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Plan an eco-friendly honeymoon

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An eco-friendly honeymoon offers the perfect blend of romance and eco-responsibility. By choosing an earth-friendly travel company, staying in green hotels, or opting for other ways to minimize your travel footprint, you'll be making a commitment to each and the earth at the same time.

How to plan an eco-friendly honeymoon

Initial considerations

Like any vacation, there are countless ways to green your honeymoon. Consider these basic steps when planning your eco-friendly getaway.

  • Offset your travel emissions whether you're flying or driving.
  • Eat at restaurants that serve local and/or organic fare.
  • Stay in an eco-friendly hotel.
  • Hire a green limo or service for the ride to and from the airport.
  • Drive a fuel-efficient rental car when you arrive at your destination, if needed.
  • Book your romantic getaway through an environmentally conscious travel agent.
  • Set sail on a green cruise line if your travels find you exploring the high seas.

Book it!

Eco-travel no longer means roughing it in a mud hut swatting flies. More destinations are touting their commitment to earth-friendly travel, and you can easily find luxury eco-resorts and package deals. Just do your research before signing up; some hotels and departments of tourism use the green label a little too liberally. See Take a sustainable vacation for a list of sites that rate (and often certify) sustainable travel providers in the US and around the world. RezHub.com, Leading Honeymoons, and Responsible Travel are great sites to generate green honeymoon ideas or book a trip.

Planning an eco-friendly honeymoon helps you go green because…

  • Conscious choices about transportation and lodging shrink your carbon footprint: global air transportation related to tourism contributes to 7 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions while a single night in a hotel generates 0.01 metric tons of greenhouse gases.[1]
  • You can support local economies and help them grow sustainably. Eco-lodges hire and purchase locally and put as much as 95 percent of money into the local economy while all-inclusive package tours put 80 percent toward airlines, hotels and other international companies.[2]

Approximately 2.3 million couples get married each year in the US, and many follow the big day with a big trip: the honeymoon.[3] In fact, about 90 percent of couples fly away after the ceremony—part of the nearly 900 million worldwide tourists on the road or in the skies each year that have a significant impact on local ecosystems, water, air and wildlife.[4][5]

Most honeymoons require travel by plane, car, or another form of transportation, which burns fossil fuels, produces greenhouse gas emissions, and contributes to global warming. In addition, hotels consume significant amounts of energy, as do travelers' homes that continue to be heated or cooled. Travel also generates considerable garbage from drinks and snack foods bought en-route. Left unchecked, heavy tourism traffic can exceed a location's ability to sustain it. This pressure on an area's natural environment and resources can lead to soil erosion, increased pollution, loss of natural habitat, strained water resources, ocean discharge, increased risk to endangered species, and heightened vulnerability to forest fires.

Controversies

Ecotourism

Ecotourism seeks to decrease travelers’ ecological footprints in wilderness areas and fragile ecosystems around the world. It’s part of a larger movement called sustainable tourism, which looks to not only protect natural areas, but also urban and rural areas, as well as local cultures and economies. Despite ecotourism’s attempt to minimize the impact of tourism on wild areas, it’s often criticized for opening up sensitive “virgin” areas to masses of travelers. This often includes building energy-intensive mega-resorts sporting artificial landscapes that disrupt native plant and animal species. In addition, critics charge that ecotourism strips local economies of their diversity and creates ecotourism monocultures. Local people are not only typically paid low wages but they may not be guaranteed year-round work.

Carbon offsets

Many organizations and companies offer carbon offsets that allow consumers to minimize their greenhouse gas emissions from activities such as plane and car travel by purchasing credits toward green projects that reduce carbon emissions. Critics, though, charge that all offsets aren’t created equal. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which regulates advertising claims, began hearings in 2008 to investigate where offset funds actually go. The concern is that some claims may overstate the eco-benefits of offsets, a method of greenwashing. For instance, opponents contend that some projects, such as tree planting, may not be worth the $5 to $20 paid per ton of carbon offset because investing in forest protection doesn’t help reduce dependency on fossil fuels the way, for example, renewable energy projects do. In addition, a number of programs aren’t monitored for quality by a third-party. Some groups have developed offset standards or are in the process of doing so, however not all standards are equally stringent. One of the most comprehensive and widely endorsed is the Gold Standard, which certifies offset projects that follow strict criteria and are verified by independent third parties.

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