Being Green… but is it fun?

Hi Folks:

Friday once again, and that means it’s ‘Being Green‘ day here on our little corner of the web.  BTW, if you’re looking for one of my ‘Being Green’ posts you can reach them all from this link:  It’s a lot easier to remember.

If you’ve read our other posts for this past week you’ll know that Marcia and I are putting the finishing touches on her book of poetry before sending it off to the publisher, and that’s been taking up most of our attention.  I’ve been helping out with cover design, editing and technical support.  It also means this might be a little shorter than usual.  Or not.

So.  Yesterday I was reading the June 2010 “Responsible Travel Report” from Sustainable Travel International, and the opening paragraph contained, “You shop for food, clothes, cars, energy, and maybe even your job with a conscience, but how about your travel? If you’re planning summer travel, how does sustainability factor in to your booking decisions?”  That got me thinking of a couple of things.  For one, green travel is certainly as important as green building or any other issue regarding green living.  As with green building there are standards and certifications for green travel, such as the “Green” Hotels Association, or the Green Key Eco-Rating Program.  The American Hotels and Lodging Association also has its own ‘Green Resource Center‘, although these are ideas for ‘best practices’ and not covered under certification.  Every hotel or other lodging must be built of something, and so the rules for green building apply here as well, and some have done much to curb their waste stream and both water and energy use.  Should one provide individual (branded) soaps and cosmetics in the guest rooms for guests to take with them, or is better to buy in bulk and use dispensers instead?  Hand dryers or paper towels?  There are both energy use and health issues to consider.  Cleaning products?  The list goes on and on and can effect every aspect of a hotel or resort’s operation.  Marcia and I both have experience with the hospitality industry, so we’ve looked at this from both sides of the proverbial coin.

The very word ‘green’ is such a buzzword these days that mere association with it provides its own benefits and challenges.  One survey from a few years ago showed that people would be willing to pay more (to a point) to stay with an operator that practiced social and environmental responsibility, and tourism around the world is a multi-trillion dollar business.  With that comes issues of greenwashing as well.  More than one provider has made claim to being the ‘greenest’ hotel in the world.

Of course, green travel in and of itself implies travel, so there are modes of transportation and distance to consider.  Travel itself can be loosely separated into business travel and personal travel, although there are great overlaps.  Does one need to make this trip?  ‘Need’ can have a very liberal definition.  Carbon offsetting is a good idea for the conscious traveler, but there are many companies providing such a service, with varying degrees of reliability.  How does one choose a reputable company?

All of this and more was born out of one paragraph in one newsletter, but it got me thinking about something else as well… fun.  After reading the above you may be thinking to yourself, “What’s fun about this?”  Exactly my point.  It got me thinking about what it means to be green, and the terms usually associated with the “triple bottom line”.  In no particular order they include: sustainability, corporate responsibility, environmental responsibility, environmental health, global warming/ climate change, pesticide use, human health, phytoestrogens, organic farming v.s. industrial farming, diminishing resources, pollution, decreasing ozone, energy efficiency… there are more, but that’s a good start.  Not one ‘fun’ word in any of that.

The whole idea behind being green is to find a way where we can all live healthier, happier, more productive lives in a way that benefits all of the creatures of this little blue marble, but sometimes I think we invest so much time, energy and money into making healthy, happy lives that we forget to live healthy, happy lives.  When was the last time you laughed out loud, danced, played or offered a stranger a smile?  When was the last time you took even five minutes for yourself, pushed away from the desk or the keyboard or… and let your mind wander?  Too busy, perhaps?  I still remember, years ago, a visitor to Toronto’s Royal Fair was being interviewed about her experience there, and while she and the interviewer were talking her young daughter played on the grass nearby.  The little one was about two years old, and she was rolling around and having a grand time.  When the interviewer mentioned this to her mother, the woman replied, “Well, she’s never seen grass before.”  I remember that moment because I was shocked to hear her say that… “never seen grass before”.  But really, what I should have remembered of that moment was that her daughter didn’t care.  For that moment she was simply reveling in the experience.  A good idea for all of us.

Okay, the links for this week include:

Okay that’s it for now. Back to the book…

Have a great week!

P.S. This should bring a smile to your face: Unilever’s Smile-Activated Ice Cream Machine

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