Recycle, use less water, eat less meat, turn off the lights, plant a tree. We know the ways we can be better at protecting our planet at home, but what about on the road? Our carbon footprint follows us wherever we go — for example, a 2006 study estimated that 75 percent of a hotel's environmental impact is directly related to excessive consumption. We can do better than this. Here's where to start.

 

When my best friend and I were planning a road trip from New York City to the Berkshires area of Massachusetts, we decided to take a greener approach. We committed to making sure all the major aspects of our trip were less harmful to the environment, and tried to find ways to help it, too. These four will help make your road trip an ecofriendly adventure.



Drive a Plug-In Hybrid

Photo by Kalu Ci


There's no getting around this one: when you're going to be driving hundreds of miles, you need to consider your energy use and resource efficiency. For every gallon of gas saved, 20 pounds of carbon dioxide are kept out of the atmosphere, and a plug-in hybrid uses 30 to 60 percent less petroleum than other vehicles. Check Fueleconomy.gov for guidelines, tips and trip calculators.

 

Eat Local

Sweetgreen via Website


Sticking to farm-to-table restaurants, vegetarian spots and places that source local produce (or grow their own) is a smart way to support sustainability when you're eating on the road. Even better, book accommodations that include a kitchen and stock up on groceries from a local farmers market. For on-the-go options, check to see whether healthy fast-casual eateries like Sweetgreen and Veggie Grill are on your route, or download the Happy Cow app for veg-friendly places just about anywhere. This list of the top farm-to-table restaurants in the U.S. ensures a foodie-approved destination in every state.

 

Stay in Eco-Aware Hotels

Proximity Hotel via Website


Most hotels these days encourage their guests to be more ecofriendly — e.g., washing linens every three days instead of daily — but some take the green initiative even further. Look for hotels that use upcycled materials, make it easy to recycle by putting bins in every room, employ automatic lighting or compost kitchen scraps.

Two excellent examples of ecofriendly hotels are the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, North Carolina. The former dates back to 1773 and does a beautiful job of preserving its colonial-era charm while adhering to very modern sustainability practices. The latter is the first LEED Platinum hotel in the United States, and its environmentally friendly efforts include covering the roof with 100 solar panels to heat enough hot water for 100 homes.

Red Lion Inn, 30 Main St., Stockbridge, MA 01262. +1 413-298-5545; redlioninn.com
Proximity Hotel, 704 Green Valley Rd., Greensboro, NC 27408. +1 336-379-8200; proximityhotel.com

 

Be Conscious of the Details

Before the Flood via Website


You've green-ified your transportation, accommodations and dining. But don't forget the little things. In hotels it can be easy to drop your daily habits — it's as though we all forget how to hang up a towel and turn off lights. These small actions add up, especially if every guest in the hotel takes responsibility for themselves. And if you decide to spend a night in, cozy up with an eye-opening documentary like Cowspiracy (also on Netflix) or the Leonardo DiCaprio–produced Before the Flood.

By Angelina Zeppieri

Angelina is a ​lifestyle writer and explorer from New York City, focusing on travel, food and other important things. You can usually find her on a yoga mat, at a wine store or off on a new adventure. Follow her on Instagram and her blog.