This last week I had to do a quick, 3-day trip. For a lot of us, this is just part of the deal. A client meeting here, an investor meeting there, a check on products or sales . . . being an entrepreneur can mean managing life from a rental car, a plane seat and a hotel room.
What do you do when managing your career makes it hard to manage your values? “Environmentally friendly” may be something we are putting on our products and packaging, but are we living it as we jet-around trying to get said product into stores and onto shelves? Or while we beg and plead for more money to scale? Or while we attend that conference that promises to get our network and our dreams to the next level?
As someone who travels often, here are a few things I have learned about bringing solid green-values into life, no matter where I have to be.
Pack to Make Less Impact
A reusable water bottle, for example, keeps you away from toss-away plastics that are gathering in the middle of the ocean. That one is easy. You can also pack a reusable lunch box or other container for food while you are on the go. Stop buying sandwiches wrapped in plastic and put something fresh inside. You can even use these containers if the hotel you are staying only offers styrofoam.
I always pack my trusty travel coffee mug, too. Then you can make coffee or grab one from the continental breakfast without adding to the heap of garbage that is going out when the free meal is over. Most cafe’s will honor your request to fill your own mug instead of one of theirs that will be discarded. It really saves everyone, and Mother Earth, a little heartache.
You might know the answer, but the more of us who ask about green practices, the better. Ask your hotel if they have other options rather than styrofoam, a recycling bin for the paper plates your pancakes came on, or a policy on not washing your towel every single time you use it. I have stayed in some of the “greenest” cities only to find that there isn’t a compost bin in the dining room, or a single biodegradable cup as an option. They will do it if we make a stink about it, so always ask.
When you go to pick up the rental car, it could be tempting to take the free upgrade to the SUV. After all, you will be spending a lot of time in the car and being comfortable is important. It is also important that you are driving something with the best gas mileage possible, if you want to contribute less to our planet’s pollution. So, stay smaller and more economical. It’ll be easier to park anyway.
If you can, walk or take public transit. This takes a little more planning, like specifically getting the hotel nearest to your meeting so you don’t have to drive once you arrive. You can hop on a shuttle and then get from A to B if you just give yourself a little extra time. Lots of cities are upping their Public Transportation game, so it might be easier than you think.
If the town you are in offers a bike share program, and you can ride between meeting without getting terribly smelly, try that, too. The fresh air might be good for your thought process and stress level, anyway.
When in doubt, offset. There are organizations working hard on keeping our planet together. If you feel like your latest trip has made too much of a negative impact, give a little something to one of the environmental organizations you trust. The work they do will help your trip to see your business mentor seem a little less detrimental in the scheme of things.
Have green tips for travel? Share yours with us @StarterNoise using #TravelGreen