Reducing your carbon footprint during a Florida vacation does not mean sleeping in a chickee, hugging trees and foraging for food. Well, if you’d like to do that, go ahead and knock your socks off but I have some other tips for a green getaway in the Sunshine State.
Flamingo Campground – Group Camping, Everglades National Park
If sleeping in a chickee or a tent floats your boat, you can easily do that in Florida. The state has a terrific state park system with accommodations ranging from rustic to extremely comfortable. National parks such as Everglades and Dry Tortugas offer camping. But, for those you who prefer “hotel camping,” stay with one of the Florida Green Lodging accommodations, as designated by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
Eat Like a Local
The buzz word among foodies is “locavore,” someone who consumes locally produced food. Eating has become an important part of travel so when selecting where to dine, choose farm-to-table, or more appropriate for Florida – boat-to-table- eateries. These restaurants source their food from local fishermen, farmers, bakers, cheese makers, etc. Locally sourced food means it’s supporting local jobs and did not travel a great distance. These restaurants tend to be independently-owned.
Many Florida destinations have organizations supporting and promoting these types of restaurants. For the Sarasota and Manatee area there is The Sarasota-Manatee Originals which promotes independent restaurants serving fresh and local cuisine.
Let the Legs Lead the Sightseeing
Chances are, if you’re heading to Florida for vacation you’ll be experiencing the thrill of one of many theme parks. Balance that with low-impact activities such as guided walking tours or kayaking or biking trips. Its also good for your health to keep moving!
Find those committed to protecting the natural resources through the Florida Society of Ethical Ecotourism. Several of the state and national parks offer low-impact programs, too. And, almost every major Florida city, and some smaller ones, offer self-guided and guided walking tours. Boo! St. Augustine and Key West are great places for ghost tours! Punta Gorda and Lake Placid have beautiful murals to admire as you walk the downtown. Explore several popular Florida downtowns with the free Florida Stories app published by the Florida Humanities Council.
Giddy Up and Go Green
Choose a fuel-efficient auto from your favorite car rental agency. Some offer a green-line series of cars which will make you feel good for reducing your impact on the environment and having a little extra spending money when you top off that fuel tank. Or, ditch the car and use the city’s public transportation system, such as Orlando. Better yet, choose a destination where you don’t need a car to get around, such as St. Augustine, Mount Dora, or a beach getaway like those found on Don Pedro Island which is only accessible by boat.
Spend a little time volunteering or supporting a non-profit organization in the place you’re vacationing. This can be as simple as visiting and donating to a native bird rehabilitation facility, such as the Peace River Wildlife Center in Punta Gorda or doing manual labor somewhere. One of the neatest things I’ve done in the voluntourism realm is to sort used hotel soap at Clean the World in Orlando. Think about it, how often do you use your hotel soap once then leave it behind? Clean the World works with hotels and resorts to recycle and repurpose used soap, shampoo and conditioner. This “new” soap is then distributed within the U.S. and around the globe to those in need.
Help reduce waste, promote energy efficiency, support a local economy and improve your health and possibly others by choosing to green your Florida vacation.
What’s your favorite travel tip for a green vacation in your favorite destination?