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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Green on the Go

Air Date: Week of

Mackinac Island in Michigan. (Photo: Amy Posten/amy.posten@gmail.com)

What to do on your summer vacation? Plenty Magazine assistant editor Tobin Hack has some green tips. She tells host Bruce Gellerman that with soaring gas prices, travelers might consider staying close to home, packing light, and taking public transportation this summer.


GELLERMAN: It’s summer time, but, this year, the livin’ ain’t so easy - not with the soaring price of energy putting a damper on vacation trips. But if you want to save some green, and be green, on your upcoming summer holiday, Tobin Hack may be able to help. She’s assistant editor at Plenty Magazine, and she joins me from New York City where the Green Zine is based. Plenty just came out with its travel issue. But, with gas prices so high, Tobin, I’m thinking a lot of folks must be downsizing their travel plans.

HACK: They certainly are. People are staying closer to home, you know, plane tickets are clearly rising in cost and airlines are even cutting services. And people are scrambling for train tickets. Amtrak is very, very happy about the rising gas price. Ridership has risen over ten percent from last year. It’s a big change in American travel patterns.

GELLERMAN: When I was, you know, growing up you could use the old thumb mobile but you can’t do that anymore.


HACK: Well, I can’t recommend hitchhiking but I can recommend ride-sharing services like GoLoco for example. You go online and look for other people who might be for example driving from New York to Boston and you might be traveling with strangers but you can check ‘em out ahead of time, make sure they’re okay.

GELLERMAN: So how do I pick a place?

HACK: Well we have a road trip feature in our current magazine, sort of guiding people around the country to various green destinations and just think about what you haven’t maybe explored or enjoyed in your area. If you live in California, think about taking an organic wine tasting trip up the coast, you know rent a Prius and do that. Or if you live in Michigan, go head out to Mackinac Island, which is a car-free island so you get there and you’ll be traveling around by foot or even by horse-and-buggy, a really low CO2 way to go.

Mackinac Island in Michigan. (Photo: Amy Posten/amy.posten@gmail.com)

GELLERMAN: Well once you get there you’ve got to stay someplace. I like this place in New Mexico: “Earthship World Headquarters.”

HACK: That’s architect Michael Reynolds. He’s a really groundbreaking architect who works with, believe it or not, trash. He builds these structures called “Earthships” out of old tires, old beer bottles, old soda cans and this one, obviously, you can actually go stay in. They’re sort of dome-like, and they’re really cool looking, sort of futuristic, off the grid, very sustainable.

GELLERMAN: Hm, you can trash the place before you even get there.


GELLERMAN: I was looking at some travel pages and it seems cruise ships are an affordable way of going.

HACK: Cruise ships do have a large footprint. You know these really big cruise ships can hold as many as 5,000 people and they’re dumping sewage into the ocean. They’re not a great way to go. So what we like to recommend instead is go with a smaller cruise ship expedition like Lindblad or Cruise North Expeditions. Lindblad actually partners with the World Wildlife Foundation and National Geographic to promote conservation so they’re working for conservation in that way and also a smaller group is always a more eco way to go. Another great option is just to go by sailboat. Explore Greece by catamaran for example, explore Maine by sailboat. You’ll really get to know the place better and it’s so much more relaxing.

GELLERMAN: I know a lot of people like to volunteer on their vacations. You know they work a whole year and take two weeks off and volunteer.

Horseback riding in the Rockies. (Photo: Amy Cesich)

HACK: Voluntourism is really a great way to go and it’s really growing in popularity. I like to say, you know, “Hedonism is out.” Today it’s all about getting your hands dirty while you’re on vacation, having some fun but also giving back. You might be scuba diving in the Bahamas with an underwater clipboard collecting coral reef data or following bottlenose dolphins in the Mediterranean off of Greece, studying meerkats or hyenas in South Africa. And you know you’ll not only learn a lot but you’ll come home with definitely a renewed interest in conservation and a new area of expertise.

GELLERMAN: So Tobin, where are you planning to go this summer?

HACK: Uh, I’m going to be working.


HACK: But let’s see, can I pick my dream destination?



Tobin Hack is an Assistant Editor for Plenty magazine.

HACK: You know I’ve always wanted to go ride a horse in the Rocky Mountains. I think I might do that, I might head out to Montana.

GELLERMAN: Well Tobin if you go, you know, West that’s a long trip, how do you make that a green trip?

HACK: Well one thing you can do in terms of air travel of course is offset your flight. It’s a controversial step that people take but it’s better than nothing. An average length flight will only cost you about twenty dollars to offset.

GELLERMAN: Controversial how, Tobin?

HACK: I think a lot of critics feel that the money you pay doesn’t make up for the CO2 that’s emitted. But you know all of these offsetting and ecosteps are evolving and the important thing is to be making the effort, to be exploring the options.

GELLERMAN: Tobin Hack is an assistant editor at Plenty Magazine. To find out more about greening your vacation, check out our website, L-O-E dot org. Tobin, it was a pleasure.

HACK: Thanks so much Bruce.



Plenty Magazine

Eco-inquiries, conundrums, snafus? Write to Tobin Hack


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