With Memorial Day and the summer travel season approaching, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) encourages Florida residents and guests to travel close, clean and green with the launch of a new green travel Web site and Florida Green Lodging Program locator map. The newly launched green travel Web site offers resources for families and travelers looking to get away without depleting their wallets, gas tanks or the environment.
“With a state park or a Green Lodging facility within just a short car ride of any location in the state, there are plenty of opportunities for affordable, eco-friendly travel this summer,” said DEP’s Deputy Secretary Bob Ballard. “The new green travel Web site is a valuable resource that allows visitors to locate state parks within a 100-mile radius, track down Green Lodging facilities, and provides tips on how to conserve gasoline and exhibit environmental stewardship while on vacation.”
When planning a vacation this summer, travelers should consider visiting one of the 161 Florida State Parks and staying at one of the nearly 200 Florida Green Lodging properties throughout the state. A new tool on the Green Lodging Web site allows visitors to view designated properties and Florida State Parks all in the same interactive map. The easy-to-use map shows environmentally friendly travel destinations for the entire state.
“Florida residents and guests can use the newly launched Florida Green Lodging Program map to locate designated lodging facilities near a state park or recreation area,” said Director of Sustainable Initiatives Deas Bohn. “Properties range from local bed and breakfast’s to five star resorts with more than 1,000 rooms to suit any traveler’s needs.”
The Florida Green Lodging Program requires each designated property to meet a minimum set of environmental practices in areas such as energy efficiency, water conservation, clean air practices and waste reduction. The specific set of practices varies from one hotel to another. Since each hotel will have a slightly different program, guests should ask hotel staff about their “green” practices.
As gasoline prices continue to rise, close-to-home and affordable Florida State Parks offer the perfect avenue for relaxation and recreation. Travelers can plan their affordable getaway by indicating a starting point and the website’s “One Tank Adventure” feature will locate all Florida State Parks within a 100-mile radius. World-class beaches, springs, rivers and lakes, historic and cultural sites, and abundant wildlife watching are all available alternatives to high-cost summer vacations.
Green Travel Tips
Going on vacation doesn’t mean travelers should stop being environmentally conscientious. Be it water, fuel or energy conservation, each little bit helps to cut down vacation costs and protect the state’s natural resources for future generations. Consider some of the following conservation tips for on the road travel:
- Avoid rapid acceleration to reduce fuel consumption.
- Avoid hard braking and sudden stops. Stay alert and anticipate traffic lights, stop signs and merges. Use turn signals. Traffic will move more smoothly which saves fuel for everyone.
- Remove extra weight from the car.
- Use cruise control on highway trips.
- For any stop lasting more than a minute, shut off the engine rather than letting it idle.
Avoid warming the engine up before driving; it is not necessary, even in cold weather.
- Reduce the use of the air conditioner at low driving speeds. When driving over 40 mph, using the air conditioner costs less fuel than having the windows open.
- Park in the shade or leave the windows slightly open to reduce the need for air conditioning.
- Refrain from topping off the tank at the gas pumps.
- Replace air and fuel filters regularly as instructed by the vehicle maintenance manual; change air filter more often if driving in dusty conditions.
Be a “green” guest
The following practices make overnight stays more eco-friendly
- Keep showers short, and turn off the water while brushing teeth.
- When leaving a room, turn off the air conditioning, heat, television, lights or any other electric devices.
- Reuse sheets and towels instead of having them changed every day. Many hotels will not replace towels if they are left hanging up neatly; if unsure, write a note for the housekeeping staff or notify the front desk.
- Bring toiletries and a drinking cup rather than using the prepackaged ones provided at many hotels.
- Know the hotel’s recycling program and sort trash accordingly. If the hotel doesn’t recycle, consider taking empty bottles or other items home to recycle them there.
- Give hotels feedback. Express appreciation for any eco-friendly programs it currently offers – or if it doesn’t, encourage the management to go green in the future.
Launched in March 2004, the Florida Green Lodging Program establishes environmental guidelines for hotels and motels to conserve natural resources and prevent pollution. As reward for designation, the state is recommending designated properties in the Florida Green Lodging Program to companies and trade organizations seeking environmentally conscious lodging and convention facilities. To date, the program has 181 designated properties and more than 345 applicants.
The first two-time Gold Medal winner honoring the nation’s best state park service, Florida’s state park system is one of the largest in the country with 161 parks spanning nearly 700,000 acres and 100 miles of sandy white beach. From swimming and diving in Florida’s rivers and springs to birding and fishing or hiking and riding on natural scenic trails, Florida’s state parks offer year-around outdoor activities for all ages. Battle reenactments and Native American festivals celebrate Florida’s unique history, while art shows, museums and lighthouses offer a window into Florida’s cultural heritage.
For more information on green travel, visit www.dep.state.fl.us/green/travel.htm.
For more information on the Florida Green Lodging Program, visit www.dep.state.fl.us/greenlodging
For more information on Florida State Parks visit www.dep.state.fl.us/parks