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10 Great Ways to Green Your Next Vacation

10 Great Ways to Green Your Next Vacation

When you take a vacation, it’s a reprieve from work and everything that stresses you out. But it’s not a break for the Earth. Unfortunately, the tourism industry has the side-effect of stressing our climate.

It’s important for tourists to understand they’re not the only ones traveling, and tourism is a huge source of pollution. In 2005, tourism was responsible for 5 percent of global emissions, 40 percent of which stemmed from air travel, 32 percent from cars, and 21 percent from accommodations.

Thankfully, tourists are becoming more environmentally-conscious. There are movements such as ecotourism. Ecotourism puts a premium on destinations seeking to sustain the environment, and efforts at sustainability in tourism.

Are you going to travel this year? Do you want to decrease your carbon footprint and promote ecotourism? Try greening your trip with the following activities.

1. Mountain Bike Going-to-the-Sun Road

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goingsunroad

    2016 is the centennial birthday of the National Park Service. Our National Parks seek to conserve natural habitats. At Glacier National Park, Going-to-the-Sun Road presents a perfect opportunity to celebrate the centennial while taking a green approach. Going-to-the-Sun road spans the width of the park. It includes plenty of places to camp, as well as Lake McDonald Lodge, where you can stay if you’re looking for comfort. For however long you want to bike, there are attractions along the road, and you’ll be conserving fuel. Climate change scientists estimate the glaciers will be gone by 2030. You’ll be doing your part at conservation by biking instead of driving.

    2. Stay at a Costa Rican Ecolodge

    costarica

      Costa Rica has tons of national parks and wildlife refuges. While you’re visiting sites that promote conservation, stay at one of the many ecolodges and hotels committed to sustainability. While staying at Nacientes Palmichal Lodge in the Central Valley, learn how to make tortillas, or visit an organic farm and find out how they use biodigestors to create gas for cooking.

      3. Go Bird Watching in New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park

      tui

        New Zealand is full of rare and endangered bird species. At Tongariro National Park, you can watch beautiful species such as the endangered Kiwi, the mischievous Kea, and the singing Tui. Here, you’ll find guided bird-watching tours with naturalists, and sanctuaries dedicated to keeping these beauties alive. Many of the birds are exotic and unique to New Zealand.

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        4. Geocache Petrified Forest National Park

        Petrified

          Geocaching is the combination of hiking, mountaineering, treasure hunting, and GPS (Global Positioning System) technology. The sport was invented by Oregonian Dave Ulmer at the turn of the century. The National Park Service sponsors Geocaching at the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. The activity is free—all you need is a GPS. You’ll learn about major geological resources. You’ll also get to learn about the Historic Route 66 Geocaching Project. Since the Park runs this activity, it’s an eco-friendly form of geocaching.

          5. Do Denali Backcountry Yoga  

          Denali2

            The Denali Backcountry Lodge is located deep in the heart of Alaska’s Denali National Park and Preserve. This National Park the home of North America’s tallest peak, Mt. Denali, which stands at 20,310 feet. This area is not open to private vehicles. You have to take a bus from the Denali Cabins to get there. One of the activities you can do is yoga. There are morning and afternoon classes in the wilderness. You won’t need to take a car to get to the class, nor will you be able to. And, taking a bus to the back country is like carpooling to the vacation spot.

            6. Dive with the East Africa Whale Shark Trust

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            whaleshark

              Kenya is one of the top ecotourism destinations. The East Africa Whale Shark Trust is a scientific organization in Kenya seeking to preserve the population of Whale Sharks, or “papa shillingi”. Each year, they organize snorkeling and diving between February and April. This gives tourists the chance to see the tagging and documentation process, through which the Trust collects data in order to protect the Whale Shark. The diving and snorkeling trips help raise awareness and benefit the organization’s mission. You can also volunteer to help and get a view from the inside.

              7. Shop Farmer’s Markets on Hawaii’s Big Island

              hawaii

                This is a great way to contribute directly to the sustainability efforts of Hawaii’s local farms. There are a plethora of farmer’s markets dotting the Big Island, where you can buy exotic local produce and eat a plate lunch simmering with teriyaki steak, chicken katsu, rice, and salad. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried papaya fresh from the farm. You can also find artwork and hand-crafted goods you’d expect at the best farmer’s markets.

                8. Volunteer in Kerala, India

                kerala

                  Kerala is a fabulous Indian state on the tropical coast of Malabar. Lush forests, clean beaches, and attractions such as Rajamala National Park make this “God’s Own Country”, a tourist destination with extremely high recall. A great way to be not just another tourist is by volunteering through the Rainbow VolunTours program. You can help coach sports at the Kerala or Kolkata orphanages, or if you’re more the teaching type, there’s a teaching option, too. Rainbow VolunTours can also take you to Mozambique, where you’ll help with marine conservation efforts.

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                  9. Hike the Fjords

                  fjord

                    Norway’s Fjords are U-shaped valley waterways that were formed by glaciers millions of years ago. Norway has made sure to maintain strict environmental regulations to protect the purity of these crystalline waterways. Hiking or biking the mountains surrounding the fjords is the most eco-friendly way to support Norway’s admirable sustainability efforts.

                    10. Ride a Horse through Yellowstone

                    Horseback_riding_Shoshone_National_Forest

                      Talk about a way to connect with the West. Horseback riding Yellowstone is the traditional way to see the back country of America’s first National Park. You won’t hear any motors as you hoof it by Lost Canyon and over Lost Creek to the Old West Dinner Cookout. Horseback riding is a sure-fire way to support sustainability in the area. Just make sure to pack your trash out in your saddle bag.

                      Featured photo credit: Peter Gronemann/Taman Negara (Malaysian National Park) via flickr.com

                      More by this author

                      Dan Matthews, CPRP

                      A Certified Psychosocial Rehabilitation Practitioner with an extensive background working with clients on community-based rehabilitation.

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                      Last Updated on May 21, 2019

                      13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away

                      13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away

                      Creating your productivity ritual — a routine that helps you to maintain a peak level of energy can get you the best out of your days.

                      Part of creating your productivity routine involves removing activities that drain you (what I call “kryptonites”), and that includes your bad habits.

                      Like it or not, bad habits are bad for you — mentally, physically, emotionally and even socially in some cases. While some bad habits are harder to quit than others, it doesn’t change the fact that you need to get rid of them. Here are 13 bad habits to quit right away:

                      1. Stress Eating

                      I used to be a serious stress eater. I would eat whenever I felt unhappy, stressed, disappointed, anxious, or even… happy! My eating had nothing to do with being hungry, and everything to do with using food to fill my emotional voids.

                      While eating would comfort me, this feeling was momentary and would disappear right after I was done eating. Instead, what I had left would be the same emotional void that triggered me to eat in the first place (be it unhappiness or stress), a 2,000 excess calorie intake over what I should have eaten for the day, and anger at myself for having stress ate.

                      I’ve since overcome stress eating. I have healthy eating habits and a healthy relationship with food today where I no longer use food as a tool to fill my emotions.

                      If you are a stress eater, don’t fret — here’s how to manage your stress better:

                      How to Manage Stress (A Step-by-Step Guide to Turn Stress Into Success)

                      2. Nail Biting

                      Not only is nail biting unhygienic, it is also socially repelling, leads to dental problems like malocclusion of the anterior teeth,[1] potentially cause stomach problems,[2] and lead to severely deformed fingernails in the long run.

                      People who bite their nails tend to have shorter nails than the average person; their nail plates also experience scarring and may eventually become absent.[3]

                      Understand what triggers your nail biting behavior and replace it with another neutral to positive habit. Make habits to break habits.

                      For example, if you bite your nails when you are stressed, go for a walk or listen to music instead the next time you feel stressed.

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                      3. Hanging out with Naysayers

                      We all know these people — people who play devil’s advocate to every idea you have and every goal you want to pursue. We are already our greatest self-critics, so it doesn’t help when there’s someone beside us, ever ready to pounce on what we say and tear it down.

                      Hang out less with these naysayers and spend more time with supportive people who share constructive feedback instead. You will be much happier this way.

                      Learn how to get rid of naysayers with these 10 Ways to Ignore the Naysayers and Achieve Your Dreams.

                      4. Being with People Who Don’t Appreciate You

                      Haven’t all of us been in this situation before? Trying to please people who don’t appreciate us? Bending over backwards to be there for people when they are never there for us?

                      While we give without expectations of return, we need to draw a line with people who don’t value us because these people damage our souls.

                      Stop spending time with people who don’t appreciate you, and spend more time with people who do instead.

                      Unsure who you should get rid of? Learn about it here: 5 Kinds of Toxic People That You Need to Get Rid of Now

                      5. Smoking

                      Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death globally.[4]

                      In just the United States alone, about 500,000 deaths are attributed to smoking-related diseases annually. A recent study estimated that as much as one-third of China’s male population will have significantly shortened life-spans due to smoking! Gender-wise, male and female smokers lose an average of 13.2 and 14.5 years of life respectively — that’s over a decade of life right there.[5]

                      Not only that, smoking causes pre-mature skin aging (i.e. wrinkles), yellowing of teeth, bad breath, and worse of all — jeopardy of the health of people around you, including your loved ones. Studies have shown that non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke are at risk to many of the health problems associated with direct smoking.[6]

                      Smoking risks

                        6. Excessive Drinking

                        All of us know that drinking too much alcohol is bad for us, but do you know how bad it really is?

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                        According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, drinking too much — be it on a single occasion or over time — can seriously damage your health:[7]

                        • Brain problems: Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, making it harder to think clearly and move with coordination.
                        • Heart diseases: Cardiomyopathy – Stretching and drooping of heart muscle, Arrhythmias – Irregular heart beat, stroke, high blood pressure
                        • Liver diseases: Steatosis or fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis
                        • Pancreas problems: Pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion.
                        • Different types of cancer: Mouth, esophagus, throat, liver, breast

                        If you drink a lot, perhaps cutting it out right away will be tough. Cut down the number of glasses you drink each time, followed by the number of times you drink a week.

                        If need be, seek help from an AA group — you aren’t alone in this. Change starts from today.

                        7. Eating Junk Food (Including Diet Soda)

                        Junk food — they are everywhere in our society today. From McDonald’s, to KFC, to Burger King, to 24-hour takeouts, junk food such as fries, highly processed burgers and sodas has become a staple in our society today.

                        If you think, “Hey, but junk food is tasty!”, think again:

                        A study by Paul Johnson and Paul Kenny suggests that junk food consumption alters brain activity in a way similar to addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin.[8]

                        “After many weeks with unlimited access to junk food, the pleasure centers of rat brains became desensitized, requiring more food for pleasure.”

                        And you wonder why you seem to crave fast food when you just had some the day before?

                        While it may not be possible to remove junk food completely from our diet right away, we can reduce our junk food consumption starting today. Instead of soda, opt for a fruit juice (fresh juice, not the carbonated kind) or mineral water. Instead of fries, switch to mashed potato, a salad, or rice (many food outlets allow for this today). Instead of a fried meat patty, go for a grilled one.

                        Where possible, opt for healthy food joints like salad bars and delis as opposed to fast food outlets. Every little step goes a long way.

                        Here’re some healthy snacks ideas for you: 15 Healthy Snacks You Should Always Have At Home

                        8. Eating Too Much Red Meat

                        There has been conclusive evidence that consumption of red meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer; and suggestive evidence that it increases the risk of oesophageal cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, and endometrial cancer.

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                        In addition, some studies have linked consumption of large quantities of red meat with breast cancer, stomach cancer, lymphoma, bladder cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer![9]

                        Personally, I’m a vegetarian so I don’t consume red meat, but for those of you who consume red meat, do watch out and limit your intake — better still, cut it out of your diet. World Cancer Research Fund recommends limiting intake of red meat to less than 300g (11 oz) cooked weight per week, “very little, if any of which to be processed.”

                        Of if you’re thinking about becoming a vegetarian, check out this guide: 5 Practical Tips For Starting a Vegetarian Lifestyle

                        9. Watching Too Much TV

                        I stopped watching TV since eight years ago and I have never regretted it. Every once in a while I will switch on the telly to see what is on, and then I will switch it off because it’s just the same boring shtick over and over again.

                        Watching TV, particularly well-written dramas, can be a good way to unwind. However, remember that TV isn’t your life.

                        Spending three hours every night watching TV will not change your life for the better. Rather, using that time to reflect on your life, take stock, and take action on your goals will.

                        It’s not easy to remove TV from your daily routine right away, but follow these 6 Steps To Remove TV From Your Life.

                        10. Being Late

                        Not only is being late being rude to others, it also means that you’re always rushing from one place to another, playing catch up in your agenda, and having to apologize to every person you meet.

                        Stop being late and not being punctual, but practice being early instead. Target to arrive 15 minutes earlier before any appointment and bring along something to do in those 15 minutes (or longer if the other person turns out to be late). Then you can stop playing catch up and stay ahead in life.

                        Learn more tips about how to be more punctual here: How to Be On Time Every Time

                        11. Being in Bad Relationships

                        Are you always dating the wrong guys/girls? Do you end up with jerks all the time? Well, you may not be able to stop yourself from meeting bad partners but you can certainly stop yourself from furthering contact with them, spending time with them, or even… entering into a relationship with them.

                        I used to invest myself in this guy who was nothing but toxic for me. After a good five months of experiencing nothing but getting burned over and over again, I realized that he was a total waste of my time and I deserved better. I decided to cut him off, and it was soon after that I met my soulmate.

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                        Learn about why you shouldn’t stay in a bad relationship and how to deal with it if you’re in one: Why Trying Hard to Stay in an Unhappy Relationship Is Not Love, but Fear

                        12. Leaving Things to the Last Minute

                        Burning the midnight oil isn’t fun — it’s exhausting.

                        Those of you who got through college by burning the midnight oil would have learned this the hard way. Not only is it damaging for your body, it is also mentally draining as you’re constantly in a hyper-tense mode, feeling anxious about whether you can finish your work on time.

                        Start today on a new note. Rather than react to your deadlines, be proactive about them by planning ahead, identifying what needs to be done for the week, and getting things done in advance.

                        By staying ahead of your tasks, you can also use your extra time to plan ahead in your life and get more things done.

                        Take a look at this guide and learn how to stop procrastinating: Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

                        13. Focusing on the Negatives

                        In every situation, there are two ways you can react: zoom down to the problem areas and crib about how things aren’t the way you want, or celebrate the areas that are going well and work on making everything better.

                        Many of us see the importance of doing the latter but in practice, we do the former. Why though? Criticizing and focusing on the negatives is easy but it doesn’t empower nor inspire us to be better.

                        Make a change — for every negative encounter you run into, I challenge you to identify three things that are good about it. Practice doing this for one week, and by the end of the week you’ll find that your first instinct is to think positive, not negative.

                        And here’re even more ways to help you stay positive: 11 Tips for Maintaining your Positive Attitude

                        The Bottom Line

                        So here you find the 13 most common bad habits and their consequences on your mind and body. The good news’ you can quit them all.

                        Just spot out your own bad habits and take my suggestions to quit them. Then you’ll find your life a lot healthier and happier!

                        Need more tips to break your bad habits? Check out these articles:

                        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                        Reference

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