Eco-tourism or eco-travel is becoming all the rage for vacations. But what about the business traveler who is concerned about the environment but at the same time needs electricity to charge a Blackberry or use a laptop for hours on end?
More and more car rental agencies are purchasing hybrids and other environmentally friendly cars. If your business takes you to Maui, rent a Bio-Beetle which runs on 100% vegetable oil from sustainable sources. EV Rental has a 100% hybrid fleet with locations in California, Arizona, and soon, Las Vegas. Fox works with EV Rental to offer hybrids at all Fox locations. Enterprise offers the Toyota Prius for rent. If car services are more your style, Eco-Limo is available in Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles. New York City has OZO-Car which bills itself as an eco-luxury private car service.
To Greenify your air travel can be a little more complicated. Business travelers log over 240 billion air miles a year, generating over 160 million tons of carbon dioxide. Air travel as a whole is responsible for 3.5% of carbon dioxide produced by humans and is the fastest growing source of CO2. Some companies are buying carbon offsets from CarbonFund.org or similar companies to neutralize the business miles traveled. Carbon offsets are a good start, but the reality is they are not going to help quite as much as they are touted to. We need to plant over 3 million trees this year to absorb the CO2 generated in 2008, but it will take 70 years for those 3 million trees to absorb the all of that C02. When looking for a carbon offset company, check that they incorporate several ways of obtaining offsets.
Many hotels have been offering guests the opportunity to conserve water by not changing the sheets or towels every day. There are a number of hotels which go a step further. Orbitz has launched an eco section which will you find green friendly hotels. Hotels which have earned the Energy Star seal (they use 40% less energy than conventional buildings and emit 35% less CO2) are noted. The Lenox Hotel in Boston utilizes energy efficient lights, natural cleaners and air fresheners, zero VOC (volatile organic compound) paint, local products, waterless urinals and much more. Fairmont Hotels have a company-wide Green Partnership Program. Other chains which are striving for environmental excellence include Oberoi, Hilton, Intercontinental, Mandarin Oriental, Hyatt International, Swissôtel, Starwood Hotels and Radisson.