Green Business Travel

I like to think of myself as an environmentally sensitive person.  When at home I go out of my way to recycle, compost, watch my 8-12-14-2energy consumption, and conserve water in as many ways as possible. I do my best to buy products that are sensitive to the environment even though it often costs more. Yes, I’m that girl that pulls cans out of her coworkers’ trash bins and take them home to recycle. However, when I’m on the road it becomes much more complicated to be the same environmentally sensitive person.  Usually I’m scurrying from one place to the next when I travel, and finding convenient ways to be green is challenge if not outright impossible.  What’s a green business traveler to do??  Here are the ways I try to stay green on the road. (Pictured: Eco Friendly luggage by McBrine)

Airline and Airport tips.

  • Airlines seem to be getting better about recycling but they have a long ways to go.  I know American Airlines recycles on some flights but I don’t see it happening on all of them. Flight attendants should let you know if the bag they are using is for recycling.
  • To avoid bottled water I bring a refillable water bottle and will fill it after going through security at the filtered water refill stations.  Not all airports have these refill stations (sigh) but when they do I love it and take full advantage.  When there’s not a refill station I reluctantly will go the tap water route.
  • Before I throw away anything at an airport I take a moment to see if there’s a recycling bin instead.  Most major airports have recycling so take a moment to look before you head to the trash can (or ask an airport employee). Airports will often have signs up stating they recycle so be on the lookout.

Food waste.

  • Since composting is not an option on the road I try to only buy a meal that I will finish so I’m not wasting food.  This also is good for health reasons because I’m being conscious about how much I plan to eat, and therefore not over ordering and feeling obligated to finish everything.

Hotel tips.

  • At hotels if they recycle they’ll often have a sign in your room saying so.  If there’s not a sign and I have items to recycle I’ll ask the front (takes 30 seconds at check in to ask).  If they don’t I try to take any small amounts of paper I accumulate on a trip back home with me to recycle at the house. This isn’t ideal and is not for everyone, but if I have room for it then I go for it—I’ve even carted empty plastic bottles back home.
  • Unfortunately things like cans and glass can’t travel back with me unless I’m driving so I try to avoid those items when at all possible.
  • I hang towels up when I plan to reuse them so that housekeeping (theoretically) will not switch them out.
  • Finally, I try to keep the air around 78 in my room in the summer and close the curtains when I can so the room stays cooler.

Paper reduction.

  • It’s very tempting to buy a magazine at the airport when on the road, but Kindle offers those same magazines electronically often times so check your ebook selection before you buy the paper version.
  • Also, just like at home I always decline a bag when making a purchase.


  • When I rent a car I try to get a hybrid when it’s available.  Not only do I save on fuel but it’s better for the environment.  When a hybrid is not an option I either ask the rental car employee for the car with the best fuel economy or go to MPG Buddy’s site to look up the miles per gallon if I can’t find it at the rental car company.
  • If walking to a restaurant or place of business is practical and safe I’ll do that instead of taking a car.  Not only is it better for the environment but it’s also healthier.  If it’s late though I try to avoid this for safety reasons.

Green Apps that I use.

  • GiveMeTap. App that helps you find places to get free drinking water.
  • iRecycle.  App for finding local, convenient recycling opportunities when you are on the go or at home.

The common thread that I have found is that it’s just not easy to find information about the recycling/environmental policies of individual airlines, airports, or hotel properties.  The information should be much more in the open.  I’ve emailed the EPA to see if there’s a list of all the airports that offer recycling and once I have that info I’ll send out an update.  The most important thing is to just do your best—recycle and reduce conception when you can, but don’t stress about the places it’s just not practical.

Readers, do you try to be eco-conscious on the road? What has your experience been?


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  1. And don’t forget to offset your GHG emissions when flying. UA do have a good service for doing so when purchase the floght.

  2. It’s a small thing but instead of using the hotel plastic laundry bag for my dirty clothes, I travel with a pillowcase. On the way there I pack it full of my clean socks and underwear. Then I use it as a laundry bag once I get unpacked.

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