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Published on January 15th, 2009 | by lisakivirist

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Sustainable Suitcase: Three (Small) Things to Pack for Healthy, Green Travel

Plotting a mid-winter travel escape? While discussion on “green travel” tends to focus on the “where” you’re going – like the exotic Costa Rica ecotourism tour – remember you can add a sustainable twist to any trip anywhere with a dash of pre-planning. Focus on the process – the what you’re doing and how you’re doing it – wherever you go and green up any destination.

Here are three things that always land in my family’s suitcase. Lightweight and small, these items are easy to pack and offer multiple uses throughout the trip:

1. Something to Chase
Pack one small piece of sports gear that gets you moving, such as a Frisbee, foam football or hacky sack. Find a nearby park or open space and make it a priority to get out and move once a day. Not only are you getting some no-impact exercise, you’re experiencing the local scene from a much more personable angle.

After spending some time in California this past week – escaping the deep freeze of my Wisconsin homeland — I’m truly impressed with how physically active folks are here. Granted, the glorious weather helps, but as I’m walking down the shoreline in Pacific Beach, San Diego, people aren’t just strolling, they are moving. Some are on bikes or roller blades (or other interesting forms of cycles – hey, this is California), and many are carrying that “something to chase” – ready for a pick-up game of something.

2. “Mess Kit” for Eating
Don’t leave the house without a plastic set of silverware, cup, plate and travel mug for hot beverages. Sure, this significantly lowers your use disposables. But it importantly leaves you open to easy grazing from the local grocery store or farmer’s market, savoring both local fare and opening up opportunities for healthier, lighter meals outside of the restaurant treat.

I’ve found a couple heavy-duty freezer plastic bags and an empty Tupperware round out this travel mess kit idea, providing lightweight, easy “to go” containers for sandwiches and snack fare. The stronger freezer bags can be rinsed out and reused throughout the trip.

3. Canvas Bag

You always try to have a re-usable canvas bag in our car for toting groceries when we’re home – don’t forget to pack one when you hit the road. I find multiple uses for an extra canvas bag during travels – from serving as a “picnic bag” for day trips (eliminating the need for fast food stops) to provision-stocking at the local market.

They key with these additional carry-on is that they are lightweight and small in size, yet add significant green value. Prioritize what’s in your pack and you prioritize the planet.

Photo Credit:  Beach Ball by valentinapowers (Creative Commons Attribution License on Flickr)



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  • Carol

    Lisa, these green travel tips came at a perfect time..my husband and I are going to Vermont for our anniversary this weekend. It encourages me to bring some food with us, and the canvas bag is a great idea that I hadn’t thought of. We plan on bringing our own snowshoes to use on the B&B property and will hopefully find some other outdoor activities as well (although sleeping in is on the schedule too!)Thanks!Carol in Upstate N.Y.

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