Most travel providers fail at being green

It isn't easy being green, especially for the travel industry, says Fortune magazine writer Marc Gunther in a story published this morning. Despite the recent flurry of press about travel providers adopting new eco-friendly practices, many major hotels, airlines, and cruise lines still have a long way to go toward being environmentally responsible. Gunther reached this conclusion after attending Condé Nast Traveler's first ever "World Savers Congress," a conference about the travel industry's role in environmental and social issues.

He writes, "Only a few hotels in the United States are certified as 'green' by the U.S. Green Building Council [and none] of the big hotel chains, cruise lines or tour operators has published a thorough corporate responsibility report, with metrics, goals, and a timetable for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions."

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Despite the discouraging news, some small providers are working hard to be green, and standout companies were honored with "World Saver" awards at the event. Will their behemoth counterparts follow suit? Personally, I'm skeptical.

If this issue is important to you, there are some small steps you can take on a personal level. Most importantly, seek out eco-friendly providers and verify their claims of being "green". (With "green" being a current buzzword, you need to make sure the provider isn't just giving you a marketing spin.) Perhaps if many travelers do this, the big guys will feel the squeeze financially (the only kind of green that that really matters to most of them, I think) and make changes.

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