Fin MacDonald

Information on me and my current projects

Gearing up for an Eco-Friendly(ish) vacation

Planning a honeymoon to the Caribbean is becoming a fairly standard practice for most newly weds.  The tourism industry is well equipped to help you book a standard vacation, but what happens when you want something eco-friendly?  You will find that this isn’t a common request that travel agents get and they aren’t prepared to answer it.  This is because flying south isn’t typically viewed as as something that can be done in an eco-friendly way.  Times are changing and now you have options.  There are choices you can make from the resort, to the airline, to the food, and the products you use.  Here is the process we followed:

1) Choose an eco-friendly resort.  This doesn’t mean you have to stay in a grass hut without air conditioning but you should seek out a resort that puts a focus on sustainability.  Market demand for eco-friendly hotels is a great thing, and will encourage more hotels to follow suit.  After a lot of research we settled on the El Dorado Royale in the Riveria Maya, Mexico.  This resort was recommended by friends for its food and amenities, but when we did more digging we found out it took sustainability serious as well.  The eco friendly features include:

  • Solar panels to heat 100% of the water for the pools.
  • A greenhouse that grows fresh organic vegetables and herbs for use in the restaurants.
  • Laundry at the resort is cleaned without chemicals, and 92% of the water is reclaimed and filtered/cleaned for other uses.  Heat recovery recovers 98% of the heat used for drying to heat hot water for washing.
  • Energy efficient air conditioners eliminate on/off cycling and reduce energy consumption by 50% over standard models.
  • The resort is Green Globe certified (3rd party verified green rating system similar to LEED).

2) Mitigate the effects of travel.  Travel is the part that is difficult when you head south.  Nobody wants to spend their entire vacation in a car or train.  Its pretty much airplane or nothing.  When faced with no options for eco-friendly travel you need to take steps to mitigate the effects of your travel.  Air Canada offers a great carbon offsetting program in cooperation with a firm called Zerofootprint.  Not only can you offset your flights emissions, but you get to choose how they are offset.  We chose to offset our emissions using a combination of planting trees and recycling tires. Planting trees removed carbon from the atmosphere and recycling tires cuts down on carbon as well as hazardous gases associated with burning tires (which is standard practice for tires not recycled).

3) Choose Eco-friendy sunscreen.  Many of the chemicals found in sunscreen are toxic and their effects on marine life are especially harmful.  If you plan on swimming in the ocean in and around the coral reefs you should do your part to reduce serious damage to the local eco-system.  Eco-friendly suncreen does not include any of the following chemicals:

  • Benzophenone
  • Ethylhexyl
  • Homosalate
  • Octyl metoxycinnamate
  • Octyl salicylate
  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinxate
  • Butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane

Terra20 in Ottawa sells sunscreen that is free of these chemicals.

These are the eco-friendly decisions we made when planning our honeymoon.  Our trip is scheduled for the end of October and I will try to grab some good photos of the eco friendly features at the resort while I am there.

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