Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Thinking Green with your Travel Gear
As you've probably seen in all the discussions about being carbon neutral and reducing energy independence, fixing one problem can often result in the creation of another. This is also true with travel gear, where something touted as organic may require more energy to make and ship than the item that's not so clearly good for the environment. And although "organic cotton" sounds all warm and fuzzy, genetically modified cotton requires less spraying of any kind and needs less water.
Conundrums aside, this Green Gearhead article from Backcountry.com has some great advice and guidelines. In looking at environmental impact, there are several factors to consider, one of the most important being, "Do you really need that item? Will you use it?" Product manufacturers have, for a long time, been making items more and more specialized, to the point where they'd love to convince you that you need 18 different jackets and 12 kinds of socks for different activities. Think before you succumb.
Here are a few other pieces of advice from the article:
1) Use renewable materials.
Not always easy, but hemp, cotton, and wool have a major advantage there. Patagonia and others are making things from recycled materials, giving garbage a second life. Heck, they'll even recycle your old parka.
2) Buy stuff that lasts and performs double duty.
I harp on this a lot here on the Practical Travel Gear blog because not only is this good for the environment, it's good for lightening your load.
3) Buy from gear companies that follow sustainable practices.
Again, not always easy, but the leaders in the travel gear world are miles ahead of most other kinds of companies in this regard. Their staffers spend a lot of time in the outdoors instead of just in cubicles, so they tend to care more about nature. If you're about to make a major purchase and this matters, peruse their websites and read the tags in the stores.