I did not really expect thoughts of being more sustainable to follow me on my recent family vacation. We were hoping to go to the family wedding and then out to Lake Michigan to check out the sand dunes and beaches. Within the first 2 days I had enough items from restaurants, hotels, and tourist attraction magazines to fill up plenty of notes.
The first morning I noticed that the Red Roof Inn’s “green” card was printed on material made from entirely 100% post-consumer polyethelene. The next hotel (Sheraton in Ann Arbor) had a “Green Choice” program which went well beyond the usual ones I had seen to date. Their program gave you a restaurant credit or loyalty points if you waived room cleaning (and the attendant laundry usage for sheets and towels). Given the fact we have a toddler, room cleaning is kind of a relative concept. I took the points (and Sheraton saved water usage and money). The lounge at the Sheraton also declared as part of its mission that they wanted to incorporate locally sourced ingredients while supporting the environment and sustainable initiatives, so the menu would have seasonal variety.
While reading the Ypsilanti tourism magazine, I discovered that there is a formalized list of places there to recycle and reuse various items. It is really called the “Trash to Treasure Trail”. Some of it is thrift shops, but some of it includes actual recycling places. Needless to say, I have never seen such an itinerary in any other tourism magazine before. Nor have I (before my Michigan trip), seen a hotel ad bragging about meeting state certifications for “Green Lodging”. It turns out that Michigan has a state program (jointly administered by the Department of Environmental Quality and state energy office) to certify hotels, motels, B & Bs and the like as “green lodgings” if they meet specific standards. Just another thing new I discovered on my Michigan trip.
However, the purpose of the trip was a vacation, not really sustainability research. So it was time to decrease the research component and increase the vacation component. We had a fabulous time, and are looking forward to the next family event to build a trip around.