Despite Mother Nature's indecisive weather patterns, spring has officially sprung. Saturday graced us with the balance of the vernal equinox.
As the season blossoms in our midst, it means little more than vacation time for most — a time to dust off the bikinis and flip flops, lather on the sunscreen, and reacquaint with the brightest star in the sky. A ritual adopted by teenagers and college co-eds alike, spring break, once infamous for alcohol induced activities and tropical excursions, has for many, transformed into something else entirely. This warm weather holiday now encourages something not only productive, but eco-friendly, and dare I say, carbon neutral. Ladies and gentlemen, I bring to you an enticing and sustainable adventure known simply as alternative-break.
May fortune favor those who forgo beer pong and beach volleyball in an effort to better the world and, undoubtedly, themselves. There are several options for those perusing the alternative route; whether through your college or university, or other inspired organization, there are unconventional ways to become involved in an alternative-break. The first step is to decide whether your aim is simply to maintain your green status via eco-vacations or to lend a helping hand through a volunteer organization such as Habitat for Humanity or Sierra Club.
If you're interested in indulging in a vacation of the charitable persuasion, there are various volunteer matches depending on your interests. There are several websites that offer volunteer matching services, and help you to become directly involved in social and environmental issues. One such program, entitled Break Away: The Alternative Break Connection
, hosts over 100 member colleges and universities, and offers the option of over 400 non-profit agencies with which to become involved, ranging from tutoring in the community to building homes in rural areas of the country. Whatever program you choose, you will undoubtedly uncover a new appreciation for national (and perhaps international) social and environmental issues. After you relish in the fact that you're not battling the dreaded spring break hangover, share your newfound wisdom and alternative-break experience within your campus and community!
If it's eco-friendly travel
you're after, start by analyzing a few key elements, the first being the medium of travel you plan to use. If your itinerary takes you far and wide, consider purchasing carbon offsets
to neutralize your footprint, as well as searching for nonstop flights, as this option burns less fuel. If flying is the best option for your travels, avoid becoming a victim of stale cabin air with a dose of vitamins, proper hydration, and if it's truly too much to bare, try H. Gillerman Organics Travel Remedy
product line to refocus the mind ... in convenient travel sizes!
When you reach your destination, take advantage of public transportation and walk or bike when feasible. Carry a portable, reusable bag with you to double a stroll along the shore with litter clean-up. Further immerse yourself in the culture by exploring the local organic fare to show your support for your host community. If you really have the green travel bug, search for sustainable lodging. Options includes staying with a local family, or if you feel more comfortable, research green hostels and hotels in the area. Overall, the easiest ways to reduce your impact are to travel light and recycle whenever the option is available.