Traveling green in West Virginia
My quest to make autumn camping trips environmentally sustainable.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010 - 16:04
GREEN DREAMS: Spend the night with the great outdoors and use my tips to minimize your impact! (Photo: Kristina Sandi)
With such abnormally high temperatures lately here in West Virginia, it is hard to believe that fall is just around the corner. I feel like I spent most of August inside my house, hiding from the humidity and watching reruns of reality TV shows. Thankfully, it seems that September has brought in those cooler temperatures that many of us have been waiting for here in West Virginia. Now that I can step outside my front door without immediately becoming drenched in sweat, I think that it is time to get back in touch with the great outdoors. (You can only watch so many episodes of "Jersey Shore" before you start to go a little crazy.)
In need of some nature-based inspiration, I began researching parks and general attractions in my state and found out that many of West Virginia's parks offer a "September Camping Promotion" to attract early fall visitors. You can find mid-week discounts of up to 20 percent off cabin rentals and 50 percent off camping spots. I like to conserve money almost as much as I like to conserve the environment so needless to say I was pretty thrilled to find such a great special. A good, old-fashioned camping trip is just what I need to get out of my summer rut.
The older I get and the further I dive into my environmental advocacy, the more ways I learn to practice sustainability in everything that I do. Like any other aspect of life, there are ways to practice sustainability and environmental conservation in traveling. I have decided that I am going to take as many measures as possible to ensure that my camping trip will be the most sustainable camping trip I have ever done.
Green travel basics
Ecotourism, sustainable tourism and geotourism are all terms used to describe low-impact styles of seeing the world. Though all these principles emphasize the need to protect our world's most famous natural resources, they also express the need to preserve and even enhance the culture and economy of the people who live near these resources. Practicing sustainability as a traveler is about minimizing your impact on the natural world and cultivating a relationship with the place and the people that you visit.
In order to make my camping trip as environmentally and culturally sustainable as possible, I have set four basic rules for myself to follow throughout my trip:
1) I will only eat at locally owned restaurants. I want to know that the money I spend while traveling will directly benefit the community I am visiting.
2) I will practice the "Leave No Trace" principles of camping. This is pretty much the code of ethics for outdoor enthusiasts who don't want to harm the environment.
3) I will buy local produce to cook at my campsite. In this season, there are no shortages of farmers markets or roadside stands offering all types of tasty, locally-grown produce.
4) I will stop at every town tourism center I see to learn more about the history and the culture of the communities I am traveling through. I want to know what makes the places I visit unique.
I am leaving for my camping trip next week and cannot wait to feel the gratification of traveling green. Hopefully I have inspired you to take a camping trip of your own.
If West Virginia sounds like somewhere you would like to visit, check out the list of parks offering September discounts.
For more information on green traveling or tourism in Appalachia in general, check out www.travelgreenappalachia.com. This is an organization dedicated to building West Virginia's economy through sustainable tourism development. The website offers a lot of great information about unique places to visit and how to minimize your impact while you are there.
From the places we live, the food we eat, and the cars we drive to the stores we choose to conduct business — we must remember that sustainability and environmental conservation can be incorporated into almost everything we do. I wish everyone a season of happy and green traveling!