The French motto is “C’est la vie.” But when the glass jars, aluminum cans and plastic bottles started adding up during our holiday vacation in Paris last week, my conscience said otherwise.
I admit, a few baby food jars did end up in the trash before my husband and I wised up. At home, with all the routines, conveniently placed bins and curbside pickup, recycling is second nature. Away from home, I suppose the added stress and time involved in figuring out how recycling works is enough to deter even the most diligent recycler.
At the small studio we rented at a Buddhist center, we weren’t sure how recycling worked there either. So we reused one of our shopping bags as a makeshift recycling bin and left it next to the trash when we checked out. Then I sent a follow-up email to the woman who manages the apartments and suggested that if they do recycle that perhaps they could inform their guests about how they can participate. Whether the Evian bottles and soda cans we set aside ended up getting recycled, I don’t know. But we definitely sent a message, and our vacation was not weighed down with eco-guilt.
In addition to politely persuading your choice of lodging to get with the recycling program, here are a few other easy ways to reduce your waste when traveling:
- If you are traveling in the U.S., a quick call to 1-800-CLEANUP will tell you where the nearest recycling facilities are. Or visit earth911.org.
- Keep a few extra bags in your car while road-tripping to collect your recyclables. Rest areas often have recycling facilities, or you can recycle it all once you get home.
- When visiting museums, return the brochure or guide at the entrance as you leave if there’s a good chance you will never glance at it again.
- BYOT. Shampoo, conditioner, lotion … bring your own toiletries in reusable containers rather than using and trashing the ones the hotel gives you.
- Use your iPod or cell phone to digitally carry your itinerary, maps, etc., instead of having lots of printouts. Some airlines can even send your boarding pass to a mobile device.