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Tips for a “Green Vacation”

Recycle-Logo-with-Nature-SceneLiving on an island, we are constantly reminded of reduce, reuse, recycle. There is limited space, every chemical that goes into the ground anywhere on the island runs off into the surrounding waters, and there is no solid waste dump – all trash must be trucked and ferried off island.

As a Green property, we go to great lengths to live that motto. This week alone there were three different situations when we had to go the extra mile to do “the right thing.” Last week was the Island’s annual hazardous waste round up. That is the one day each year when we can drop off old paints, solvents and cleaning solutions. We had 10 gallons of spoiled paint that needed to be disposed of. We stored it for a year waiting for the annual event to dispose of it properly. Since we have eliminated or greatly minimized the use of these products, we should have nothing to store or contribute in the future.

Speaking of storing, we have also been collecting used printer cartridges. This week we shipped off a big box to HP to recycle. We wanted to reduce our carbon foot print by sending one consolidated box instead of 6 smaller boxes. Since most of our non-consumables for the Inns have to come from the mainland, we end up with lots of packaging material – cardboard, Styrofoam and packing peanuts. We recycle the cardboard, use the styrofoam  for packaging and bag the packing peanuts for Post San Juan. They are an island shipping company that uses them for mailing. So there are days that our business office is piled high with delivery boxes and packaging materials. There were a few days last month that we needed a blind corner mirror so we could see who was entering.

As we embark on the busiest travel time of the year, the Island’s demand for water and trash removal rises exponentially. During the summer months when the number of visitors is at its peak, the Town of Friday Harbor alone exports 33% more trash per month, roughly 45 tons more than in winter. That’s JUST for our small incorporated Town and the Island’s entry seaport, 1.23 square miles in size as compared to the entire of 55 square miles. Multiply 33% more for the whole island and you get an idea of how important Reduce, Reuse, Recycle becomes.

We know visitors come here for the beauty of the island, so it’s critical that we have your help in maintaining this gem. Here are some tips so that you can help our Island community reduce the impact of visitors while still enjoying a green holiday.

  1. Reduce your carbon foot print
    1. Leave your vehicle on the mainland and walk on the ferry, or take airport shuttles and Kenmore to get here.
    2. Pack light. Standard island attire is casual everywhere you go; bring clothing that is easily washed in a hotel sink or use guest laundry facilities when necessary.
    3. Walk, ride a bicycle, or use the transit bus to explore the island rather than using your car.
    4. Stay at an eco-friendly Inn or hotel.
    5. Dine at restaurants that use sustainable ingredients from local producers.
    6. Recycle, recycle, recycle.
    7. Use rechargeable batteries.
    8. When recycling facilities for specialty items such as batteries are not available, take those expired batteries back with you to dispose of properly on the mainland.
    9. Turn off heat and other appliances when leaving your room.
    10. Use biodegradable sunscreen.
  2. Reduce waste
    1. Bring re-usable water bottles instead of purchasing bottled water. You can refill your bottle anywhere there’s potable water.
    2. Buy whole foods instead of pre-packaged prepared items when cooking in your vacation suite or rental.
    3. For take-out meals, take only the amount of condiments and napkins that you will actually use.
    4. Bring your own toiletries instead of using pre-packaged single use containers.
    5. Purchase only the amount of food that you can consume while you are visiting.
    6. Bring reusable shopping bags, or purchase one from our gift shop or in island shops; carry them with you on all island and shopping excursions.
  3. Reduce water usage
    1. Keep your showers short.
    2. Shut off water while brushing your teeth.
    3. Reuse your towels and sheets instead of having them changed daily.

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