How to plan an eco-friendly vacation from start to finish

If you travel, you will leave a charcoal smudge in your wake. You cant help it. Planes spew carbon emissions, hotels guzzle gallons of water to launder sheets and towels, and thirsty travelers chug-a-lug plastic bottles of water. But dont let the guilt dampen your vacation. Eco-friendly travel practices can lift the remorse and lighten the blemish on Mother Earth.

Green travel is not a passing trend but a portable lifestyle choice. According to a TripAdvisor survey, nearly two-thirds of travelers plan to make more environmentally sound choices over the next year. A majority of respondents said that they turn off the lights when leaving their rooms, participate in the hotels program to reuse linens and towels, and recycle on-site. Travelers can do much more by building an eco-trip block by block.

Sustainable travel is all about creating a positive effect on the communities you visit, said Jon Bruno, executive director of the International Ecotourism Society. Leave the place better than you found it.

Easy, right? Not always.

Environmentalists often tout arcane terms such as low-VOC paint, warm-mix asphalt and aeroponic gardening.Eco-extremists can make you feel guilty for wanting a hot shower and lightbulbs that dont cause eyestrain. And less-than-honest properties and tour operators embellish their Earth-friendly achievements, an act of falsehood called greenwashing.

But dont let these challenges deter you.

When our choices align with our eco-interests and values, said Dawn Head, ow....

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