As sustainability gains prominence worldwide, more cities are making concerted efforts to reduce their carbon footprints. This is great news not just for residents but for tourists as well. Travelers can now visit the Ten Most Sustainable Cities in the World — from Copenhagen in Denmark with its extensive bike infrastructure to Amsterdam in the Netherlands with its commitment to electric vehicles — and enjoy guilt-free travels in these eco-friendly destinations.
However, these aren’t the only places where travelers can embrace sustainability. Even in popular tourist destinations like Hawaii, you can still make deliberate choices to ensure an environmentally responsible experience. In this article, we explore four tips that will allow you to enjoy this stunning paradise while contributing to its preservation.
Choose Sustainable Accommodations
Instead of staying in a conventional hotel or resort by the city center, consider embracing a different, more eco-friendly approach. A farm stay at The Inn by Kulaniapia Falls offers a unique lodging option away from overtouristed places. Situated in the hills of Hilo, this inn is powered by a magnificent 120-foot waterfall and solar panels. Rappel down the falls, tour the farmlands or take cooking classes with the Kulaniapia “farmily” for an authentic Hawaiian experience — without harming the environment or the people who call the place home.
If you need to choose accommodations nearer the tourist centers, pay attention to how the hotel prioritizes sustainability in its operations before booking. For instance, the Soul Community Planet Hilo Hotel in Hilo uses energy-efficient systems like solar power while donating to the Hawaii Wildlife Fund. By being critical of your accommodations, you actively support ecotourism and reduce the environmental impact of your stay.
Opt For An Electric Vehicle
Unlike regular fuel vehicles, electric vehicles are more environmentally friendly and produce zero tailpipe emissions. They also provide a quieter and smoother ride compared to conventional vehicles. When renting a car in Oahu, you have the option to not only reserve your vehicle ahead of time but also to choose one that reduces your carbon footprint. Discover some of your new favorite beaches outside of Waikiki or Lanikai while driving a Tesla Model 3 or Tesla Long Range, and enjoy the scenic drives of the island knowing that your choice of vehicle makes a real difference to the environment.
While choosing an electric vehicle as your rental car is great, you can also feel free to leave the automobile at your accommodation and opt for walking or biking for shorter distances. You can enjoy the scenery leisurely and take advantage of the pedestrian-friendly paths and bike lanes in towns like Waikiki. In many rural or natural areas, you can explore on foot through hiking trails or by joining guided eco-friendly tours.
Avoid Single Use Plastics
Hawaii is committed to environmental conservation. Maui and Kauai have banned plastic bags from store checkouts since 2011, with the Big Island and Honolulu following suit in 2014 and 2015, respectively. By 2024, plastic water bottle usage in Hawaii may also be banned. Once the bill enters into law, bottles under two liters of water may no longer be bought anywhere on the island.
As a responsible traveler, supporting and adhering to these initiatives is essential. Bring your own reusable water bottle, mesh bags, and metal utensils to minimize plastic waste. This small change in your habits can help local efforts keep the islands pristine and protect the diverse wildlife that calls Hawaii home.
Patronize Sustainable Businesses
Beyond transportation and accommodation, sustainable tourism includes your choices while dining, shopping, and exploring Hawaii’s local culture. Consider dining at farm-to-table restaurants like Mama’s Fish House in Maui, which supports local farmers, reduces food miles and offers fresh, seasonal dishes by a stunning beachfront. Otherwise, explore local markets and boutiques while buying souvenirs. The Hilo Farmers Market on the Big Island or the Maui Swap Meet offers unique, handmade products, art, and crafts that reflect Hawaiian culture and can be found nowhere else on the island.
Such local businesses strive to provide authentic experiences while reducing their environmental impact and supporting the local community. With the right choices, you can still enjoy fantastic experiences while keeping spots like Hawaii beautiful for generations to come. For more resources on sustainable travel and businesses worldwide, visit Green.org, where we can help you make informed choices for your future adventures.
Dylan Welch is the CEO and Host of Going Green, a podcast, website, and social media brand that highlights renewable energy, cleantech, and sustainable news.