Wednesday 9th June, 2010

A green tourist in London

Classic souvenir selection. Image courtesy Alex France.

Planning to visit London this summer? The metropolis prepares for eco-friendly tourism.

London has ambitious environmental and climate change targets, which include a massive tourism industry that attracts 26 million visitors every year. To meet the targets, the London Development Agency, responsible for tourism development in the capital, launched the Green Tourism award scheme earlier this year.

Hotels, guesthouses, theatres, attractions and venues can get Bronze, Silver or Gold awards so that visitors know how green their choices are.

The first green tip, then, is to look for the Green Tourism award at hotels and guesthouses you are considering when searching for accommodation.

There are other things you can do to earn a green tourism badge:  

Train or flight?
Do you have to fly to London or is it possible to take the train? Eurostar goes from several large towns in central Europe to the centre of London and emits a 10th of the carbon that a plane does for the same distance.

Recycle Your Guide Books
You probably know someone who has visited London before. Ask to borrow their guidebook. If you have to buy one yourself, let friends take it later or even leave it in your hotel room for the next guest.

Use your legs
The best way to see London is on foot. However, if your legs start to hurt, jump on a double-decker! Do not hire a car. It is both bad for the environment and not very practical. You will end up spending more time in a queue when renting it than actually seeing  London.

Act like you are home
Treat your hotel room as if it was your own home. Do not leave the light on if you are not using the room, turn off unnecessary electrical gadgets and turn down the air-conditioning by even just one or two degrees.

Reduce Your Laundry
Do you change your shower towel every day at home? No, I didn’t think so. Use your towel more than once a day at the hotel as well. The average hotel room uses 40 per cent of their energy on their laundry.

Use Your Own Toiletries
Unless the hotel you are living in has refillable dispensers of soap, shampoo and body lotion; do not use the little bottles. They result in huge amounts of garbage in addition to the energy used in the production of these cute little items.

Minimise Waste
Bring your own eco-friendly shopping bags from home and do not use plastic bags during your shopping.

Support Independent Shops
Find local markets and buy locally made products. Not only will you end up with more memorable souvenirs, but it will save the environment from transport energy as well.

For more information, see Visit London

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