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How to Recycle While on Vacation


It's easy to recycle when you're at home. Even the smallest apartments have room for a recycling bin or bag. When you're on the road, however, finding recycling stations can be a real challenge. You'll need to plan ahead if you want to recycle during your vacation.

Research Hotels and Recycling Centers Online

Your first job will be to look up recycling centers, drop-off points and hotels with recycling programs before you leave home. If you plan to stay in a chain hotel, check to see whether the property you're considering offers in-room or lobby recycling bins. You can call and ask the front desk staff or look up the hotel online. Environmentally Friendly Hotels' website includes a "Best Green Hotels" database which includes over 750 properties that offer some type of recycling bins. You can use the website's advanced search feature to find these hotels.

Some hotel chains, including Kimpton, Element and America's Best Inns and Suites in the U.S. and Scandic Hotels in northern Europe, offer in-room recycling bins at all of their properties.

You can also take recyclables to a recycling center or drop-off station. While most community recycling centers restrict use to local residents only, you can find a tourist-friendly drop-off point by searching at Earth911.com. Some retail and grocery store chains offer recycling stations. For example, in 2010, all Target stores installed recycling bins for customer use. If your travels take you past a college campus, you may be able to find recycling bins there, too.

Learn the Rules

You should also find out how recycling works at your vacation destination. For instance, some U. S. counties allow you to recycle all kinds of paper and cardboard, while others restrict paper recycling to newspapers and office paper. In Canada, you can sell back your empty recyclable beverage containers to reclaim the deposit you paid at the time of purchase. Knowing what to do with your recyclables can help you save time and, at least in Canada, a bit of money as well.

Pack Recycling Supplies

Consider packing a box or large bag to hold recyclables during your trip. Plastic grocery bags work in a pinch, but you might prefer to reuse them, particularly if you had to pay for them in the first place. Bring along a few paper towels to mop up spills. At the end of your trip, you can recycle the box or bag along with your paper, cans and bottles.

Shop Wisely

As you buy groceries and supplies for your trip, look for environmentally-friendly packaging. Buying products that come in only one layer of packaging can reduce the amount of trash and recycling you put into the waste management system.

You may be able to find packaging that goes back to nature, too. For example, Whole Foods offers its take-out food in compostable containers, and Frito-Lay's SunChips come in compostable bags.

The Bottom Line

Recycling may require extra time and effort, but the results are worth it. We should never take a vacation from caring for the environment.

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