Travel Green - Some Easy Tips

The United Nations has appointed 2017 as The International Year of Sustainable Tourism.

This means as travelers, businesses and human beings, we have a responsibility to care for and leave a positive impact on our environment while wandering about our planet. We need to take action and speak out. We need to encourage the industry to become more responsible.

In 2015, 7.2 trillion dollars were spent on Travel and Tourism, accounting for nearly 10% of the global GDP, and one in ten jobs are a result of this industry. That is quite a positive economic impact!

Unfortunately the environmental impression from this industry isn’t quite so positive to say the least.  Negative impacts from tourism occur when the level of visitor use is greater than the environment's ability to cope with this use. This includes the depletion of local natural resources, pollution and waste problems.

Here are a few tips for travelling green on your next vacation:

-   Before you leave, remember to turn off and unplug everything that does not need to be on and turn down your heat or A/C.

-  Consider taking a vacation closer to home. Many of us live in places where tourists from elsewhere visit, so take a holiday in your hometown and find out what it has to offer.

-  Use other modes of transportation when possible. Trains and buses are more energy efficient than airplanes. Even cars can be more efficient than planes, especially with multiple passengers.

-  If you do fly, choose the most direct route possible, since take-offs and landings use the most fuel, and fly during the daytime, because studies have shown that flights taken at night have a greater impact on the climate.

-  Pack light - lighter planes mean less fuel is burned.

-  Most of the plastic that has been produced is still here, so remember to bring reusable bags and water bottles for your trip.

photo by Campi ya Kenzi

photo by Campi ya Kenzi

-  Choose a hotel that is eco-friendly. A quick google search can tell you which hotels have the best green policies. Leed certified hotels are a great option. Other programs to look for are: Green Key Global, Green Globe International, Green Seal and EcoRooms & EcoSuites

-  While at your hotel, reuse towels and sheets, and remember to turn off lights, TV’s and heating/air conditioning when you leave the room.

-  Remember to stay on paths while on hikes and respect the area. Whether you are at the beach or hiking through a jungle - clean up after yourself!

-  Use Reef-safe sunscreens. They are very easy to find on-line. Here is one option

-  Never participate in animal petting of any kind or animal selfie shots. Do not visit animals in captivity who are used for entertainment (that includes zoos, marinas and circuses), and riding elephants is never an ethical activity no matter what anyone tells you.

-  Consider volunteering on your vacation, but do the research before you go and make sure they are legit.

-  Reconsider taking a cruise. Cruise ships are travelled by approximately 25 million passengers each year and the average daily garbage created by each passenger is around 8 pounds. The math is staggering! Many of these gargantuan floating hotels create as many air pollutants as five million cars going the same distance and burn over 150 tonnes of fuel a day.


Today's Cruelty Free Product

Eco Max - In Canada

An environmentally responsible company producing cruelty-free cleaning/laundry products. One of the first Canadian manufacturers to register their environmentally friendly cleaners with EcoLogo. You can buy on line here or find them at your local supermarket in the organic section and they are quite often on sale.

Method Products - USA

Method is a cruelty free company who consider the past, present and future implications in everything they do. Again you can shop on line here or find them in your local grocery store. If they don't carry these products, ask them too. Your dollars speak volumes.

Eco-Friendly Travel Tips

Your journey to becoming an eco-friendly tourist starts with a few simple ideas. We have put together just a few green tips for your next trip. 

Pack for the Planet - 2 million people pass through US customs on any given day. Many of their suitcases and bags are filled with ziplocks, batteries, water bottles and disposable snacks. To cut down on all this garbage, pack reusable water bottles, use rechargeable batteries and tupperware containers can hold your snacks and your toiletries. Make sure your sunscreen is reef safe too! Also, the less you pack, the lighter your load and the more fuel-efficient you will be.

Stay at an Eco-Friendly Hotel - Since green has become the new black, these are easy to find with a quick google search. It's simple, the more we support these types of vacation spots, the more of them will follow our dollars.

Take a Volunteer Holiday - Rebuilding reefs, assisting at a turtle rescue or volunteering at a local animal shelter are just a few of the options you can include in your vacation. If you are booking a volunteer holiday be sure and check that the organization is legit first.

Walk, Bike or Take Public Transit - While you are away on your vacation, get out and see the area by taking a hike or renting a bike. Using public transit can cut down on your travel expenses as well as helping the planet!

Take Only Memories and Leave Only Footprints - Stick to marked trails to avoid causing harm to the local flora, and consider bringing a bag with you to pick up trash along the way. It helps to keep the area beautiful but also protects animals from eating it or getting tangled.

Finally, before you leave home, be sure to unplug your tv's, microwaves and all your chargers. Even on standby mode, they all use up electricity.

It may seem that the eco-friendly actions of one person traveling are insignificant, but multiply that by millions each day and the impact makes a world of difference!

Our One and Only World

Absolutely everything we do in our daily lives has some type of impact on our environment. Many of our daily habits may have more of an impact that you might have realized, so for today, I would like you to Consider This…

Eating with disposable chopsticks – not one I ever considered, but over 80 billion pairs are thrown out each year. They all end up in landfills. The plastic ones don’t biodegrade and their wooden counterparts take over 4 million trees a year to produce just in China! Sulfur, paraffin and insect repellents are used in the production. 

Easy fix:  Buy a few pairs of reusable sticks and put them in your home, car, your purse or briefcase.

Here is one we like.

If you prefer made in the USA, try these.

Campi ya Kanzi, Kenya - Luxury and Eco Friendly!

Italian owners, Luca and Antonella are hands on at this amazing luxury retreat.

Several beautiful tented cottages and suites are located on 283,000 acres of Maasai conservation area with spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro. Incredible safari's and hikes take place in this diverse eco system with the special treat of no other tourists! Tembo House (the heart of the camp) has been constructed with lava rocks, thatch and sustainable wood, and is where the main dining takes place. Fine Italian and local dishes are prepared using organic ingredients and are served by friendly Maasai waiters. 

Their mandate is to have the lowest impact possible on the environment. Each day of your stay contributes $101 to the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, which among many other things, compensates Maasai farmers for lost livestock due to predators, and is responsible for tripling the local lion population over the last three years. 

Photovoltaic panels are used for electricity and the water catchment systems provides a carbon footprint of ZERO! Low energy appliances, recycling of all water, eco-friendly soaps, composting and sustainable farming all add to the true ecotourism practiced by Campi ya Kanzi. 

BOTTOM LINE:  If you are looking for a truly amazing experience, filled with genuine and unique adventures, then the luxury filled Campi ya Kenzi is your pick!

BUCKET LIST - The Safari Collection - Giraffe Manor

The Giraffe Manor is one of four luxury boutique resorts in Kenya owned by Tanya and Mikey Carr-Hartley (The Safari Collection). This exclusive hotel is set on 12 acres of private land and offers many unique luxuries. Most fascinating is the herd of Rothschild Giraffes that visit every morning and evening and poke their heads into the windows in hopes of a treat. Something that I absolutely need to see!

The Safari Collection of resorts are focused on both sustainability and giving back. Through a few carefully selected projects, they support conservation and community development, all of which directly conserve wildlife, addressing the causes of their decline and meeting the needs of the surrounding communities.

Their goal is to provide guests with amazing personal safari experiences while making a contribution to Kenya's wildlife, cultures and eco systems. They have put in place many procedures to reduces their usage of energy, water and materials.

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Come back for more details on this amazing property!

We Only Have One World

coral reef.jpg

The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it-Robert Swan.

On any given day we are inundated with messages about water, soil and air pollution, global warming, fracking, overuse of pesticides, deforestation, GMO’s and a very long list of issues that are negatively affecting the planet we live on. It can seem overwhelming. 

USING SUNSCREEN – This is a topic with much debate. Studies have shown the common ingredient oxybenzone used in sun screens has a detrimental effect on coral reefs around the world, some studies say it is toxic for us as well. Other studies state that while coral does not do well when exposed to oxybenzone, other factors like over-fishing, global warming and pollution are part of the problem as well – no duh! 


-          Keep covered up

-          wear sunglasses

-          wear SPF clothing

-          find shade or bring an umbrella

-          use water resistant sunscreens and ones that don’t contain oxybenzone

-          Here is one that we like. 

The bottom line is, we all need to care, we need to help out where we can, and we need to realize that we are all connected-the earth, oceans, animals, air and humans. We need to respect each other and create an environment that doesn’t need protecting.


The Ritz Carlton, Toronto

After many years, I recently made it back to my home town just North East of Toronto. While visiting my family I stayed at the beautiful and luxurious Ritz Carlton, Toronto.  The first thing I noticed was the staff and facilities are both impeccable! This Ritz has a great location in Toronto's Entertainment District, only blocks away from the Distillery District and Financial District. It is also directly connected to the PATH, Toronto's downtown walkway linking 27 kilometers of underground shopping, services, and entertainment.  

Here are some things to know about this luxury hotel.

- This sophisticated hotel opened in 2011 near Toronto’s CN Tower.
- The rooms are gorgeous, with amazing beds, contemporary furnishings, heated floors, and either city or water views from the floor-to-ceiling windows.  
- My room was on the 17th floor and had a remarkable view of Lake Ontario and the CN Tower. The room came with access to the Club Level where you can relax and have all day access to complementary snacks, appetizers, alcoholic drinks and delicious desserts.

The Ritz-Carlton Spa (Spa My Blend by Clarins) is one of Toronto’s largest spas and certainly one of its most luxurious. The exclusive spa has sixteen treatment rooms (including one Cloud Nine suite), a nine-station nail salon with private pedicure cabins, three relaxation lounges, Sun Rooms, a vitality pool, a lap pool, a yoga studio and much more! I visited the spa with my mom and sister. The staff were friendly, knowledgeable and professional. We began with a tour of all the amenities and then were all treated with an incredible hour long regeneration facial. Mine included a foot massage which I highly recommend!

TOCA, The Toronto Ritz-Carlton’s on-site restaurant, serves Canadian cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It offers a variety of pastries and has a wine cellar and a cheese cave. TOCA Bar has an outdoor patio with views of Metro Hall Park.

I did leave my dogs at home this time but I was thrilled to learn that pets are not excluded from the luxury: all rooms are potentially pet-friendly for an additional $150 per stay but they are limited to cats and dogs under 30 pounds.

I was extremely pleased to find out that The Ritz Carton Hotels are very involved with environmental issues.

They have deployed a global program to calculate carbon and water footprint, waste diversion, and energy intensity at their hotels and resorts around the world. Innovative systems that lesson the environmental impact of laundry operations have been employed. They work with waste and recycling partners to reduce the tonnage transported to landfills, and divert waste through recycling and food composting. They also collaborate with Clean the World, a non-profit that collects partially used soaps and other hygiene amenities.

Bottom Line:

I have traveled the world and stayed at many exclusive hotels, and can easily say this 5 star hotel exudes luxury, their attention to detail is impeccable, and the attentive staff go above and beyond to cater to your needs. I will definitely be returning the Ritz Carlton Toronto on my next visit! To make your reservations, click here

Consider This... Water

Thomas Fuller said it best, “We never know the worth of water till the well is dry”.

In the middle of a very cold winter two years ago, I went out to fill the water troughs for my Highland cows. I was horrified when the turned-on tap didn’t produce a single drop because just like us, animals cannot live without water. Water is life and there is not a single living organism that can live without it. And yet, we collectively waste it, pollute it and allow companies to drain our aquafers even during the worst of droughts.

It has been said that the Earth provides for everyone’s need but not everyone’s greed, and that is what I would like to talk about today. It is unlikely that the Earth will ever run out of water, but how much of our H2O remains usable and available to those who need it, is of great concern. Experts have predicted in less than 10 years nearly three billion people will be experiencing a real water scarcity and two thirds of the world will be living under water-stressed conditions. Some feel armed conflicts will result. That being said, I would like you to Consider This….

The number of issues facing our water supply is immense. From fracking and global warming to polluting our oceans and drinking water to a growing demand and a growing population, the list goes on and on.

I am going to talk mostly about our water-footprint which is basically the total amount of H2O that is needed for the production of all goods and services added to our personal water usage. There are a lot of numbers out there, but in North America the norm is about 7800 litres (2060 gallons) per day-which is as much as it takes to fill an Olympic sized pool!

I know it seems like that number is completely ridiculous, but let’s walk through a typical morning for many of us. We get up and take a shower, brush our teeth, flush the toilet, and then eat a breakfast of say toast, eggs with a couple of pieces of bacon, a small glass of juice and a cup of coffee to wash it down. We haven’t left the house and have already used about 1200 litres or 320 gallons, and that doesn’t include the over 5,000 litres/1320 gallons it took to put on our cotton shirt and our favorite pair of jeans. It also took water to make the dishes we eat off of and produce the shampoo and to run the electricity and and and...

The cars we drive take more than 60,000 gallons to produce, and then there is 2 gallons of H2O for every gallon of gas. Some of our favorite treats take enormous amounts of water to produce from almonds at a gallon for each one to about 400 gallons for a chocolate bar and 60 gallons to produce a glass of wine. There is good news for Beer drinkers – each beer takes only 19 gallons to produce and for the vegans and vegetarians out there, your water-footprint is much less than the meat eaters. With beef, chicken and pork ringing in between 600 and 1850 gallons per pound, which is around 150 times more than it takes to grow the same weight in plant food.

If you would like to figure out your water-footprint, there is a very cool tool on line that calculates your daily average water footprint (this one is specific to America, but you can use it to get a good idea).

Not running the water to brush our teeth and purchasing low flow everything helps but that type of water usage is very small compared to what is used to produce food and consumer products. So what can we do?

One of the most important things we can do is to be less wasteful. This means stop overbuying food that ends up in the landfills and clothing that we hardly wear. Work hard at the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Eat lower on the food chain-start off with Meatless Mondays, then add another day or two of vegetarian or vegan meals. If you do eat meat, buy locally produced grass fed products. Buy less processed foods, more sustainable foods and grow some yourself. Don’t support companies that are known for their water crimes-a quick Google search will tell you who they are. Fix leaks, buy Energy Star appliances, use shower buckets, take fewer baths, and conserve energy.

We all need to work at creating an environment that doesn’t need protecting, and we do this with knowledge and our efforts.