How to Go Green With Silv: A More Explorative Vacation by Silvia Milanova, August 10 2011, 0 Comments

Eco Vacation

Imagine diving into the blue waters of the coast of Queensland and studying the magical powers of the Great Barrier Reef, sailing alongside enormous icebergs in chilly Alaska, or planting carbon-sucking trees in the dense Mindo Cloudforest in exotic Ecuador.

Instead of visiting Italy (again) and stuffing your faces with pasta, like the Jersey Shore castmembers, you could be on your way to an ‘eco-friendlycation’, green not only in its planning and where you stay, but also in what you do while at your destination.

And I’m not just talking about Ecotourism—eliminating your negative impact on the environment, and leaving as much of a positive footprint on the local life as possible. I am talking about a vamped-up Volunteer Vacation where your lounging by the pool is replaced by some manual labor; all for the benefit of Mother Earth.

Here are some of my suggestions. You can find more ideas through the EarthWatch Institute, where you can search expeditions by region, year and type of research.

  • If you’re an animal lover like me, and enjoy sailing in the ocean (don’t forget to wear your mineral sunscreen!), you can combine both interests by studying dolphins in Greece. You will learn how the marine mammals interact with the environment, and how [over]fishing and pollution affect their habitat and conservation. Did I mention the yummy, heart-healthy Mediterranean food you can engulf while there? Bring stretchy pants!

  • Since I am also a major treehugger (I literally hug trees sometimes to thank them for their oxygen expenditure), I was very interested in the Hanga Roa expedition on Easter Island, Chile. During this experience, you will replant trees in deforested Rapa Nui areas, dig test-pits to document the evolution of farming, test and prepare soil for more abundant plant growth and have the pleasure of photographing the beauty of the island, its diversity and its prehistoric Polynesian society.

  • If freezing temperatures and frostbite are more your forte, you can head over to Churchill, MB, Canada to test carbon gas storage and see how rapidly rising Earth temperatures are affecting our climate. Not only will you be measuring snowpack thickness and studying ice crystal varieties, but you can also sleep in your own ice house, by learning how to build a classic igloo. Make sure you bring plenty of layers if you’re going during the winter trip; in February, temperatures outside can range from -30 to -40 degrees Celsius.

  • Traveling internationally might not be your interest—if you’d prefer to make a change domestically (or you just don’t want to wait for weeks for a new Passport), check out warm Albuquerque, NM—or the Land of Enchantment—which offers scenic views of the Rio Grande Rift. While there, you will become a temporary scientist; collecting data about the relationship between tectonics and volcanism. This geological research will help you better understand the local environmental issues such as water resources and natural hazard mitigation. Sounds like some dusty fun!

This is only a sample of the hundreds of trips environmental volunteers like you make each year. If your interest wasn’t piqued in the list above, don’t be discouraged. There are tons more fun expeditions you can experience, all while helping preserve the planet and its natural habitats.

So, before summer comes to an end, go ahead and take your family (or yourself) on a nice, little journey, where your efforts will truly pay off, in the greenest of ways. Happy diving, climbing and hiking!