A light touch on eco-travel

A light touch on eco-travel

Most of the serious environmentalists you’ll talk to have spent the last year or so feeling uneasy about all the press and publicity that the green movement is getting. There’s a "When will the other shoe drop?" sensation, given that the public’s attention span for any one crisis is so short. It sure doesn’t help when the whole topic gets watered down and pressed into service as a marketing pitch at every turn.

Exhibit A might be the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s "Virginia Green Travel Month," which is what they’re calling April. Governor Kaine is in on the act, as is the Department of Environmental Quality. Hotels and restaurants can earn a green certification by "committing to waste-reducing activities." And would-be tourists can go to this site for, it’s said, green travel ideas.

Problem is, what they’ll find there is an unfortunate combination of the vague and the puzzling. This promo line for Floyd County, for example, is vague: "Come and get close to the land in Floyd, and see what it’s like to be nurtured by nature." Vague, also, is the idea that just being outside is in itself a green activity. It can be, sure, but if you drive alone in your SUV to the trailhead parking lot, drink three disposable plastic bottles of water during your hike, and step on a salamander near the top of the mountain, your hike is not that green.

Similarly, the fact that one can walk to stuff on the Downtown Mall does not necessarily make Charlottesville a "green" destination, and golfing at Wintergreen is really not a legitimately eco-friendly activity. Yet these are both ideas mentioned on the Virginia Green website.

Green? Well, maaaaybee….

As for the puzzling, the notion of gas discounts being included in any notion of green travel is extremely puzzling.

I’m all for encouraging people to green up their vacation plans, but not if it means actually leading them astray. You feel me, greenies? Want to post some ideas for a truly sustainable getaway?