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  • Writer's pictureCheré Dastugue Coen

It's Earth Day. Love Your Mother!

Think about your footprint when you travel this year. We'll show you how.

passion flower

It’s Earth Day in north Georgia, and I woke to a chilly condo. Two days ago it was warm enough for air conditioning but this morning it’s in the 40s! I put on the heater to rise the temperature to 67 but the debate lingers in my mind, do I stop using energy to fight climate change or make myself comfortable?


And isn’t that the big question today? Except it’s the question we must ask ourselves every day.

earth day

Another conundrum that pains my soul is travel. It’s my job to visit Southern places, celebrate the unique cultural aspects of our region and share them on these pages to encourage others to travel there too. There’s so much to see and experience in our varied collection of states.


But it comes at a price. Travel spews fossil fuels into the atmosphere and contributes to climate change. Those wonderful destinations we love to visit become victims to some of the worst natural disasters. I should know. I’m a native of New Orleans.


It’s easy to lose hope reading essays such as this.

Which is why we have Earth Day.

To offer solutions.

Here are mine...

westin hotel
Westin Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska


I’ve seen great strides in reducing energy consumption in hotels, but then it works in their economic favor. I’m sure part of that effort is saving money. Still, kudos to them for using glasses instead of plastic (remember the days when that was always the case, the ones with the paper tops?), encouraging us to hang up our towels (really, didn't your Momma teach you that?) and putting shampoo in the shower instead of those small disposable plastic ones.

And yet, when I hang up my towels in my hotel room I return to find new ones anyway. The coffee machines are usually Keurig which means little plastic pods to throw away and the condiments that go with coffee are usually wrapped in plastic.

I love the recycling bins but does housekeeping really separate our trash and recycle?


Don’t get me started on the breakfast buffet with its Styrofoam, plastic utensils and other instruments of Planet Earth death.


Hotels, you can do way more!

Traveling by Car

Here comes the conservation vs comfort debate. I don’t have to tell you that driving a smaller car gets you better mileage, do I? Do you really need a giant truck the size of an apartment complex to move a family of four to your Momma's house? And I really don’t want to hear you moan about the price of gas.


So, bottom line, drive smart.


When you stop for nourishment, do you head straight for the mini-mart and fast food, those establishments that keep the plastic industry in business? Try bringing your own water bottle to be refilled and frequent local restaurants instead, the ones with ceramic plates, real forks, knives and glasses, and not plastic to be thrown away.

Remember, around 70 percent of plastic DOES NOT get recycled and ends up in landfills and waterways. It's estimated that there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish in 30 years.

Want to learn more? Earth Day offers this video to explain the dangers of the prevalence of plastics in our lives. And if think you know a lot about plastics, try this quiz.


To quench that thirst when traveling (and this goes for flights as well), use a tumbler for your water. Many places have water fountains where you can refill them. I know most airports do. Don't have a tumbler? Go to Goodwill and get one. The shelves are full of them.


If you do have recyclable waste, put a bag in your back seat and store it until you can bring it to a recycling center.


Carpool if you can. Use public transportation if available. Catch an Amtrak train.

Visit Green

Instead of or in addition to the beach and amusement attractions, visit a National Park or affiliate, a local nature center or animal refuge. Take a hike, such as this one in the north Georgia mountains, or paddle down some lovely Southern waterway, such as this delightful swamp we visited in Statesboro, Ga. Studies have shown being in nature restores our health. Just remember the old adage: take only photos, leave only footprints.



In many instances, visitors may visit a destination and volunteer to help the environment. Some companies offer fossil fuel offsets in the destinations when they plan conventions there.


Or…visit places that are working to help curb climate change. I’m heading to Whiskey on the River next week, a cabin in the woods of Mississippi that’s completely sustainable and off the grid. I’ll be reporting on my visit so check back!

We always think our little efforts make no change in the big picture, but as my Southern mother would say, “Every little bit helps said the lady as she peed in the sea.”


Yeah, no idea where that came from.


But you get the picture. Travel wise, y’all. Travel with your Mother in mind, the one we live on.


Happy Earth Day

Weird, Wacky & Wild South is written by travel writer Cheré Dastugue Coen, who's never met a tree she didn't want to hug.





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1 comentario

Bruce Coen
Bruce Coen
22 abr

Wonderful article! The only way we're going to reverse the destruction that climate change has already brought to our planet is if the majority of humans follow simple daily routines ( as described in this blog ) and we totally get away from fossil fuel consumption!

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