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Business travelers go green

Sure, you care about the environment; but in your hectic travel life, do you have time to behave in an ecologically responsible way? Now you do, thanks to new initiatives by the travel industry.
Now it's easier than ever before for business travelers to help the environment.
Now it's easier than ever before for business travelers to help the environment.
/ Source: Forbes

Now it's easier than ever before for business travelers to help the environment.

Sure, you care about the environment; but in your hectic travel life, do you have time to behave in an ecologically responsible way? Now you do, thanks to new initiatives by the travel industry.

The desire to help the environment is widespread: 43 million U.S. travelers say they are concerned, according to the Green Hotel Association, a Texas-based trade organization that promotes ecological consciousness in the hospitality industry.

"It's become more ingrained in travelers that the environment is an issue," says Adam Weissenberg, managing partner of Deloitte & Touche's Hospitality and Leisure Practice. "There is a segment of the business travel population, especially younger generations, that is demanding more environmentally friendly choices when they travel, and the hospitality industry is trying to do their bit to meet this demand."

This April, Leading Hotels of the World, the largest global luxury travel brand, teamed up with Sustainable Travel International, a non-profit organization that supports responsible tourism, to launch an initiative called . For every night a guest stays at one of its 430 properties, Leading makes a donation of 50 cents to STI.

To get the donation, guests need to make the reservation or mention "Leading Green" when booking by phone. The donation represents 29.3 kilowatt-hours of electricity supplied by new wind and solar power, which is equal to 33.7 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, according to STI. The organization invests the money in renewable energy.

In March, the 51-property Fairmont chain launched , a program that gives business travelers conducting meetings or participating in conferences such options as putting recycling bins in meeting rooms, using energy-efficient light bulbs, using real china and cutlery (instead of disposables) and using white boards instead of flip charts (to reduce paper consumption).

Patricia Griffin, president of the Green Hotel Association, says 50 hotels have joined her organization in the past month alone, bringing total membership up to 350. "Since the public is more interested in environmental consciousness, hotels are becoming more aware," she says.

It's not just hotels. Rental car companies are also doing their part. In the past year, both have increased their number of fuel-efficient cars. Some 187,500 vehicles — about half their combined fleet — are now fuel-efficient.

With these and other eco-friendly initiatives proliferating, it's increasingly easy for business travelers to help the environment.