Polluting the holiday atmosphere

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Should we all be flying 'carbon neutral' and if so, how does it work? Is it all just a con? Rennie Brown finds the answers and gives you a guide to being green.

Polluting the holiday atmosphere
Offset your jet setting

Flying releases a cocktail of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. A return flight from London to Barcelona releases 0.26 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide per person. It's a staggering figure when you consider that the average household takes over 2 months to produce equivalent emissions. Offsetting your CO2 is one way you can limit the damage your holiday has on the environment. Companies such as Climate Care and The Carbon Neutral Company enable you to calculate exactly how much pollution you are responsible for. Once you've calculated, you can make a payment to have your flight emissions offset by a carbon neutralising project. Carbon neutralising projects prevent the production of CO2 or absorb it from the atmosphere. One of Climate Care's projects provides efficient cooking stoves for people in Madagascar. The stoves reduce the amount of CO2 that would normally be produced by cooking. Other projects include restoring rainforests and introducing energy efficient lighting. Offsetting your flights is surprisingly inexpensive. To offset return flights from London to New York costs £11.55 with Climate Care. Click on the links to offset your next holiday Climate Care or carbon neutral Responsible travel

As a responsible traveller, you make a positive contribution to the area you visit - economically, socially and environmentally. It's a bit like Fair Trade for the tourist industry. A wide range of holidays are covered by the term. Being a responsible traveller could mean relaxing at an eco lodge or something more energetic, like volunteering on a local wildlife project or helping in areas affected by natural disasters.

Unfortunately, there isn't a governing body to monitor the responsible travel industry. As a result, many operators stuff their brochures with eco buzzwords just to pick up business. This practice is known as 'greenwashing' and is particularly common with eco lodges. Make sure that your holiday is as green as it claims to be by choosing a trusted operator. If you have any doubts, ask to see your operator's eco policies. For a good range of well screened holidays, visit www.responsibletravel.com. The site only features holidays from tour operators who stick to a strict code. You can find more holiday ideas in The Lonely Planet's book, 'Code Green.' If you've got a taste for ethical adventure, the book's destinations will be guaranteed to whet your appetite. You can practically smell the fresh air in the photographs! Holiday here!

Instead of jumping on a plane and heading for a far-flung land, take a holiday in the UK. Staying here doesn't mean you have to miss out on beaches and culture. Check out St Ives, Cornwall's original artists' colony or head for Newquay and the surrounding coast for miles of beautiful beaches and pounding surf. The Cornish Tourist Board promotes sustainable tourism. Look on their website for visitor advice and listings of green accommodation at www.cornwalltouristboard.co.uk If you're after romance, it's hard not to fall in love with the charming coastal villages of Dumfries & Galloway and the heart-stopping wilds of The Highlands. Scotland's National Tourist Board has a green tourism business scheme, which encourages hotels and guesthouses to be environmentally friendly. Accommodation is given a green rating, which you can check on the Visit Scotland website. For a truly green-themed holiday, take a trip to the Centre of Alternative Technology in Snowdonia. The centre is spread out over seven acres and includes working examples of environmentally responsible buildings, sustainable energy and other green living info. You can't stay at the site but the centre's website has a list of accommodation available locally at www.cat.org.uk Pick up eco points for travelling on public transport or by bike or offset the emissions of your car journey. Holiday at home

Home holidays are great for the environment and easy on your wallet. But you've got to get into the holiday spirit to make them work. You wouldn't worry about DIY or cleaning if you were on a beach so apply the same principal to your break at home. Put everyday projects aside and spend your time visiting local attractions and relaxing. Shirking your household responsibilities for a week feels deliciously like bunking-off school. And you could always spend some of the holiday cash you've saved on a cleaner or a handyman. Staying local means you won't be responsible for polluting the environment through car and plane emissions. And if you want a really crystal clear conscience, switch your electricity supplier to one that provides green energy. Npower have partnered up with Greenpeace to develop clean electricity. To find out more visit http://www.npower-deals.co.uk/npower-juice.php

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