Travel greener this year challenge

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As a Zen seeker, we know you’re already on the path to greener travel and greener living. But what are you doing differently - better, more - this year than last? 

Just like with government climate change initiatives, we can’t just set a goal and forget about it. We have to take real action, now. But that doesn't mean we have to suffer unduly; taking green action is easier to achieve if you like doing it. So let's start there.

Read on for three ways you can go green now in your travels and adventures this summer, and support the outdoors community as you go.

3 Ways to Travel (and live) Greener Now

Here are three ways to make a difference when you travel and feel better about your individual footprint, today and beyond, as you adventure this summer.

  1. Adventure by bike - at home or away
  2. Leave natural spaces better than you found them
  3. Plant a firm legacy to cut carbon

1. Adventure by bike - at home or away

It has been said that “the bicycle is a simple solution to many of the world’s complex problems.” Unquestionably it’s the best way to get relief at the pumps. 

This summer, we could all probably park our cars more often and increase the trips we take by bike or foot, at home or abroad. This is especially true when traveling. And, exploring new communities by bike is more rewarding than from inside a vehicle.

Join your local community cycling and trail orgs

In between your travels, get involved with your local cycling community to get support for commuting and recreational cycling in and around where you live. 

Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and many smaller centres have long histories of bike support and advocacy. These organizations can help you with regular bicycle maintenance and repairs, meeting like-minded cyclists and advocating for trails, cycle paths and the broader bicycle user group in your area. 

Here’s a list of a few we know: 

Urban riding

Edmonton Bicycle Commuters

Bike Calgary

Bike Hub (Vancouver) 

Alberta and BC MTB/bike trail organizations

Edmonton MTB
Hinton Mountain Bike Association

Jasper Park Cycling Association - building a new skills park in 2022

Calgary Mountain Bike Alliance

Bragg Creek Trails Org

VARDA - Valemount Mountain Biking

North Okanagan Cycling Society (Vernon and area) 

North Shore Mountain Bike Association (Vancouver area) maintains a complete list of local mountain bike trail associations in BC and in Alberta.

Provincial cycling resources

Alberta Cycling Coalition - resources to get you cycling safely and connected to local cycling and support groups in Alberta

BC Cycling - resources to get you cycling safely and connected to local cycling and support groups in BC

Bicycle touring Edmonton Alberta e-bikes Walterdale Hill
Photo: Karl Lee
A summer e-bike tour of Edmonton is a great way to enjoy a sustainable travel experience.

2. Leave natural spaces better than you found them

Ah, it’s spring and the leaves are green, the birds are singing… and there’s an old shopping cart in the creek and a facemask hanging on a branch. With the explosion of interest in outdoor activity since the pandemic, there’s also been an unfortunate boom in the amount of trash on the trails.  

You know rule #1: leave no trace. But a corollary rule for the outdoors set is: leave nature better than you found it. (And no, that does not mean building an Inukshuk!)

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That’s where local clean up days come in. Spend a few hours helping clean up your nature areas (at home or on the road) and enjoy the benefits of less clutter and greater peace of mind. 

Clean up initiatives in Alberta and BC

Heading to the coast? Hitting a provincial park for your next vacation? You can help out by packing out what you packed in, and then some. Here’s some resources to get started.

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup
As of spring 2022, volunteers with GCSC collected 1914 kg of litter along 146 km of Canadian shore. Wow! Every little bit counts. Wherever and whenever you plan to hit the beach this summer, you can take an hour or two and make a difference.

Edmonton, AB 
Capital City Cleanup operations run year round, but spring efforts always ramp up after a season of buried trash reveals itself under the snow.

Vancouver, BC
In Vancouver, the City invites groups and individuals to start your own clean up party, any time

BC Parks Ecological Reserve Warden program
If you spend a lot of time in BC Parks, or one park in particular, this program may be for you. Essentially, you commit to spending time within the park, doing things like manual invasive plant control and flora and fauna inventories.

By acting locally, you’re making a difference globally. Looking after the environment isn’t just about limiting greenhouse gases (GHGs) and climate change. Localized pollution and waste goes into local lands and waterways, so by cleaning up your own backyard you’re helping reduce downstream impacts.

3. Plant a firm legacy to cut carbon

The science is clear: we need to beat back the onslaught of carbon-driven climate change, now. After a positive reduction in emissions during the first wave of the pandemic in 2020, 2021 saw a massive six per cent increase in energy-related global CO2 emissions as economies rebounded. We’re pushing the 1.5 C target cap for global temperature rise.

Preserving and expanding natural areas is a great way to both protect the places we love to adventure in, and keep the planet in good shape.

Tree Canada
Planting trees is straight up eco-gangsta. Tangible action, like few things. Tree Canada makes it easy. 

Also, did you know, with offset mode activated on Chrome as you browse, you can track your device’s electricity consumption and choose to make offsetting donations to Tree Canada? 

Protect our Winters
Started by a bunch of skiers, POW isn’t just about winter any more. It’s year round. Check out their #Crushit4Climate campaign and get involved this summer. 

Eat plants, help save the planet
Food is an essential part of any great journey, but the more we shift towards plant-based diets, the better for the earth. And it's easier than you might think - just check out health writer Marla Barr's advice on how to get started

More ways to travel and live greener

Support national and provincial parks and conservation areas. Use reusable water bottles and containers for hikes and picnics. Grow an urban garden in your yard (or kitchen). Create bee and butterfly habitats. Go pesticide free. There is a near endless list of environmental actions you can take that are all low-effort and rewarding. 

But the best way to make a green difference is to find the things that give you joy and do those first. Then it won’t feel like work, and you can build some positive momentum towards bigger changes and lifestyle improvements.

Are you ready to take the travel greener this year challenge? Tell us how you’re going to make a difference and have fun doing it, at #ZenSeekers.

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