Why Is Being Green on Vacation Such a Low Priority?

Myrtle Beach Shoreline

Myrtle Beach Shoreline

Here is the sad truth.   When you go on vacation, you might as well leave your environmental side at home.  Otherwise, you will be stressed to the gills.  Trust me. I know.

Recently, we spent the week in a vacation resort area of South Carolina. I fought the good fight for a week and lost.   Three Rs were more like relax, revive, and replenish.  The other 3 Rs?  Foreign cousins.

Before, you start waving your hands and say, Anna, there are plenty of resorts that would suit your environmental palette, let me explain.   My kids love Myrtle Beach.  Mini Golf, the beach, and ice cream galore.  Do kids need anything else?  Now, I am not just wagging my finger at Myrtle Beach.  I bet there are other resort areas that suffer from the same problems that I list below.

Read on and let me know how you are able to keep your environmental sanity on vacation.

Plastic Binge Shopping

Propel Plastic Bottle Purchases

Propel Plastic Bottle Purchases

Beggars can’t be choosy when it comes to buying food in resort areas.   We as a family of six increased the market share price of plastic stocks for the week.  Worse yet, we bought the unspeakable.  Plastic water bottles.  As hubby explained to me, he wasn’t drinking fluoridated water.

The use of fluoride in the water supply has been very controversial since fluoride is used in rat poison.  Our water supply in our area of New Jersey does not contain fluoride.  So which is worse in your opinion?  Fluoride or estrogen and antimony leaching from the plastic water bottle?

But wait, can’t bottle water have fluoride added to it?  Yep.  But the FDA requires that if fluoride is added to the water, it must be listed. So check the labels.

The Bag Man Slept with Us

For some reason, we accumulated tons of plastic bags. Groceries.  Runs to the pharmacy for lotion.  Must needed clothes for school.  You name it.  There was a plastic bag.  You would think we were drugged since we kept taking them.

“Sure.  Hand us another plastic bag.”

I told you.  My environmental side just gave up.  However, she scored some victories in keep the bags out of the landfills. How?  You are not going to believe this when I say this.  Thank goodness for Wal-Mart. (Close your mouth.  It is hard for me to say too.)  WM was the only game in town that was recycling plastic bags.

Recycling?  Is that Word in our Vocabulary?

I thought I was in a different country.  Where was recycling?  I can’t imagine the amount of paper, plastic, etc, generated from vacationers which just end up in landfills.  I started hoarding my paper, plastic, and glass hoping to find a place to recycle. Yes, I became a bag lady.   There were no obvious bins or areas for recycling in the resort.

At one point I asked a maintenance person and he told me they were in the trash area.  However, they only took cardboard and plastic.  What about paper, I inquired.  He replied, “nah, we just throw it away.”  Throw it away?

So, wherever we went, I would look for bins.  I found bins at the  local tennis court, the gym, and a mini recycling center. We even found a small bin by the trash at the resort.   How small.  Don’t even ask given the number of units on the floors.

As for the paper?  I kept my recycled paper in a plastic bag, and brought it home to recycle.

Based upon what I know from New Jersey, hauling waste is expensive.  The cost to collect recycling is so much cheaper.  Is South Carolina different?  Is waste removal cheap so resort owners don’t care?  Or do they think it is fruitless to  put out recycling bins?

Name Me the Trash Queen

Trash Accumulated on Vacation

Trash Accumulated on Vacation

I am ashamed at the amount of trash we produced despite my efforts to recycle.  Leftover food, peels, tea bags, plastic which couldn’t be recycled, etc.  You won’t believe how hard it was for me to throw away peels, egg shells, and tea bags.  My garden loves this but hubby would never have agreed to take it home.


Local Farmers Market

Local NC Farmers Market

Okay. First take a deep breath.  My suggestions?

  • Try and buy consciously as you can.  This means, if you can buy less plastic laden products do.  If not, do the best you can.
  • Bring and use your reusable bags if you can.  If not, find out if the grocery stores take back the bags.  Wal-Mart does.
  • Ask at your resort how you recycle.  If they can’t tell you, then call the Town Hall.
  • Don’t rely on buying eco friendly products where you are going.  They may be hard to find so make sure you bring what you need.
  • If you are a vegetarian or vegan, check out UrbanSpoon or Happy Cow for restaurant listings that serve vegetarian or vegan food.  Realize that vegetarian food to some restaurants are meals made with cheese and bread.  I checked all the menus before we dined at a restaurant.
  • If organic fruits and vegetables aren’t available, try and source locally and ask the farmer if he or she uses pesticides. If all else fails, avoid the dirty dozens fruits and vegetables.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Join the Conversation:

  • Do you find going on vacation environmentally frustrating?
  • What are your strategies when you go on vacation?
  • Or do you say the heck with it and live life?
  • Does a good bottle of wine and a chocolate bar cure all problems?

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  1. 1


    I find vacations pretty frustration on a green level too. There definitely has to be a level of compromise compared with what you can do at home. I have to say, though, that I was fortunate enough to have a pretty green vacation this summer. Stayed at my mother’s house in San Diego while she was on a cruise. Not an exciting vacation to do with the husband and kids, but really budget friendly and much easier to behave environmentally.

    A good chocolate solves a lot of problems for me too. Wine not so much, but I’ve never developed a taste for any alcoholic drinks somehow. You’re free to enjoy it, though.
    Stephanie – Green Stay at Home Mom´s last blog post ..Grilled Chicken Salad – Cheap Packed School Lunch Idea

    • 2


      I love San Diego! Next time, I can come and stay at your mom’s house when she is away. I am really good at watering the plants. :) Last time we were there we went kayaking in the bay. (I think it was the bay.) So much fun.

      As for wine, I am with you. I don’t drink it but most of my friends do and swear by it therapeutic value. I prefer chocolate, myself! Anna
      Anna@GreenTalk´s last blog post .. Why Is Being Green on Vacation Such a Low Priority?

  2. 3


    The only thing I usually have to compromise on is composting. It is hard to throw all those scraps into the garbage! For everything else I do a bit of research in advance to find out what the local practices are and then plan from there. I take reusable shopping bags with us too so we can use those for all our purchases.

    For hotels etc we try to pick one that has a good green rating. We bring a lot of our own products so we don’t have to use their tiny little bottles and soaps. We don’t have our towels and sheets washed/changed out each day.
    Jen´s last blog post ..No Paper Project

  3. 7

    mimi says

    On our vacation to Kauai this spring, we bought two one-liter size single use water bottles so that we could refill them with gallon size water bottles from the market. Better than buying a lot of the single use bottles. I originally wanted to pack our reusable bottles from home in our luggage, but at $23/bag, it was not feasible. We also brought several reusable bags in our luggage. Of course I was disgusted by the amount of recycling we had to throw away because our condo did not offer recycling. Luckily by the third day, we found city recycling sites to take paper, plastic, and metal. Whew!

  4. 9


    I find it so frustrating to go to the grocery storeon vacation. Most vacation destinations that we go to don’t have organic food anywhere in sight. Some are getting a little better, but it’s still slim pickins. I do my best to shop at home before we leave and bring a big cooler of food…that’s provided we are driving where we go.
    Rachel´s last blog post ..Organic Cloth Diapers Review

  5. 11

    Don says

    It is sad that people are neglecting being reasonable. Most tourists are throwing things bought at malls upon having a vacation. They just want to enjoy, they don’t want to think about home, so with this they just make litters of things they don’t want. Plastics, mostly are thrown and yes the water bottles! One of the main things that litters even on the trash cans, they just could give a heart to place it there properly.
    Don´s last blog post ..LPN to RN

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