When I was growing up in the 1970s, ecology was all the rage. The Environmental Protection Agency had been formed by the federal government as a response to a country that was steadily becoming more and more polluted by unregulated corporations. New courses in high school were developed called “Earth Science” and green was in.
That this public consciousness was notable for this particular time seems odd to me now. Did it fade, as many fads do? (Of course, the ’70s had other fads that went away, including macramé and glass-cutting kits that allowed you to turn beverage bottles into vases. We also stopped making our own yogurt with those machines that never seemed to produce a product with the right consistency.)
The fact that we headed into some, well, heady times, didn’t help. Consumers became more and more narcissistic and the idea of indulging themselves, whether in their own homes or at a luxury hotel, became the norm. The focus shifted from the environment to a mindset of living for the moment.
From Fad to Fact of Life
Well, now green is back in style and we can thank Al Gore for instilling it back into popular culture. Of course, there are many others who have dedicated their lives to saving the planet, but there’s nothing like a good film (i.e., An Inconvenient Truth) to make us all think twice about where we toss those empty plastic Poland Spring water bottles.
Because the travel industry in particular has embraced the concept of being environmentally friendly, we decided to dedicate our entire April 13, 2009 issue (which is printed on recycled paper) of Travel Agent to green issues. We’ve tried to cut through the public relations clutter of information that’s out there by leaving out properties that promote themselves as “green” when they’re only doing what they, as good citizens of the world, should be doing—such as recycling and using responsible energy systems to run their properties.
In planning this issue, we also took into consideration that the green movement might not yet impact your business; I think it’s unlikely you’ve received a call from a client who only wants to stay at an environmentally sound hotel. (If you have, let me know!) It is our hope, however, that by calling attention to this very important issue, we’ll keep the resurrected green movement from being more than a fad, and that it will become a part of all our lives—whether we’re at home or on a plane, in a rental car or visiting one of the great hotels of the world.
By the way, if you want a comprehensive resource of what travel suppliers are doing to raise awareness of the environment, visit www.travelagentcentral.com/green. Be sure to bookmark it, as we’ll be updating it constantly.