Author of ‘The Green Year’ Offers Tips for the Summer

Summer is in full swing, and you should take advantage of it.

Jodi Helmer

Jodi Helmer

But “getting away from it all” doesn’t mean you should forget about Mother Earth.

Jodi Helmer has written a book called “The Green Year: 365 Small Things You Can Do to Make a Big Difference.”

I spoke with her recently and she offers these tips:

I’m planning a summer vacation. How can I make it greener?

The key to planning a green summer vacation is planning. Research your destination and look for hotels that employ eco-friendly practices ( is a great place to start), seek out restaurants that serve dishes made with organic and local ingredients and plan activities that have minimal impact on the environment. In the summer, hiking, kayaking and bicycling are all good options.
I live in Michigan, do camping and fishing count? Why or why not?

Camping and fishing do count as eco-friendly summer vacation options IF you employ green practices. For example, camp in designated campsites, pack out your trash and limit fires to fire pits. Fishing in a canoe or kayak is much more environmentally friendly than using a motorboat, which releases pollutants into the air and water.

Do you think there will be more green ways to travel in the near future with moves by the Obama administration? High-speed rail, for instance?

I think the Obama administration is more focused on green initiatives than any other administration in the past. I also believe there is more demand for green travel options than ever before, which has led to an intensified focus on developing eco friendly transportation options.

The book

The book

What’s the greatest impediment to going green for the common summer vacationer or traveler? Isn’t it too hard? Won’t it put a damper on my fun?

I believe that the myth that it’s difficult, time consuming and expensive to go green on vacation is one of the biggest reasons that more travelers don’t incorporate eco-friendly options into their summer vacations. Once travelers realize that making a few simple changes – like switching to biodegradable sunscreen and not leaving the a/c on full blast when they’re not in their hotel rooms – has a huge impact on the planet, I think that more people will start incorporating green habits into their daily lives, including their summer vacations.

After summer is over, what about the fall and winter? Any ideas for greening your fall and winter travels, or weekends?

Carpool or take public transportation, if possible, and focus on activities that have less of an impact on the planet. Go apple picking at an organic orchard instead of buying apples at the supermarket, go cross-country skiing, organize a game of touch football in the park … it’s just a matter of being conscious about your choices.

— Helmer, from Charlotte, North Carolina, maintains a web site at

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