5 Ideas for a More Sustainable Spring Break

Whether you’re planning a staycation this spring break or planning a trip away, your actions have a global impact. Global tourism produces about 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, this includes transportation, hotels and lodging, activities, and other miscellaneous buildings, items and structures people use while traveling. 

With 53% of people aged 18 – 34 planning to go somewhere for spring break, the occasion is a good reason to see and explore our beautiful planet as well as be conscious of your environmental impact.

If you’re planning a trip away this spring break consider these actions:


If you’re spending the day at the beach, why not donate some of your time volunteering? You can have fun in the sun — and in the ocean — all while knowing you made a positive difference at the end of the day.

Find a local beach clean-up using site’s like Volunteer Match or searching local chapters of an organization like Surfrider Foundation.

Reach out to a coral nursery or marine/nature center, like Gumbo Limbo in Boca Raton, Florida, at your destination.  

Scuba dive with a purpose through PADI’s Project Aware or The Coral Restoration Foundation.

Volunteer all week doing projects like protecting sea turtles through sites like International Volunteer Headquarters.


Look for green accommodations

In 2017, Green Lodging Trends revealed that 41% of hotels surveyed globally measured their property’s carbon footprint. 44% of hoteliers surveyed reported that guest feedback led to a change on-site related to sustainability. Look for hotels, bed and breakfasts, lodges and resorts that are committed to making sustainable choices — does your accommodation have a plastic ban, strive for zero waste, or have efficient water and energy use practices in place? Even some major hotel chains like Fairmont, Hilton, and Hyatt Hotels have taken more sustainable actions in the last few years.  

Research or book through a site like Book Different, which indicates and ranks hotels by certain sustainability factors.


Be aware of the products you’re using.

Last year Hawaii passed a ban on chemically-based sunscreen, voting to ban sunscreens with the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate. This year Key West, Florida did the same thing, unanimously. While coral reefs have been experiencing bleaching around the world due to higher temperatures linked to human-caused climate change, scientists have found that chemically-based sunscreens can induce the same effect.

Before heading to the beach, read our guide on reef-safe sunscreens.


Skip the plastic.

Another product that seems to always find its way into the ocean is plastic. 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans each year. Consider using a reusable water bottle instead of packing a cooler of plastic bottles or packing your lunch in a reusable container instead of single-use plastic sandwich baggies — if you’re not using the plastic to begin with you won’t have to worry about it going into the ocean!

Invest in plastic alternatives like a reusable lunch container, metal straw, bamboo travel silverware, or a reusable bag.


Consider your carbon footprint

Transportation tends to be the biggest part of someones travel emissions, in 2016 the transportation sector of the economy accounted for the largest source of carbon emissions in the U.S.  A few simple ways you can help curb the carbon pollution is by looking for non-stop flights, asking for a hybrid or electric vehicle if you’re renting a car, sharing your taxi with others, using public transportation, which Google can help you plan ahead for, or renting a beach cruiser to coast along the coast.

Use a carbon calculator to start tracking your carbon footprint.


Image credit: Jennifer Manville

Planning a staycation instead?

Even if you’re planning to stay home for spring break, you can make similar decisions and incorporate these habits into your regular routine. Find community volunteer events or visit a nature and science museum, an aquarium, or a botanical garden close by. Whether you’re staying home or traveling, consider hosting a Chasing Coral movie night to spread the word about our changing oceans. 

Read our guide for hosting a sustainable screening here.