Published: March 15, 2022 By

Spring break is just around the corner… are you ready!  More importantly, are you thinking about how to make your spring break more sustainable so that we can keep celebrating this break from class for generations to come?

Support the Local Economy

One of the best things you can do while traveling is support the local economy. According to the U.S. Small Business Association and the U. S. Department of Labor, “For every $100 you spend at local businesses, $68 will stay in the community.” This can lead to a lot of different benefits, including that local businesses also are more likely to donate to local nonprofits that further help the community.

Dining at family-owned local restaurants is also helpful. According to FoodPrint, “Of the estimated 125 to 160 billion pounds of food that goes to waste every year, much of it is perfectly edible and nutritious.” Since small restaurants are more likely to locally source their goods than large chains, they prevent food waste during many different parts of the food chain, including food loss in produce packing houses, manufacturing facilities, and transportation and distribution networks.

Buying local, handmade goods also has an impact on the environment by providing an alternative to cheap, manufactured items. Handmade gifts also often carry more sentimental value because of their one-of-kind nature. And buying from local artisans helps them keep doing what they love!

Be Cautious of Local Ecosystems

Starting January 1st 2021, Hawaii banned popular sunscreen brands such as Hawaiian Tropic, Coppertone, and Banana Boat due to the existence of chemicals harmful to coral reefs and other marine life. The chemicals are oxybenzone and octinoxate. By doing our best to be aware of the needs of local ecosystems, we can help local land and populations stay healthy. The sunscreen contamination in Hawaii was harmful to sea turtles, marine mammals, and migratory birds, causing deformities and reproductive diseases and killing coral.

“One thing I try to hammer home in my classes when I talk about conservation issues is the idea of the tragedy of the commons,” said a BYU-Hawaii Biology professor. This describes the idea that if everyone has access to a shared resource they will act in their own self interest at the expense of others. By making ourselves aware and following local guidelines we can stay eco-friendly as we travel and explore new places.


Pack Zero Waste Items

There are zero waste alternatives to lots of popular travel items! By making the switch, you can make even the smallest aspects of your trip eco friendly.

  • Solid toiletries are available in different sizes and help combat plastic waste. Buying toiletries in bulk is also a great way to do this. Shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste are all available in solid forms.

  • Organic sunscreen, like we mentioned before, can help make sure local marine life stays as happy and healthy as you do during your vacation.

  • Bamboo toothbrushes are widely available and are a simple biodegradable switch from traditional plastic toothbrushes!

Bringing a portable water purifier to places without safe drinking water is a great alternative from buying countless plastic water bottles.

Go Camping

A great way to vacation in an eco-friendly way is to go camping. There are so many beautiful camping sites around Boulder and in Colorado to choose from. When you go camping, you reduce your carbon footprint by consuming less water and electricity than you would at home. It is important when camping to follow leave no trace principles in order to keep the earth as beautiful as you found it.

There are many benefits to camping, from access to better air quality to circadian rhythm improvements and stress relief.

Near Boulder, there are countless amazing campsites from Pawnee Campground to Rainbow Lakes campground. In addition, CU offers equipment rentals to students through the Outdoor Program in order to help you achieve your backpacking adventure goals.

Stay Sustainably

If you need to find a place to sleep that isn’t outdoors, there are a lot of ways to accomplish this in an eco friendly way. One way is to use Airbnb or Vrbo to book a vacation rental in a small residence with a smaller carbon footprint than a large hotel chain. You can also vet your hotels to make sure they are sustainably certified before choosing them. To find such hotels, you can use the website, which specializing in finding and aggregating eco-certified hotels for environmentally conscious vacationers.

CU Alternative Breaks

Finally, there are lots of opportunities through CU to make your Spring Break count. The Alternative Breaks program through the Volunteer Resource Center helps students find opportunities to spend their Spring Break volunteering. The opportunities that were available for Spring 2022 included helping an organization that focuses on recovery from natural disasters such as hurricanes and flooding in Louisiana, a trip to a science camp as a camp counselor in California, and a trip to a conservancy in California. Although the period to apply for Spring 2022 Alternative Breaks has closed, you can still plan in advance for next year by submitting an interest form on their website.

Alternative Breaks also sometimes has Weekend Breaks available as part of their program, which focus on outreach to local Colorado communities. There are also scholarships available to help fund the trips.