Travel gives you a chance to see what others do

Whenever our schedules and budget permit, my husband and I like to travel, going somewhere we’ve never been and experiencing different cultures.

As far as possible, we travel independently so that we get off the beaten path and meet local people.

This may be a little weird, but I also get a real kick out of seeing examples of recycling and green initiatives in different cities in the U.S. and different countries.

It gives me affirmation there are communities everywhere trying to make a difference and it’s not just something we are doing locally.

In Central Florida, I recently stayed at a historic lodge that participates in two voluntary resource conservation programs — the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Lodging program and the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Water CHAMP program, which was also implemented by the South Florida district in the Keys. They provide reusable plates, cups and silverware at breakfast, and the guest rooms prominently display reminders to conserve resources.

In Hong Kong, all the grocery stores and convenience stores charge for plastic bags.

In Colombia, the grocery stores use plastic bags that are biodegradable, and most hotels have water-conservation programs. In a small hotel in Cartagena, there was a beautiful carved wooden sign in the bathroom reminding guests to conserve water.

It is true that in many countries, conservation is a necessity, but resource-rich areas can learn from them.

Even after I return home, I am definitely more conscious of my water consumption.

In Hong Kong, there are recycling receptacles in even the remotest of parks in the New Territories, on the mainland several miles north of Hong Kong Island.

Admittedly, making sure people don’t mix trash with the recyclables is difficult to enforce, but providing the opportunity to recycle is a step in the right direction.

I am always encouraged when I see any community make an effort because even the smallest amount makes a difference when everyone does it.

— Shirley Gun is a member of the Keyswide nonprofit Green Living & Energy Education. She writes about green living and the four R’s — reducing, reusing, recycling and rot (compost). E-mail