This autumn, as fall color and activities are heating up, and it’s more important than ever we all do our part to help protect our favorite travel destinations and outdoor places. But this doesn’t have to mean radically changing the way you spend your time on vacation or that you can’t enjoy your favorite activities or pastimes.
In fact, being mindful about your personal impact on an outdoor space or cultural site can enhance your experience by helping you slow down, pay attention to details, and feel more connected to a place.
Here are seven simple but impactful ways to make your time in Door County as eco-friendly as possible and gain a new appreciation for the places you visit this fall.
1. Bring Your Own Reusable Plastic Items
From water bottles and straws to cutlery, shopping bags, and food containers, these days there’s a reusable version of just about everything.
Plan ahead and bring reusable versions of your commonly used eating and drinking items or buy them when you get here. This helps you ensure there’s always a water bottle or a canvas bag nearby when you need them but also that you're doing your part to cut down on trash and waste.
2. Walk or Bike as Much as Possible
While having a car is a must for getting around, nearly all communities are walkable or bikeable. That means many towns have trails, paths, sidewalks for pedestrians (and kids on bikes), bike racks, crosswalks, and other pedestrian- and bike-friendly infrastructure in place. Park in town once and walk or bike from shop to shop or restaurant to restaurant.
3. Bring Your Electric Car or Rent One
If you have your own or you’re able to rent or borrow one, consider driving an electric car while you’re here.
Door County has many electric vehicle charging stations throughout various communities. Note that while these stations are free to use, some require you to be a registered guest of the hotel or lodging establishment at which they’re located.
4. Recreate in Designated Areas Only
Whether it’s your campsite, daysite, picnic spot, or photo opportunity, be sure to have your fun in designated places only.
That means camping at official campsites only, staying on trails during hikes or rides, and not wandering onto private property or into dangerous areas for a picture. Respect the time park rangers and others have taken to make these spaces usable and beautiful.
5. Pack Out All Garbage
Take care of nature by packing out any garbage or waste, including plastic water bottles, food or product packaging, pet waste, fuel canisters, and any other man-made materials you bring in with you.
There’s nothing worse than arriving at your campsite only to find food remnants from past campers or kayaking across a peaceful inland lake littered with plastic bottles.
Leaving trash or waste on the trail, at the campsite, on the beach, in town, or anywhere else degrades the scenery and experience for others, and it can be dangerous for wildlife and plantlife.
6. Eat Local and Sustainable
Most of the restaurants, markets, and food stops you’ll find up here will be locally owned and operated. But when you dine at a food establishment that uses locally sourced produce and ingredients, you also support the local farmers and producers who made them.
Like this article states, look for eateries that mention:
- Using fresh, local ingredients
- Using in-season produce and ingredients
- Growing their own vegetables and herbs
- Sourcing high-quality and ethically produced meat and animal products
- Focusing on nutritious and produce-forward dishes and embracing vegetarian and vegan options
- Eliminating unnecessary waste products like plastic straws, styrofoam to-go containers, plastic cutlery, napkins, plastic coffee cup tops, and more
- Working with local farmers, growers, and suppliers who use sustainable farming practices
7. Seek Out Lesser-Known Places
Door County’s state parks and other iconic destinations are famous for their scenic beauty and geographical attractions, but they’re not the only places where you can take in the view.
Find lesser-known and lesser-visited places by:
- Exploring the Door County: Unearthed video series
- Spending a day geocaching
- Visiting during winter
- Doing a day hike or hiking a longer trail
Traveling green this fall doesn’t mean giving up the things you love doing or foregoing travel altogether. It simply means shifting your mindset, planning ahead, and sometimes adjusting travel plans so you can be sure your time in Door County is safe, sustainable, and satisfying.
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