Credit: Davin Luke

When it comes to taking vacation, I classify people into three general categories. If you are in sales and marketing and you know about customer archetypes, you will find these groupings to be somewhat simplistic, but that’s fine with me because I am not an expert, just an observer that likes coming up with category names while sautéing onions in between “Deal or No Deal.”

Backyard Campers

The first category of vacationer I will label backyard campers. Backyard campers… ahem… camp in their backyards. They take their tent and homemade organic avocado salad seasoned with raspberry vinaigrette and bike over to the local park to reminisce about hyper-colour t-shirts, roast marshmallows and fall asleep watching the stars with Enya playing on their iPod. Let’s be honest, for the most part, this is a “green” vacation. Recycle your beer cans, properly dispose of your garbage and drive a hybrid (or bike). Most people can think of clever ways to make local vacations green.

Backpacking "Students"

The second category of vacationer is the backpacking “students” . I put students in quotes because that is the typical demographic. However, if you are young at heart or use plenty of Oil of Olay Age-Defying Revitalizing Youth Lotion, you also fall into this category. Backpackers fly out to various exotic locations around the world persuading their friends to visit “off the beaten path” locations that received the Thumbs Up icon in their Lonely Planet guide, which they cleverly sleeve-cover disguise as “Guns, Germs, and Steel” by Jared Diamond. Don’t roll your eyes people—I see a Lonely Planet Spain sitting on your bookshelf! Aside from the plane ride, the backpacker’s vacation is fairly minimalistic and green. If it were any more sustainable, there would be a resurgence of scurvy and Kraft would go out of business from the low inventory turnover of crackers and peanut butter.

The Buck Wild Vacationer

This all leads to the final category of vacationer, and the one I wish to focus on from a sustainability standpoint: the buck wild vacationer. We’ve all fit into this category at one point or other. These are the people with their two to four weeks vacation time each year that need to get out, leave the city, decompress all stress and anxiety, and be a high roller. Do I want a double Big Mac, six chicken nuggets and a Happy Meal toy? Hells yeah! Why not? I’m on vacation. Do I want to upgrade to the deluxe suite with powerful Jacuzzi jets massaging my butt till it loses all memory of the office chair? Why not? I’m on vacation. Do I want to exploit trained sea turtles to bring me Corona’s on their back while I go to the gift shop and buy four bottles of tequila and a stuffed Mountie Moose holding a big bottle of Maple Syrup? OH YEAH-ER, I’m on vacation!

Now, don’t get me wrong, with the exception of the sea turtle, these are all over-exaggerations to prove a point. When you are on vacation, living green may be put on the back burner. How do we solve this? I am not the person to ask. I will let my esteemed and knowledgeable colleague, Emily, come up with some awesome suggestions.

There is one thing I can suggest, though: Many hotels now give you the option to reuse your towels. So if you didn’t use your towel to wipe the Big Mac stain from your mouth, reuse it and save some water.