California’s green scene

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Thanks to shows such as the Real Housewives and MTV’s Laguna Beach which see skinny socialites and rich kids cruise up and down the Californian coast in their porsches, you don’t immediately think of California as a green destination.

However while there is truth to the television stereotypes, since touching down on America’s west coast a fortnight ago I have been pleasantly surprised by Californians’ collective enthusiasm for the environment.

Case in point? Every accommodation option I have stayed in so far – from hostels to hotels and motels –  contain two bins. One is for trash (that’s rubbish to us Brits) and the other is for items that can be recycled. In the city of San Francisco, large grocery stores and chain pharmacies are banned from issuing customers with plastic bags  and owing to a new proposal that was approved earlier this year, other shops could soon be following suit.

The golden state has long been known as a driving destination and admittedly I can’t see California’s love affair with automobiles diminishing anytime soon. However there is hope: low emission vehicles are the most sought after in the state.

California is to be commended on the food front too. Local, seasonal eating is a trend that is taking off around the world in 2012, but it started 40 years ago in California. Unlike other places in America where it’s all about burgers and fries, Californian menus revolve around seasonal produce from farmers markets or, increasingly, ingredients that have been grown in peoples’ backyards! As a vegetarian, travelling can often be tough in that many restaurants either ignore us herbivores or else serve up an underwhelmingns plate of pasta. Not so in California. I am currently in Santa Cruz where happily vegetarians’ needs are not neglected. There’s a cornucopia of dedicated veggie restaurants  in this quintessential Californian coastal town a few hours south of San Francisco, while bars and bistros  also offer at least one mouthwatering meat free main (I enjoyed a fabulous organic ratatouille and glaum ranch egg dish overlooking the beach at Casablanca Bistro, last night).

California’s also recently voted to fund construction of solar powered plants. Added to this the state must, by law, get 33 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, demonstrating that California is committed to cleaning up its environmental act.

How can tourists help? Here’s how:

* By choosing not to wash your towel every day and switching off lights and air conditioning in your hotel room. Sure it isn’t going to save the planet, but it’s a start.

* Leave animals and plants  as you find them, for all to enjoy.

* Buy locally produced foods and eat at locally owned restaurants wherever possible.

* Try not to waste water – it’s a precious commodity in California.



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