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Amtrak trains, restaurant waste bins help travelers go green

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Restaurants and travel companies are making recycling and going green much easier than previous years.

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Railroad systems are already a more environmentally friendly way to help lots of people travel at one time. According to Amtrak’s site, the railroad system welcomed its largest amount of passengers -- over 31.2 million -- between October 2011 and September 2012.

Amtrak also boasts that they’re 17 percent more energy efficient than commercial airlines and automobiles.

And with that comes the option of recycle bins inside of the trains. Travelers can go from dining cars to the resting areas to sleeper cars, and in almost every car they’re able to conveniently sort bottles, paper, newspapers, paper drinking cups and trash into nearby bins.

Going green is gaining in popularity in restaurants, too. The days are numbered for restaurants that only have one trash can with a tray rack above it.

For example, in Washington D.C.’s Chop’T, the bins are sorted so patrons can properly discard salad bowls, bottles, utensils, trash, etc., into separate containers.

For green travelers who want to take their goals a step further, here are a few other ideas to help the planet while enjoying a trip:

  • If ordering room service or takeout, skip all the extra utensils and wasted restaurant condiments. They’ll end up in the trash if not used. Or, take any unused condiments downstairs to the hotel’s public cafeteria. May as well give other guests the option of using what other travelers don’t want.
  • Tell hotel maintenance not to wash towels until checkout instead of daily washes. (Make sure to hang the towels on racks so maintenance knows which ones to leave. Outside of this being good manners, this also eliminates the wet towel smell.)
  • Find out whether hotel maintenance cleans the sheets and comforters each day or after checkout. Opt for checkout.
  • Take advantage of natural sunlight when in hotel rooms instead of turning on all of the desk lamps and overhead lights.
  • Utilize souvenir mugs and cups in hotels. The staff usually equips each coffee table with Styrofoam or plastic cups wrapped in plastic, but if travelers are already carrying around takeout drinking containers or purchased their own, may as well use them.
  • Request a refrigerator and microwave for duplicate night stays. Sure, the free continental breakfast may be better than leftover dinner, but for travelers who are staying in a location for multiple days, leftovers may be just as delicious and reduce the amount of trash than ordering out every night. This is also a successful way to save more money for other types of shopping and local events -- unless you’re a foodie who lives for the restaurant stops.

This entry was originally written by Shamontiel on May 13 for a recycling company and is republished with her permission on Examiner.

Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all of her latest Chicago finance, employment and savings tips, or subscribe to her Chicago Personal Finance channel at the top of this page.

Follow Shamontiel's Green Living Pinterest board for more environmental news, reviews and tips.

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