Ecotourism: Travel light

The “La Oleta,” or “little wave,” bungalow in Rincon, Puerto Rico, is outfitted with solar panels to heat its water.

The ad: Studio apartment with kitchen in sunny surfers’ mecca Rincon, west coast of Puerto Rico. $55 a night.

And then the catch: Unit has solar-powered shower. And no paper down the toilet.

I’ll admit, I grimaced. The word “ecotourism” at first conjured up images of discomfort and sacrifice. But for $55 a night, I’ll put up with a lot.

Solar-water heaters are actually quite common in that part of Puerto Rico, because of a lack of municipal gas lines, said Jim Westfall, who rents out the apartment, “La Oleta.” That’s Spanish for “little wave.”

So how well did that shower work? No, the water never got truly hot like I’m used to back in New York. But in 85 degrees and sunshine, who’s complaining?

And being able to vacation while also making a small step to reduce my carbon footprint is even better.

Wanderlust magazine published a list of the world’s top travel sites that are slowly being degraded.

In Tulum, Mexico, theme parks and massive corporate hotels are pushing out the traditional Mayan community. Stonehenge in the U.K. is ringed by noisy highways. People travel to Machu Picchu to see the Inca site, not the piles of trash left by other tourists. By seeing the world, we often inadvertently destroy it.

In Rincon, Westfall is looking into ways to harness the sun and wind more constructively. He is also exploring how to reuse the “gray water” — wastewater — from sinks and showers.

“Puerto Rico, especially because it is an island, has limited natural resources,” he said. “Using renewable resources such as wind and solar will help preserve its natural environment.”

Travel tips

Want to vacation with minimal impact? Here are some easy tips that can go a long way:

» Try to stay in small, bungalow-type hotels and resorts, which use less electricity and water than large hotels.
» Never buy products made from endangered animals, like tortoise shell or ivory.
» Eat at independently owned restaurants that use fresh, local ingredients that aren’t flown in from elsewhere.
» Some eco-resorts don’t have electricity: Fall asleep early and wake up with the sun.
» The same as you would at home, turn off lights and air conditioning when you leave a room. Just because somebody else is footing the bill doesn’t mean you should be wasteful.
» Try to walk places instead of taking your rental car. You’ll see more local sights, too.

Follow Carly Baldwin on Twitter at @CarlyatMetro.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Tallest residential building planned for lower Manhattan

A residential tower planned for lower Manhattan will soar 1,356 feet in the air -- just 12 feet shy of 1 World Trade Center. When…

Local

Bronx man commits suicide by decapitation

A Bronx man committed suicide Monday morning in the Hunts Point area of the Bronx by decapitating himself. According to the NYPD, the 51-year-old man…

Local

Top cops enroll in Twitter course at John…

NYPD officers are reportedly getting a lesson on the best way to use 140 characters or less. The New York Post reported Tuesday top officers…

Local

Islamic state issues video of beheading of U.S.…

The Islamic State militant group released a video purporting to show the beheading of U.S. hostage Steven Sotloff, the SITE monitoring service reported on Tuesday.

Arts

Pop culture and prostitutes: New Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit at…

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec documented the cult of celebrity and the rise of pop entertainment in his prints, posters and lithographs — now on display at MoMA.

Arts

PHOTO: Extreme artist Eskil Ronningsbakken balances unicycle on…

Extreme artist’ Eskil Ronningsbakken balances on the edge of a cliff face at 4,600 feet – on a unicycle. The Norwegian travels across the globe, balancing over vertiginous ravines, tall…

Music

Hear two previously unreleased Adele songs

Missing some Adele in your life? Two previously unreleased songs from the singer have appeared online.

Music

Lincoln Center just made 'Lord of the Rings'…

Middle Earth already has sweeping vistas, a hero's journey and technology-revolutionizing special effects. But next April, the Lincoln Center will add another dimension to Peter Jackson's…

Sports

Belinda Bencic leads crop of young stars serving…

Belinda Bencic, a 17-year-old Swiss Miss, beat two Top-10 players before suffering a disappointing loss Tuesday in the quarterfinals.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels take control, Tigers and…

MLB Power Rankings: Angels take control, Tigers and Giants climb

Sports

Novak Djokovic feeds off US Open crowd to…

Novak Djokovic isn't a native New Yorker, but he sure knows how to use the U.S. Open crowd to his advantage.

NFL

Odell Beckham still 'weeks away,' Tom Coughlin angry…

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has fought a losing battle against the media all preseason over the status of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Parenting

In defense of making a mess during playtime

"Recipes for Play" authors Rachel Sumner and Ruth Mitchener think playtime should involve the five senses and making a mess is part of the fun.

Wellbeing

Jason Hope helps push anti-aging efforts forward

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article When it comes to age-related illness, the direction of modern medicine seems more reactive than proactive. In…

Wellbeing

Today's Doomsday preppers: a closer look at survivalist…

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article. The term “Doomsday prepper” is often associated with the paranoid, anti-government stereotype of the 1990s. The truth…

Education

These college students think breakfast is the most…

  It should be no surprise that the city that never sleeps is also home to the most students who like to order food in…