Taking the Sin out of Sin City: My Green Vacation in Las Vegas
There was a time when “Las Vegas” was synonymous with “wasteful”–and with just cause. Built in the desert and celebrating all things excess, the Vegas of yesteryear did not seem to care about sustainability in the slightest.
Well, I’m here to report that those days are officially coming to an end. This past weekend I took a green getaway to Sin City and was delightfully surprised by how easy it was, thanks to a growing number of innovations and eco-friendly hotels.
Want to remove some of the “sin” from your Sin City escape? Try the easy steps below.
Step 1: Fly with an Eco-Conscious Airline
We found an incredible flight deal on Virgin America to Las Vegas. Not only do I love their stylish amenities, Virgin America is working hard to reduce the carbon footprint of air travel. In addition to testing the world’s first flight using 25% biofuels, they have a comprehensive sustainability plan in place, which includes alternative-fuel research, weight reduction practices, and more.
Step 2: Stay at an Eco-Friendly Hotel
We chose to stay at the brand-new Vdara in the CityCenter. The CityCenter is one of the greenest complexes in the world, achieving six separate awards from LEED and employing the use of wood products from responsibly managed forests; high-efficiency water use; alternative fuel options for limousines; and an improvement of more than 30% in energy efficiency over standard building codes.
The Vdara posts their commitment to sustainability prominently on their website and the little touches are apparent throughout the resort, from a smoke-free environment to earth-friendly bath products.
Even better, it has achieved a whopping five keys from Green Key Global, one of Travelocity’s official green hotel certification programs. Five keys is the highest rating a property can achieve and Green Key has only awarded it to 1% of all properties certified by them.
Step 3: Pack a Reusable Water Bottle
I’m here to report that the tap water in Las Vegas is delicious. I packed my favorite metal thermos and avoided buying countless bottles of water on our trip. In addition to sparing the environment the burden of all those plastic bottles, I saved myself a small fortune. I even used the thermos on the plane, skipping the plastic cup of water.
Step 4: Walk or Take the Monorail
The traffic on the Strip is horrendous. You’re much better off walking to attractions or taking the handy monorail. Not only is taking a cab worse for the environment, it’s also expensive and slow. Even though it was 104 degrees, we walked almost everywhere. It’s the desert after all. The dry heat is pretty pleasant and not oppressive.
Step 5: Donate a Carbon Offset
Even with all these steps, your trip still has a carbon footprint. After you get home, consider making a donation to a trusted carbon offset company. Travelocity has partnered with The Conservation Fund. Each donation goes to help plant native trees in national wildlife refuges. The donation for a round-trip medium haul flight is just $2. Donate now!
My name: Alison Presley
Nickname: Presbo, because I'm good police.
How I earn my keep: I'm the manager of Travelocity's Travel for Good program. Visit Travel for Good to learn more about our green travel and voluntourism initiatives!
What kind of traveler am I: I'm an intrepid food explorer. I usually starve myself on the plane (not that that's too hard to do) so that the moment my toes touch foreign soil I'm ready to sample new and exciting cuisine. I like to dine everywhere from hole-in-the-wall local secrets to Michelin Guide gems. Cannelés, poi, boiled peanuts, oxtail soup, poutine--there's no stopping this adventurous palate.
Greatest travel lesson I've learned: It doesn't cost a lot of money to do good. Offsetting your carbon impact only adds a few bucks to your trip, green hotels are very affordable, and volunteering locally during your vacation is a great way to give back and learn about the culture.