Remember to think of Virginia when you think of Earth Day.
State tourism officials proudly note that their jurisdiction was the birthplace of the now global event, which can be traced to the Virginia resort of Airlie.
“Earth Day as you know it today all started with an announcement at Airlie,” says Brigitte Belanger-Warner of the Virginia Tourism Corporation.”
She continued: “The year was 1969 and Senator Gaylord Nelson shared his idea for what is now the world’s largest environmental movement with a group of medical and law students participating in a conference here. Nelson’s forward-thinking concept gathered steam quickly and the very first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970 when 20 million Americans took action to rally for a healthy, sustainable environment in demonstrations that took place coast-to-coast — crossing political divides and bringing people together from all walks of life. By year’s end, the U.S. government created the Environmental Protection Agency.”
Belanger-Warner notes her state offers vacation opportunities that are kind to Mother Earth.
“The state of Virginia offers great options for sustainable travel,” she continues, noting Virginia has 41 state parks. “In 2007, Virginia Tourism Corporation, the Virginia DEQ, and the Virginia Restaurant Lodging & Travel Association Virginia Green Travel partnered to create Virginia Green Travel, the state’s voluntary partnership program to encourage green practices in tourism.”
And she pointed out: “Since then, more than 1,900 tourism operations have self-certified their environmental practices and have made voluntary commitments to reduce their impacts on the environment. In 2021, Virginia State Parks joined the Virginia Green Travel Partnership, making a clear statement as to the importance of sustainable travel options in our destination. You can reduce your own environmental footprint simply by supporting certified Virginia Green partners. Virginia Green participants have made voluntary commitments to reduce their impacts on the environment. You can reduce your own environmental footprint simply by supporting certified Virginia Green partners — just look for the Virginia Green logo!”
Virginia Green has seven tenets supporting low-impact travel:
1. Plan Ahead & Prepare
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
3. Dispose of Waste Properly
4. Leave What You Find
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
6. Respect Wildlife
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
“Start planning your Virginia Green vacation below and explore green-certified hotels, restaurants, tastings rooms, activities, and festivals and events all across the state. — just look for the Virginia Green logo and visit https://www.virginia.org/green-travel/ for more information,” Belanger-Warner adds.
Airlie itself continues to practice what was preached decades ago, utilizing sustainable practices in its operations and featuring a unique “LOVEworks” reminder made from 95% recycled materials.