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red, white, and GREEN

red, white, and GREEN

by Roberto Jaimes

You're going on vacation, trying to free your mind of all worries. But, have you ever thought that maybe 10 years from now your favorite beach won't be the same due to pollution? Luckily, resorts throughout Mexico are doing their part to keep their surrounding areas relatively undisturbed, and there are some that also offer unique activities to guests looking to make a positive impact on the environment.

Dreams Cancun participates in Earth Hour by switching lights off for an hour in parts of the resort. Animal lovers will be glad to hear about the resort's Marine Sea Turtle Preserving Program, which involves everything from promoting the safe handling of marine turtles to removing beach chairs in order to make it easier for the turtles to nest and moving them to a nursery area during bad weather. If you're more of a hands-on kind of activist, you can join volunteers in one of the resort's beach cleanup programs.

Recycle and reuse is the core of Viva Wyndham Maya and Azteca's green programs. These resorts get the ball rolling by using uniforms made with recycled plastics, biodegradable laundry bags, recycled key cards, and an "EarthSmart" guest linen reuse program. To gain community involvement, the sister resorts lead cleanup efforts at Los Pinos public beach, engage local elementary school students in activities promoting environmental education, and encourage staff to donate time to help protect wildlife in a local park.

All five of the hotels within the Barcelo Maya Beach Resort system implement eco-friendly practices, including water reuse, recycling, using biodegradable materials, and requiring 75 percent of consumable materials to come from regional suppliers. But these resorts also allow guests to get involved by planting in order to reforest green areas, hand delivering turtle hatchlings back to the sea, or by learning about local flora and fauna through signs located throughout the complex. The kids' clubs also have areas designated for eco-learning, because it's never too early to start caring about Mother Nature.

Dreams Los Cabos owes its eco-friendly success to the practices it implements. This resort has its own Desalinization Plant, which allows it to have an independent water supply from the city and makes it easier to re-use ocean water. The resort is also a participant in the Active Water Conservation Program, uses energy-saving lamps, separates oils and delivers them to a company that reuses them, delivers used batteries to local recycling centers, and participates in Earth Hour by turning off all lights on the property for one hour.

Sandos Caracol Eco-Resort & Spa is committed to the environment, as you can tell by the name. The resort uses natural resources for energy and fuel and is also a member of Pack for a Purpose. Sandos Caracol also provides free biodegradable mosquito repellent throughout the resort, uses recycled paper for all printed material, and avoids the use of plastic water bottles. You can see the positive effects of these policies by going on a guided eco-tour of the Mayan jungle, which allows you to explore 16 natural cenotes, indigenous animals and exotic plants.

Recognized for its tourism projects involving environmental programs, Dreams Tulum is the perfect place to visit if you want to be immersed in nature. Start out with the Palm Tour, which will teach you about the different kinds of palms throughout the property and surrounding area. For a deeper dive, try the Bird and Flower Sightseeing Tour, where you will get to see the different flowers, local trees, and exotic birds that live in this area. Like other Dreams resorts, Dreams Tulum also offers the Plant-A-Tree Project and Turtle Protection Program.

The first resort in Cozumel to earn Green Globe Certification for sustainable management and operations, Iberostar Cozumel offers one of the most unique environmentally friendly programs in all of Mexico, the Cat Cafe Program. Through this program, the resort takes care of in-house cats and has them sterilized and vaccinated for safety. But more importantly, the cats can be adopted by guests.

Located on a protected sea turtle hatching ground, the eco-friendly practices at Zoetry Casa del Mar Los Cabos range from water and paper recycling and reuse processes to weekly beach cleanup campaigns. The resort also recycles kitchen oil in an attempt to help prevent the harmful effects of pollution. Zoetry Casa del Mar is also doing its part in helping educate the local community on eco-friendly practices.

Grand Palladium White Sand Resort & Spa has a water treatment plant with a reverse osmosis purification system, which guarantees that the tap water is of drinking quality. Not only that, but the resort also has an eco-friendly offsite waste management system which includes waste separation and recycling, which ensures that no waste water is pumped into the ocean. Grand Palladium White Sand also has a crocodile habitat with an exhibition for feeding, as well as eco-tours of the surrounding area.

Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita shows its commitment to being socially responsible through its recycling program, production of organic fertilizer, beach cleaning campaigns, and programs to protect native turtles and crabs. As a member of the World Heritage Alliance for Sustainable Tourism, the resort plans to soon create a green area which will serve as a space for nature walks as well as house a small organic farm where guests can learn about the resort's green growing principles.

So if you want to help a baby turtle back to the sea on your next vacation, or you simply just need to know that the resort where you'll be staying is making an effort to preserve their surroundings, then one of these resorts will surely fulfill your needs.