How to reduce your environmental impact while visiting the South Strand

Vacations are often the time when you throw caution to the wind and do things you wouldn’t do in your ordinary, day-to-day life. You know, YOLO (You Only Live Once)!

Indulge in that decadent dinner.

Sleep until noon.

Start your day with a bloody Mary.

Set the HVAC in your ocean-front accommodations to full blast and leave the balcony screen doors wide open because hey, it’s not your power bill now is it?

But think about it this way: what if everyone that visited the South Strand year after year, including those that stay at Garden City Realty’s plethora of vacation rental properties, treated it like an 18th Century French monarch on a bender, without regard for their impact on the environment and energy consumption, and with no effort toward keeping the beach beautiful?

Fortunately, we know that the majority of our guests are conscientious travelers and are interested in the sustainability of the South Strand’s bountiful natural beauty so that future generations can enjoy its wonders too.

While you may be aware of and practice things like recycling, or driving a hybrid vehicle,  did you know that even the fibers of your swimsuit can have an environmental impact?

That’s right, sustainable swimwear is a thing. And so are biodegradable sunglasses.

Beyond eco-friendly beach fashion choices, there are plenty of small, but impactful, things travelers can do while visiting the South Strand that will reduce their carbon footprint and help sustain our stunning slice of the South Carolina coast.

To that end, we’ve compiled the following tips for plotting a greener trip the next time you book a Garden City Realty vacation rental property, so you and your family can reduce your environmental impact while coming and going.

GETTING HERE

The South Strand is by and large a drive-to market, and no offense to the airline industry and our friends at Myrtle Beach International Airport, but that’s a good thing when it comes to the environment. While quick and efficient, commercial aircraft also raise many environmental concerns, from carbon dioxide emissions to noise pollution. If you do fly, opt for non-stop flights to the beach.

While more environmentally-friendly than air travel, it’s kind of hard to get here by train (the closest Amtrak station is in Florence), and we know you can always arrive at a leisurely pace by personal boat. But the preferred method of travel for upwardly mobile Americans – the automobile – is going to be your best environmental bet on arriving to the South Strand, too, especially if you have an EV (electric vehicle) or hybrid. There are 318 public charging stations in South Carolina, according to libertyplugins.com, with 24 of them being in Myrtle Beach, five in Conway, one in Murrells Inlet, two in Pawleys Island and one in Georgetown. 

Tour buses are popular with older crowds and you can always get to Myrtle Beach via Greyhound. Bus travel is significantly more eco-friendly than traveling by plane or automobile, because buses use less fuel and also emit lower amounts of carbon dioxide, according to wanderu.com.

EAT LOCAL

We know you’re going to like this next one because who doesn’t enjoy chowing down on fresh vittles and getting a taste of the local cuisine?

Eating farm-fresh and ocean-fresh meals at Surfside Beach, Garden City Beach, Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island restaurants when you visit the South Strand not only pleases your tastebuds but makes Mother Nature happy too.

“If it’s not already one of your trip’s main drawcards, try to eat as much local food as you can,” reads an excerpt from carbon-offset website Terrapass. “Consuming foods from local growers and producers is an effective way to reduce the shipping and transport emissions of your meals – not to mention supporting the local community.”

It’s a win-win-win: for your palate, the environment and the South Strand economy.

There’s more you can do to shrink your environmental impact while dining out. For instance, ask your server not to bring straws to your table because this will reduce the restaurant’s waste as straws are single-use products. If you simply cannot consume beverages without a straw, bring your own eco-friendly version. Bamboo, paper, steel, glass and silicone straws are all options for a more sustainable sipping experience. Shop the alternatives here: https://www.amazon.com/eco-friendly-straws/s?k=eco+friendly+straws

Try skipping meat at one or more meals and go with a vegetarian entree and sides instead. Eating less meat can be one of the easiest ways to reduce your environmental impact while traveling because it’s estimated that 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from the management of livestock.

Also, try eating at a restaurant close to your Garden City Realty vacation rental so that you can walk or bike there and back  – getting exercise while also lessening your carbon footprint.

HOOFING & CARTING  IT

Speaking of biking and walking, the more you can use these modes of transportation and not rely on your car while you’re visiting the South Strand, the lower your overall environmental impact will be.

Who knew that one of Garden City Beach’s favorite pastimes – cruising from spot to spot in a golf cart – is actually eco-friendly? If the carts are electric, that is. But even the most fuel-efficient gas-powered golf cart burns less fossil fuel than the typical automobile. Renting a golf cart is easy and abundant with several outlets available on the South Strand. Many Garden City Realty vacation rentals are also equipped with outdoor power outlets so that you can charge your cart and be ready to zip to the beach, to the beachwear store or down to the Garden City Pier, for instance.

Affordable bicycle rentals are also available in the Garden City Beach area if you’re not bringing your own two-wheelers with you.

REUSE & RECYCLE

While you certainly don’t want to overpack for your trip to the South Strand, bringing a few reusable items such as water bottles, steel coffee cups like the popular Yeti, cloth or woven shopping bags, and the aforementioned drinking straws will help you keep stuff out of the local waste stream. 

Your Garden City Realty vacation rental may or may not have on-site recycling, but if it doesn’t, plan ahead: bring some collapsed cardboard boxes with you. Construct and label your boxes and use them as your temporary recycling bins. Separate your recyclables – aluminum, glass, plastic and cardboard – from your household garbage. When your temporary bins get full, or on your way out of town, stop by the easy and convenient self-serve Horry County Solid Waste Authority Recycling Center on McDowell Shortcut Road in Murrells Inlet to dump them. Be forewarned that it is closed on Tuesdays.

Remember to always clean up your mess if you bring single-use items for a day on the beach, like your food wrappers and beverage cans and bottles, and make sure your refuse goes into the waste and recycle bins that are available at most public beach access entry/exit points.

Smokers – we’re especially talking to you! Don’t treat the beach as your ashtray and leave butts in the sand. They are not biodegradable and can harm wildlife, from fish to birds and sea turtles.

CONSERVATION STATE OF MIND

You’ve made the commitment to reduce your carbon footprint when visiting the South Strand, and it should include being mindful of the resources and energy you are using during your stay. 

Choose some activities while you’re visiting that don’t rely on energy consumption, like spending a day on the beach, doing some pier fishing during daylight hours, or kite-flying or shell-collecting along the surf. If you hit one of the area’s great golf courses, call ahead and make sure your golf carts are electric-powered.

While relaxing at your home-away-from-home, conserve water by taking short showers, don’t keep the water running while you brush your teeth, don’t run the dishwasher and washing machine in your accommodations excessively, and don’t air condition the great outdoors (like in our made-up scenario at the beginning of this post). In essence, be mindful of your energy consumption and act like you are the one paying the bills, like you would at home. 

Because ultimately, we all pay the price. Calculate your carbon footprint here: https://sustainabletravel.org/our-work/carbon-offsets/calculate-footprint/

Written by Kent Kimes for Garden City Realty

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