THE DESIRE TO travel more sustainably is on the rise and the majority (87 percent) of travelers want to be more sustainable, according to recent data from Booking.com’s recent Sustainable Travel Report. Exploring new places in an eco-friendly way is tough to do, however, as everything from transportation to lodging to dining out leaves a footprint.

But San Luis Obispo, a city of 50,000 along California’s central coast, is out to change that — and the city is asking travelers for help. In November, the city launched a program dubbed “Keys for Trees,” a program funded by local hotels that aims to increase tree canopy and reduce emissions in the city through an urban reforestation program. 

“Many travelers seek ‘green’ hotels and this new initiative allows everyone staying in San Luis Obispo to be part of SLO’s climate solutions,” said Molly Cano, San Luis Obispo’s Tourism Manager in a press release. “There’s no extra step to take and we think visitors will enjoy knowing that just by booking an overnight stay, they are helping to preserve our community’s beauty.”

San Luis Obispo is working towards carbon neutrality by 2035 as part of the city’s Climate Action Plan. Using increased tree cover to pull carbon from the air is part of that plan. Because it’s funded by a tax on hotel stays, visitors to the area are in effect helping to green the city — a concept area officials hope will both boost tourism and help travelers feel better about the environmental impact of their travel. Guests can even volunteer to help plan the trees through Eco-SLO. 

The goal is to plant 10,000 trees, which will remove enough carbon from the air each year to offset the annual emissions of 40 cars. This effort joins other sustainability initiatives in San Luis Obispo, including a ban on drive-through restaurants. SLO is also home to the Palm Theatre, the first theater in the US run entirely on solar power. 

More climate wins this week

England announced in November it would require all new homes to include electric vehicle chargers, the country’s government announced in November. Concerns about charging remain a major barricade to the mass adoption of private electric vehicles. With the announcement, England became the first country to take such a step.

The European Union this week announced plans to remove five million tons of CO2 emissions from the atmosphere each year by 2030, Reuters reported. Using carbon-capture technology to pull emissions from the atmosphere is one way governments and businesses plan to reduce their carbon emissions. While the EU emits far more than five million tons of CO2 per year, this goal is one step in a long-term plan to remove far more.

We close this week with a look forward to the holidays (even for those who dread preparing for them). Matador made it easier than ever to shop green this holiday season with our rundown of sustainable gifts for the family. Happy shopping!