San Luis Obispo (SLO), California is a city on the Central Coast of California with about 50,000 people. The city’s goal is to become carbon neutral by 2035, encourages alternative means of transportation and is eliminating single-use plastics. What caught my eye this past week is SLO’s announcement that it is the first U.S. destination to launch an urban reforestation sustainability initiative funded by local hotels. Through the new Keys for Trees program, part of the City’s Climate Action Plan, the San Luis Obispo Tourism Business Improvement District will dedicate 1 percent of annual revenue to planting 10,000 trees throughout the community by 2035. The program is part of a partnership with the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo (EcoSLO), a nonprofit dedicated to protecting SLO’s natural assets. It is great to see competing hotels working together for a common purpose and it is the type of program that could easily be repeated around the world.
The program helps the planet and gives employees, residents, and guests something to be excited and proud about. It may not appeal to everyone, but most travelers will like it.
In a press release about the initiative, Molly Cano, Tourism Manager at the City of SLO, said, “Many travelers seek ‘green’ hotels, and this new initiative allows everyone staying in San Luis Obispo to be part of SLO’s climate solutions. 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.”
Many Benefits to Tree Planting
Urban tree planting cleans the air we breathe, filters the water we drink, and provides habitat to over 80 percent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. Once planted, the 10,000 trees will offset more than 40 cars’ worth of carbon produced for one year. “We know that’s just the start,” said Cano, “but the idea is to help travelers confront their practices head-on, and planting trees is one visible action that can lead to countless others.”
This isn’t SLO’s first sustainability initiative. In 1990, SLO was the first city worldwide to ban smoking in public buildings, bars, and restaurants. You won’t find drive-thrus in SLO and the independent Palm Theatre was America’s first solar-powered movie theater.
SLO residents consistently label climate action as a top concern. Other practices already activated include an innovative anaerobic compost facility (the first of its kind in the country), and sustainable winemaking practices, all in addition to planting 10,000 trees.
For more information on SLO’s sustainability efforts, visit https://visitslo.com/sustainable-slo/.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.
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