News & Views: Our Green Vacation

Last week my husband, a couple of our closest friends, their two young children and myself went on vacation to Martha’s Vineyard. We have taken this trip every year for quite a few years now and we really love the relaxation, getting to spend an entire week living in a comfy, furnished house, and going to the beach almost every day.

This year especially, as my interest in all things Green and how I can be even more environmentally conscious has greatly increased, I was concerned with how we could make our week long journey as planet happy as possible while still having fun. What I found out is it was a whole lot easier than I thought it would be.

We take a ferry over and with two cars we pack as efficiently as possible. We bring a myriad of items that will keep us from shopping for extraneous things while there (Brita pitcher, band aids, some groceries). Before heading out, an oil change and air in the tires makes the gas mileage to get to the boat, and also around on island, that much more efficient.

If I didn’t already have a great beach bag, this one from reiter8 would surely have been a perfect addition to the trip. Made from repurposed boat sails, what could be beachier? It is a great example of how to repurpose with style!

The beach is one of my very favorite places on the planet. Okay, okay, I admit it, the beach is my very favorite spot and I like to see it clean and full of people, not plastic! We bring a small trash bag with us that we reuse each day and when we take a nice leisurely walk on the beach, my husband and I pick up as much trash as we come across, put it in the bag and throw out or recycle as appropriate when we get back to the cottage.

Recycling was everywhere on island, including a special can created just for Mytoi, one of the many properties owned and maintained by The Trustees of Reservations. The Trustees manage a little over 100 properties in Massachusetts and we take full advantage of our membership by visiting as many as we can each year! If we had missed that can it would have been no big deal, the island has regular recycling pick up every week.

That of course means we recycle at the cottage as well and we also do the bulk of our grocery shopping from the many local farm stands and small grocery stores on the island. We try to grill to keep the use of electricity (and admittedly heat!) down in the house and those locally grown veggies sure are yummy on a skewer!

Plus the wafting smell from the grill is much better than the musty “closed up beach cottage” odor that is present when we first arrive. Perhaps if they came across these odor absorber pillows from zJayne it would help eliminate some of the yucky factor. Not to mention the skull and crossbones fit in nicely with the rampant pirate theme on the island!

Sometimes we like to take a trip outside of the beach and this year we ended up doing a day trip with a stop in Menemsha, a really cute little port town in the southwest corner of the island. I really needed to use the bathroom so we swung by the bathhouse and I was so very encouraged to see they are embracing the energy that nature provides by harnessing solar to heat the water used in this location.

Speaking of water, we always use filtered tap water in our reusable bottles during the week and there are sometimes even spots to fill up directly from the fresh water aquifer that runs underneath the island. An air conditioner is never running, the island has a lovely breeze that whistles through the open windows every night.

We enjoyed our vacation immensely, but didn’t have to take a vacation from responsibly living our lives to do it! With a little creative planning and a keen eye on how we lived during the week away, we kept our planetary impact low and enjoyed the many benefits of a Green week at the beach!

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About Karen Lee

As a former Captain of Eco Etsy and one of the current leaders for the team, I am really excited to be hanging out with like minded team members to share ideas on how we can leave the least amount of carbon footprint.

I sell eco-handmade and vintage goodies in my Etsy shop and consult small business owners on Karen Lee Consulting where popular Etsy Starter Kit is sold. And as a retired Chiropractor, I share natural health news and green tips on Check out my past posts on Eco Etsy!


  1. Your vacation sounds lovely. We spent a very rainy week on MV this spring. The beaches are stunning even in the rain. Thanks for your green vacation tips and for highlighting my upcycled sail tote. I’ll have to remember those odor absorbing pillow next time we rent a cottage – the perfect remedy for that ‘stuffy house’ smell!

    • Ooh Katherine which beaches did you get to? We are Long Point fans and spend most of our time there (southern coast) but maybe we’ll mix it up one of these years haha. The place is truly a unique spot. I love your bags, really I’ve always admired them and was excited to be able to feature you this week! Thanks :-)

      • We stayed in Edgartown and went to Katama Beach. Amazing to be there in the off season when we had the beach all to ourselves. A very special place, indeed!

  2. Congrats on taking care of the planet while rejuvenating yourselves! I love the bag you’ve highlighted here as well as the pillows.
    Peace, Judi

  3. Great job at keeping green!