Book Review: Code Green


Code Green, by Kerry Lorimer

Reviewed by Kristin Van Tassel

Lonely Planet’s recently published Code Green, a guide to ecologically responsible world travel, is an important addition to their substantial collection of travel service literature. Compiled by Kerry Lorimer, Code Green features close to 100 destinations—spanning Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, Europe, and North, Central, and South America—that offer environmentally sustainable travel experiences. The one-page descriptions of each of these destinations (collected from independent travelers) include “Responsible Travel Credentials” for the locale—that is, explanations of how both hosts and visitors are respecting the health of specific ecological and human communities and, in many cases, actively working to restore habitats, ecological integrity, and community vigor.

In addition to these features (accompanied by vibrant photographs), Code Green offers general advice that applies to many places and modes of travel. For instance, readers are offered tips on how to tread lightly in fragile ecosystems, seek alternatives to fossil-fuel-reliant transportation, and distinguish genuine ecotourism from “greenwash” companies using the “eco” label to make a buck.

I was particularly impressed with Lorimer’s emphasis on the complex, holistic nature of “green” travel. Code Green makes it clear that the environment includes not just flora and fauna but also living human communities facing real social and economic challenges. For example, Lorimer confronts the ongoing dilemma of how to respond to begging, rightly placing the question within the larger issue of sustainability and responsibility. Many of the contributors to Code Green encourage travelers to eat local food, stay in locally-owned accommodations, and buy responsibly produced local products. Repeatedly, travelers are urged to use their dollars in ways that nurture communities. I recall, in particular, the feature encouraging travelers to take drumming lessons in Senegal—in doing so they would not only be choosing low-impact travel but also spending time with locals and supporting them in the maintenance of their traditional skills and lifestyles.

Code Green is an excellent guide that addresses the questions we all should be asking, regardless of whether we travel or not. What are the consequences of our choices and purchases? Who benefits and who loses? How might our actions change a place? In short, how should we live?


Kristin Van Tassel’s writing has appeared in World Hum, AlterNet, CounterPunch, and Transitions Abroad, where this review originally appeared. A member of the Prairie Writers Circle, she teaches English and American Literature at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas.

Recent guest book reviews include Sara Levine’s review of In the Sierra Madre, and Melanie Mock’s review of Women Who Run.

Posted by | Comments Off on Book Review: Code Green  | December 13, 2006
Category: Travel Writing

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