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10 Ways to Make this Bend Trip Your Most Sustainable

Voluntourism in Bend, Oregon

Tourists are smart creatures. They’re jazzed about leaving places better than they found them, and they’ve used this passion to drive awesome developments in eco-friendly travel and sustainable tourism.

 Hooray for you if you’ve helped lead the charge, but even if you haven’t, there are a million ways to make your Bend vacation a bit gentler on the environment. Here are ten of them.


Leave no trace

You’re probably familiar with Leave No Trace principles, which urge outdoor lovers to respect wildlife and be kind to the environment. One of the most vital practices is the proper disposal of trash. That not only means packing out your own soda cans and string cheese wrappers, but organic materials like orange peels and banana skins (go here to learn why it’s not cool to leave those behind).

Picking up trash at Suttle Lake

Blogger Tawna’s kiddo, Violet, picks up trash at Suttle Lake.

Want to take it to the next level? Carry a small garbage bag when you hike and scoop up gum wrappers and cans that don’t belong to you. Congratulations! You’ve left Bend better than you found it.


Don’t invent trails or parking spots

Trail erosion is a serious problem, and it gets worse each time someone wanders off established trails to forge their own path through the forest. Ditto that for creating a parking spot where there isn’t one and skooching your big SUV onto the fragile forest floor.


Hiking on a trail in Bend, Oregon

Staying on marked trails is important to combat trail erosion.

Look, I get it. It’s frustrating to have your heart set on a hike and to show up and find the lot full.


But the great thing about Central Oregon is that there’s always another awesome hike a couple miles down the road. Set out with a backup plan and a couple alternate hikes in case your first pick doesn’t work out. Bonus: You’ll have more great spots to explore on your next visit!


Doo your doody

Traveling with a dog? You know what to doo-doo. Stuff your pockets with baggies so you can do your thing when Fido hunches up and does his thing. Most Bend parks have poop bag dispensers, but it’s smart to carry extras just in case. Bonus: You’ll make a new friend each time you encounter a panicked looking dog owner patting her pockets and wearing that “oh, crap, I forgot bags” expression we’ve all worn a time or two.


Sadly, there’s no magical poop fairy to remove full doody bags from along the trail. Don’t forget to carry yours to the trash can, even if it’s miles away.


Drink responsibly

I’m not talking about designated drivers or Ubering around the Bend Ale Trail (though that’s important, too). I’m talking about the tendency to stuff the trunk with those disposable plastic water bottles from Costco, or to reach for cardboard coffee cups when traveling.

Reusable drink containers in Bend, Oregon

Having a Hydro Flask is a good way to avoid leaving waste on the trails.

Stop the madness! Reusable coffee mugs and water bottles are inexpensive and easy to find. Swing by the Bend Visitor Center to browse our awesome selection of Hydro Flask products. Then carry yours everywhere so you’re all set to hydrate responsibly.


Want to go one step further? Wrap some thrift store silverware in cloth napkins and keep them in your glove box for on-the-go eating. No more need for plastic forks and paper napkins.


Get out and volunteer

With the booming interest in sustainable travel comes another trend that’s equally exciting—voluntourism. It’s the idea of lacing a little volunteer work into your vacation to leave a special place just a little bit better.


Voluntourism gigs in Bend range from cave cleanups to trail maintenance to pulling trash from the river. For ideas, check out the voluntourism section of our Visit Like a Local pages.

Voluntourism in Bend, Oregon

Trail maintenance is one way to practice voluntourism in Bend.


Take the Bend Pledge

While you’re not making your commitment to sustainability for selfish purposes, it’s nice to have the potential for a reward. That’s what you get when you take The Bend Pledge.  It’s a small way of putting it in writing that you promise to be a good steward of Bend’s natural resources and abide by a code of conduct. Every six months, we draw a name from among the pledge takers to win a Bend vacation that includes lodging, meals, and activities—all for just doing the right thing. Score!


Take it to the next level

You know those well-marked trails you love exploring around Bend? Keeping our wild places in tip-top shape is a task that falls to nonprofit land managers like Deschutes Trails Coalition, and there’s an easy way to lend a hand.

Pledge for the Wild, Bend, OR

Signs explaining Pledge for the Wild are popping up all over Bend, including this one in the Bend Visitor Center.

To help ensure Bend’s wild places are protected and accessible for generations to come, text 44321 and type WILD4BEND to start the process of donating to the cause. Many travelers opt to tally their time spent recreating in Bend and donate a dollar for each hour, but you can give as much or as little as you like. To learn more, check out Pledge for the Wild.


Look for green lodging

Lots of lodging spots in Bend tout eco-friendly features if you know where to look. Luxury boutique Oxford Hotel runs 100% on renewable energy, and boasts features ranging from in-room recycling to eco-conscious bedding to compact fluorescent bulbs throughout the space. You can learn more here.


You can also look for little ways to make eco-friendly lodging choices, like choosing a vacation home from Bluebird Day Vacation Rentals, which proudly uses only environmentally-friendly cleaning products.


Even making a choice to reuse your hotel towels instead of requesting new ones each day will have a positive impact on water use. The little things add up.


Cut back on fossil fuel use

While I’ve known people who’ve pedaled their way from Portland and Salem to Bend, that’s not realistic for most visitors. It’s a given you’ll burn some fossil fuels getting to Bend by car or plane, so why not make earth-friendly choices once you’re here?

Biking in Bend, Oregon

Biking around Bend is one way to cut back on fossil fuel consumption.

Join a group adventure with Wanderlust Tours to take advantage of the ultimate in carpooling (not to mention a great cave tour or snowshoe adventure led by a knowledgeable naturalist guide).


Bring your bike or rent one so you can cruise around town via pedal power. Check out the shuttle options with Ride Bend or scope out bus routes through Cascades East Transit.


Keep it simple by using your own two feet to walk from brewery to brewery along the Bend Ale Trail. The possibilities are endless!



Get thrifty

There are a million ways to reduce and reuse when you’re in Bend. The city boasts a bounty of amazing thrift stores and consignment shops where you can snag secondhand clothing and accessories.


You’ll even find a few spots like GearFix and Gear Peddler devoted to gently-used sports gear like bikes, skis, and more. It’s a chance to save money and give new life to goods that could otherwise wind up in landfills.

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