The U.S. transportation sector is responsible for nearly 40 percent of the nation’s fossil-fuel related carbon emissions. Decreasing the amount of CO2 we emit into the atmosphere is important if we want to reduce our transportation footprint and reverse climate change. To do your part, keep these green travel tips in mind the next time you jet off on an adventure.
Before You Go
- Pack light—the heavier your bags are, the more fuel cars, trains and planes will have to use to transport them, which creates more greenhouse gases.
- Bring a reusable water bottle and shopping bag—both these items will help cut down on wasteful packaging like plastic bags and water bottles.
- Pull the plug on electronics—turning off your electronics helps you save money on your electric bill and cuts down on energy usage. Additionally, unplugging electronics stops them from leaching power when they are not on. Similarly, lowering your thermostat will help you save money and lower your energy use.
- Suspend newspaper delivery—this is a simple way to save trees.
How You Go
Choosing your mode of transportation is the trickiest part of planning. Usually, the greenest method of transportation depends on how far you may be going. Buses, trains, hybrid cars and coach seats on narrow jet planes emit the smallest carbon footprint at less than ½ pound of CO2 per mile. Regular cars, coach, and regional jets belong to the medium carbon footprint category. The worst carbon emitters are SUVs and first class jets, which produce more than one pound of CO2 per mile. So, when you’re choosing your mode of transportation, consider the following:
- Buses—a bus is usually the most eco-friendly means of travel. However, it is a time sacrifice, and the bus must be full for the benefits to pay off.
- For short trips—take the train or bus. This emits three times less gas than air travel.
- Renting a car—choose the smallest vehicle they have, or rent a hybrid if one is available.
- Traveling via plane—find the most direct route possible, as take offs and landings consume large amounts of fuel, creating more greenhouse gases.
Once You’re There
- Choose a Green Hotel—is the hotel locally owned and operated and/or staffed by local employees? Do they recycle? How does the hotel work to reduce their energy consumption?
- At the hotel—keep showers short, turn out the lights and lower heat/air when you leave the room. Re-use sheets and towels instead of having them washed.
- Use public transportation—this will cut down on carbon emissions.
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