“Over the river and through the woods …”
Chances are, you’ll be traveling this holiday season, whether it’s a road trip to Grandma’s house or a cross-country flight to join relatives around the table for a seasonal feast. Though we all know that travel contributes to a warming climate, none of us is likely to call off the family gathering as a means of reducing C02 emissions.
In light of that, consider how you can make your impact on the earth lighter as you prepare for your upcoming departure. A few simple actions can make a big difference, if enough people opt to do them. And, you’ll find that some of these choices save on stress, too, which is always a bonus during the hectic holiday travel season.
1. Driving? Swing by your local quick-lube outlet to be sure your oil is fresh, your air filter is clean and your tires are properly inflated, for optimal gas mileage. You can save several miles per gallon just by attending to these small details that help your car run more efficiently.
2. Choose the bus or train over flying, if you can, especially if you’re traveling with a family. Air travel is by far the biggest contributor to C02 emissions on the planet. Every flight we can replace with another mode of transport can make a substantial impact in reducing overall carbon output. Plus, it’s more relaxing to sit back and watch the scenery roll by as you leave the driving to someone else. Check out a website like www.gotobus.com to see how many convenient and comfortable bus options are out there. However, if you’re traveling solo on a journey of more than 500 miles, your individual CO2 output may be less overall if you opt for a non-stop coach flight, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists’ “Getting There Greener” guide.
3. Headed to the airport? Take a bus or van shuttle. Not only will you save an extra vehicle trip, you’ll avoid the hassle and expense of airport parking, and you’ll be dropped off right at the terminal.
4. Take only a carry-on bag. Even though it’s become a pain to cram so many roller bags into the overhead bins now that airlines are charging to check luggage, it saves on time at the airport and eliminates the chance your bag will be lost, plus smaller bags reduce the load an airplane is carrying – which makes a significant difference in how much jet fuel is used and how much CO2 is released. To be sure you get a space in the bin without a fight in the aisle, get to the gate early so you’ll be at the front of the line when your boarding number is called.
5. Offset the carbon emissions of your holiday travel. Web sites like TerraPass and Carbonfund.org offer a quick and convenient way to counterbalance the CO2 output of your travels for a relatively small cost.
While none of these actions involves great sacrifice, cumulatively they make a difference. Ditto for other eco-conscious holiday-season practices, too, like creative gift-wrapping using reusable or recyclable materials, and creating fabulous meals that are as ethical as they are festive. Check out this great slate of ideas for a more natural, “Pilgrim-style” Thanksgiving dinner, and consider holiday menus that are less meat-heavy but no less flavorful.
Here’s to mindful, joyful celebrating!