Posts Tagged ‘Green Vacations’

How to Green Your Vacation

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

By Shawn Dell Joyce

How do you take a vacation and still protect the planet? Driving is the easiest vacation option, but it is getting more expensive and is one of the leading causes of climate change, generating almost 20 pounds of carbon emissions for every gallon of gas used.

Air travel seems more efficient, since more people travel for less time. However, a single transatlantic flight for a family of four creates more carbon emissions than that family will generate at home in a year.

Consumer Reports points out that a flight from New York to Los Angeles can produce from 1,924 to 6,732 pounds of carbon depending on the carbon calculator you use, and such variables as a plane’s fuel efficiency, passenger load, and air traffic. Air travel’s devastating effect on the environment is leading many conscientious passengers to resort to carbon offsets.

According to TerraPass, offsetting a flight from New York to LA would cost around $10. Your ten bucks is invested in clean energy and efficiency projects, such as wind farms, that result in verified reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The most fuel efficient way to travel long distances is by train, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). In a recent report, the DOE states that Amtrak – on an energy-consumed-per-passenger-mile basis – is 18 percent more energy efficient than commercial airlines.

Here are a few ways to save fuel costs and emissions this summer:

–Take a local vacation and explore the places you haven’t been in your own community. Set aside a week of local family fun, and schedule a different museum, farm, or small town for each day. Plan your stops according to the route of a train or bus to maximize your efficiency.

–Explore the rail trails in your area by bicycle. Most communities have rail trail projects connecting larger towns and cities. Explore your area by riding five-mile segments each day.

–Stay in a green hotel when possible. If you strive to be green at home, why not on vacation as well? Check and

–Travel with friends, and share the costs and carbon of each car trip. If you carpool and then share a vacation rental, including meals, you form tighter friendship bonds, use less gas, and eat out less.

–Stay with friends or camp. Hotels are very resource intensive, from air conditioning, cleaning, and disposal of trash. When you stay with friends, you lighten the environmental and economic costs.

–Consider a working vacation and volunteer at an organic farm in a place you wish to visit. Many countries also have programs for whole families to spend a vacation working as part of a relief effort. and

–Indulge in roadside attractions by visiting the places near home you secretly always wanted to see, but never got there. You know, the ones advertised on giant billboards on major highways such as caverns, zoos or some other unique place you really should get to at least once.

Shawn Dell Joyce is an award-winning columnist and founder of the Wallkill River School in Montgomery.