By Donnie R. Dann
Wanderlust. I’ve had the “affliction” all my life. But I’ve come to realize that travel can significantly contribute to ourever-increasing greenhouse gas emissions and the resultant warming of our atmosphere. And I’m not alone in my love of going places. The total U. S. domestic and foreign travel expenses in 2015 were close to one trillion dollars, an increase of over $200 billion since 2010.
So how can we see our loved ones who live elsewhere, conduct business, or enjoy a destination vacation, and simultaneously minimize our impact on the environment?
In many cases practicalities will dictate where and how you travel, but here are some suggestions (wherever possible) for lowering your carbon footprint when leaving home:
- Take less “stuff.” The lighter your bags, the less fuel is needed to transport them. Bonus: it will be easier on you to carry them.
- Distance matters. Domestic trips closer to home result in lower carbon emissions than foreign travel.
- Try a “green” hotel. There are many hotels, inns, and bed and breakfasts, ranging from low-priced to luxury and in many different cities, that implement sustainable practices. Here are just a few websites where you can find hostelries that minimize solid waste, urge patrons to avoid single-use towels and sheets, adopt good recycling practices like guest room recycling bins, and more:
- When you’re in a new location, your best mode of transportation is often your feet. Walking is better than driving for touring and for the environment. If walking is impracticable, consider biking, taking the bus, riding the train, or using a shared ride service or cab, rather than renting a car.
- For those inevitable flights, some airline websites have a calculator that enable you to estimate the carbon footprint for your journey. With this information, you can purchase “carbon offsets” to negate the CO2 you will generate in flight. In addition, one bit of good news that will lessen the impact of pollution from jet travel is the recent 190-nation accord that will result in far less jet plane emissions by 2021.
We’re all on the go, but for the conscientious traveler, traveling can be gentler to Mother Earth and no less a great travel experience.
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