It seems a bit surreal to be contemplating travel again, eco-friendly travel of course. Yet, here we are, on the year anniversary when we all were on the precipice of a year of the unknown. If you had told us a year ago, that our trip to Savannah would have been the last trip we would have taken for an entire year, we would have laughed, or cried, rocking back and forth in a corner.
It’s almost as if the travel gods knew what was coming, because those last few weeks, just prior to it all stopping, we had a whirlwind of travel… then…crickets. We’ve said it many times in several blogs over the past year, about how much travel was lost, and canceled, all due to covid, so we won’t get into it again, but what we will say now is that there seems to be some light at the end of this deep dark tunnel.
Eco-Friendly Travel Ahead
Yes, the vaccines are starting, plane e-credits are being reinstated, and hotels are being booked again… travel is once again on the calendar! With all of this non-travel time on our hands, we have been doing much research on the ways that we can become better travelers, and more green, eco-friendly globetrotters. If we are mindful of the earth and our carbon footprint at home, why are we not extending that mindfulness into our time away from home? Well, we are going to share some of the ways that we have found to be better eco-minded voyagers, post-covid.
Planes, Trains, or Automobiles?
First, we did some research into what modality of travel is best for the environment. We know that all forms play a significant role in carbon emissions, but if you are going to, say, travel a few states away, and you have the choice of the three, which should you choose?
Just this last week, a study was published by Environmental Science and Technology on the topic. Let’s start with the plane, compared to the train. Airplanes are about 3 percent of total global climate emissions. A single flight produces three tons of carbon dioxide per passenger. We found out that if you take the train instead, then you’ll cut carbon dioxide (CO2) by half compared to the plane. The main reason is that the train, even though it may be a big carbon emitter, is designed to carry more passengers, so the per capita emissions are a lot lower. We also have to consider that we are talking about full planes and full trains. We really hope you aren’t taking planes and trains by yourself, or are almost empty, because if you are, well, then you are basically killing the planet all by yourself. Thanks a lot.
Get this, driving a car with no passengers has the same basic climate impact as taking an 80-percent-full plane flight a similar distance. If a plane is full, it has a better emission impact value than a car with one person. Add two other people to the car and it’s like you’re traveling on a half-full bus or train. The research shows that at full capacity, a diesel bus comes in the lead as the best option, followed by a high-speed train, then a car with three or more people in it, then the medium aircraft. Wonder if Betty White counts as a third person in the car?!
If you do need to fly, and it is possible, we recommend the most eco-friendly airline, Alaska Airlines. A report by the London School of Economics ranked Alaska Airlines as one of the top airlines for the lowest carbon emissions. When we have flown via Alaska Airlines, we have noticed a visible difference in the way they even handle waste in flight. Alaska Air also consistently leads airlines on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the most fuel-efficient North American airline. They have very little-no plastic, and all items they hand out to passengers were recyclable or compostable.
Packing for Eco-friendly Travel
We have mastered packing light, but it never hurts to brush up on skills to improve. One thing we did was upgrade our luggage cases to BÉIS Carry-On Rollers. They have many more compartments and are able to fit more, without having more bags, and that is always great, not only for saving money but space.
When you have more space, you can be more mindful about incorporating eco-friendly items into your travel, like stainless steel water bottles that are refillable, rather than buying plastic bottles. You can also pack a couple of cloth totes for buying local produce and fresh goodies on your travels, which we will get into in just a bit.
This is something we are really good about since we really love to take in our travel the way the locals do. Often, it does take a little bit of time to research public transportation options but it is better for the environment, and you see parts of the towns/cities you wouldn’t otherwise, through the back door.
We also enjoy walking a great deal around a new city, taking in as much as we can while on foot, so that is an advantage. We do seem to get into situations in some cities where we can depend a bit too much on uber, and we vow to be better about that. When I am traveling alone, I all of a sudden think I am Carrie Bradshaw, hailing taxis everywhere I go, like I have an endless budget to spend on transportation. That spending adds up, but so do the carbon emissions.
Bikes are also a growing trend, not only in beach towns, like our own, and of course in our fave Key West, but in larger cities, like New York and LA, there are bike share programs such as Citi Bike that are great way to visually take in your surroundings and is a green way to get around while you travel.
Buy Locally Grown/Made Food
One of the things that we love is a farmers market, but we really love to explore a city’s local options, getting to know the inner heart of those who grow and make items in the places we visit. We feel a deeper sense of belonging at a city’s market, or co-op. It’s usually not where the traditional tourists visit, mainly where the locals dwell, so it’s sort of a hidden, but not so hidden gem.
This is where those cloth bags and stainless steel bottles come in handy. You can make this an experience and grab a few items to prepare a meal later, but you can also grab some local items and find an outdoor space to take in the scenery and dine outdoors, enjoying the nosh you’ve garnered from the local vendors.
Buying local reduces the carbon footprint, supports the local economy, and experiences locally-grown and made treats that you more than likely wouldn’t have otherwise had.
Of course, we’d be remiss not to mention that every city, state, and country has different recycling laws. Be sure to pay attention to the local guidelines for how to properly dispose of items when you are visiting.
We hope that these tips inspire you to be a bit greener as you begin to travel again, but more than anything, we hope that it just gets you a bit excited about TRAVELING AGAIN! AHHH! Yes, friends! It is right around the corner! Adventures, here we come! This time, a little more eco-friendly!
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