Over the past 18 months, I have made over 40 road trips from Pennsylvania to Boston. Five plus hours and 285 miles each way. That is a lot of driving, people! There is also a lot that I have learned in that time about making environmentally friendly road trips. Believe it or not, it can be done with just a little bit of forethought!
Here are my tips for a green road trip, so you can make your next car trip environmentally friendly:
Before the Trip:
Plan your route ahead of time. The shortest route will be the most gas-saving one too. And less gas used equals less money spent on gas!
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Get your car prepared in advance as well. Make sure the tires are properly inflated, the engine tuned, the oxygen sensor working, the air filters clean, and that you have the recommended grade of motor oil in the vehicle (preferably an energy conserving grade). A lot of these can be done yourself for little or no extra money. Each of these can affect your gas mileage, so do not miss those regular auto check-ups!
Pack pre-portioned healthy snacks into reusable bags or containers rather than purchasing snacks at a rest stop. Wondering what other food to take with you? Why not start with any fruits, vegetables, bread and other products that would have expired while you are away?
Along the same lines, bring canteens or BPA-free reusable water bottles with you on your trip.
Bring two bags with you in the car. One that can hold non-recyclable trash and one that can hold recyclables.
Need to stay occupied in the car? Borrow books from the library or a friend instead of buying new ones. Put the backs of paper documents and notices (the clean side) in a clipboard and take along on your trip for coloring pages or notes. Boogie Board LCD eWriters are also great to bring along on road trips.
With that said, travel as lightly as possible. Reduced weight in the car means less gas used, which means less carbon used. Also, the less you have to carry once you arrive at your destination, the more likely it is that you will walk rather than drive once you arrive at your destination.
Along the Way:
If you must stop for food or drink refills, consider looking for the nearest farmer’s market for healthy, locally grown options.
Also when you stop, purchase a large sized bag of healthy snacks or container of water and disperse it into your empty reusable bags and containers, rather than purchasing single serving sized items for each person on the trip.
Unplug items from the charger when they are fully charged or not in use, even in the car.
Use your cruise control on the highway not only to help you maintain a constant speed, but also to save on gas usage.
Staying over? Look for hotels and resorts that practice green approaches, such as recycling, donating unfinished toiletries, allowing gusts to reuse bedding and towels, composting, collecting rainwater, and utilizing renewable energy.
Upon your Return:
Offset your carbon footprint. At http://www.carbonfund.org/offset you can calculate your carbon usage, and make a donation that will offset that usage by reducing emissions somewhere else, such as through planting trees.
Now it’s your turn. What do you do to keep your road trips environmentally friendly or to save money?