Saturday, November 20, 2010

Do One Green Thing for Your Holiday Travel

Transportation is responsible for 28 percent of U.S. annual carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Every gallon of gasoline burned releases 24-28 pounds of CO2. It's about the same for jet fuel, according to the Tufts University Office of Sustainability. With a national average fuel inefficiency of 19.1 miles per gallon, each car is responsible for releasing 2,750 lbs. of C02 annually. Per seat, on average, every airplane passenger is responsible for burning about 77 gallons of fuel in a 2500 mile cross-country flight, according to this roundup of air travel studies by . That's about 1,555 pounds of CO2!

But hey, it's the holidays. It's all about family togetherness, and families are far-flung. How can we prevent hurt feelings without wounding the planet? Here are some tips from the transportation chapter of my book, Do One Green Thing.

If you can do just one green thing to green your transportation, take the train.

Riding the train cross-country reduces your carbon footprint for the trip in half compared with flying, to 775 pounds of CO2. For commuting and shopping, taking light rail instead of driving reduces your annual transportation greenhouse gases by 1,366 pounds. No light rail in your locale? Take the bus. Commuting by city bus cuts 804 pounds of carbon per annum.

If you've got to drive, it's merrier, greener and cheaper not to go alone. Car pooling spreads expenses and carbon emissions among riders.

*Zipcar car sharing services can now be found in more than 50 cities and 100 universities.

*Car rental companies, which have been offering hybrids for a while, are now branching out into electric vehicles.

No matter what you drive, here are some tips that will increase your fuel efficiency when you drive.

*Drop the road rage. According to the Department of Energy’s fuel economy guide, aggressive driving, such as speeding, rapid acceleration and braking to get around that jerk on the bike, lowers gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds and 5% at city speeds. Also, Big Green Purse reports that most cars hit their optimal fuel economy at 60 miles per hour (mph), so every additional 5 mph after that costs you an extra $0.l0 in gas.

*Keep your car in tune, tires correctly inflated, and change the oil regularly. The Department of Energy states that certain types of serious engine maintenance, such as replacing a busted oxygen sensor, can increase your fuel efficiency by as much as 40%. Keeping tires properly inflated will increase efficiency by 3.3% and regularly cleaning your air filter can improve efficiency by as much as 10%. Guess Granddad was greener than he realized.

Check out our other seasonal tips at

For a one-stop, well-organized green living guide full of tips, product info and shopping lists in every category, from food and drink to cleaning, appliances, lighting, electronics, recycling, clothing and more on transportation, see my book, Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth Through Simple, Everyday Choices.

1 comment:

A Therapist's Chair on the Zocalo said...

Hola desde Mexico. In some ways they do more green living here than I saw in the states. Interesting blog!