Just like at home, our daily routines while traveling, have a significant impact on the environment. Activities like shopping, sightseeing and dining out directly affect our carbon footprint – that is, the quantity of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced in the course of our planned activities.
National Geographic offers the following tips in their article, “How to Calculate Your Carbon Footprint When Traveling”:
- Consider the distance of travel and estimate total mileage. Whether you are traveling by car, plane, train, public transit, bicycle, or boat, the actual efficiency of any given mode of transportation depends on various factors. Plane travel, for example, depends on type of aircraft and weather conditions.
- Choose your mode of transportation and roughly estimate energy efficiency.
Plane travel exudes large amounts of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide, and it also includes the processing and transport costs of food, beverages, waste products and the paper used for in-flight magazines.
- If you are driving, renting a hybrid could be more fuel efficient than driving a gas guzzling SUV. Also keep in mind carpooling could reduce impact, as well as choosing trains or buses, powered by electricity or biodiesel. Such vehicles are often more carbon-efficient than cars and airplanes and a good choice for travelers concerned about their carbon footprints.
- Keeping track of our personal energy consumption is another important factor to consider. How often do we leave lights burning? What is the temperature in the room? Does the hotel wash, dry and change the sheets each day? Also consider use of appliances such as television, microwave, hair dryer, coffee maker and laptop.
- Menu and food consumption – Knowing what products are in season and visiting local stores and restaurants producing home grown products can greatly reduce our carbon footprint. Food transported from another region or country substantially increases impact. Instead, check out the Farmer’s Market and apply the local/non-local rule to all purchases.
Good news! By calculating our carbon footprint prior to departure we can identify, ahead of time, situations of greater impact, and possibly choose a lower footprint option. We can also off-set our carbon footprint by purchasing carbon credits that allow funding for eco-projects promising to promote continuation of clean-energy development and sustainability initiatives. For more information on carbon offsetting programs please visit: justgreencommunity.com/carbon-offsetting.