Summer is finally here, and for many families and groups of friends, this is also road trip season!
It’s not too difficult to live an eco-friendly lifestyle at home by recycling, monitoring your energy usage, and buying sustainable products for everyday use. However, “staying green” is a bit more challenging when you’re out on the road and fulfilling your thirst for adventure. Keeping the environment in mind is challenging while road tripping, but it’s certainly possible and just as important as any other time.
Here are some practical ways to make your summer road trip more eco-friendly this year.
Take a Train or Bus Instead
There’s definitely something enchanting about hopping into your car and feeling the open road beneath your tires. But honestly, the most eco-friendly way to travel is to skip the car trip altogether. If your schedule and itinerary allow, consider taking a long-distance train or bus to reach your destination. Not only do these modes of transportation allow you to experience the journey without getting lost or fussing with GPS directions, but they can also provide opportunities to meet other travelers and locals along the way.
If you’re planning to rent a car to travel around your destination, there are lots of options you have to make the journey more eco-friendly. Some rental car companies, such as Hertz, allow you to specifically choose eco-friendly hybrid and electric cars. The initial rental price may be more expensive, but the gas savings and the environmental impact will be worth it. Try to limit your air conditioning usage and choose a white or light-colored rental car to boost your fuel efficiency.
Speed limits of 55 mph weren’t implemented to slow down your vacation; they were adopted to help conserve fuel. Depending on what type of car you drive, accelerating from 45 mph to 75 mph on open highways reduces your fuel efficiency by at least 20-30 percent.
Not only are you wasting energy by speeding, but you’re also costing yourself more money. Every 5 mph that you speed over 50 mph causes you to spend an extra $0.19 per gallon of fuel. Set your cruise control on the highway to keep your road trip eco-friendly, budget-friendly, and also avoid getting pulled over for a speeding ticket.
Ditch the Cargo Rack
Extra weight on and inside your car makes your road trip less energy efficient as well. According to the Ricardo Inc. “Impact of Vehicle Weight Reduction on Fuel Economy for Various Vehicle Architectures” study, an extra 100 pounds in your vehicle reduces your miles per gallon by about 1 percent. Embrace the spirit of minimalism and pack as light as possible. If you can get by without the cargo roof rack and the tow-behind trailer, then leave them at home and pack everything inside your vehicle.
Recycle Car Waste
Perhaps you have designated bins at home to separate landfill trash from paper, plastic, and aluminum recycling materials. Although it’s more challenging to keep this up while traveling, it’s worth a try and less of a hassle than you may think.
Pack several disposable trash bags in your car to keep waste items separated and stored in the trunk. The hotels you’re staying at may have recycling bins where you can drop off your bags. The website EnvironmentallyFriendlyHotels.com is a good resource to see if your hotel can accommodate your recycling needs. If you’re camping, some public and private campgrounds have recycling bins too. For recycling on the road, check out Earth 911 to search for drop-off recycling points along your route.