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How to Make Your Road Trip Eco-Friendly?

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A road trip is a great way to spend a vacation. Road trips are generally inexpensive, entertaining and sociable, as they give you plenty of time to make stronger bonds with your fellow travelers. When you’re planning everything that needs to be done before and during the trip, it’s easy to forget about environmental issues. Patricia Dimick writes.

Although we might not be aware of it, road trips and the environment are intertwined. As you consider what to pack, your driving route and your vehicle’s fuel economy, consider making some extra efforts to reduce your carbon footprint and care for nature.

Pack Mindfully

Consider your travel mates, the duration of your trip, your destination and its weather conditions and then make a careful list of what you’ll really need for your trip. Remove all the unnecessary items from you list and get any unneeded items out of your vehicle. The extra weight of clutter has a negative impact on your car’s fuel economy. Also try to avoid using a rooftop cargo carrier, as its weight and shape lower your car’s fuel efficiency, even if the carrier is empty.

Plan Ahead

When you choose a destination, map out the route before leaving home. Find the quickest route to save on money, lower fuel use and minimize your carbon footprint. The U.S. Environmental Protection agency states that emissions from U.S. vehicles increased by 2.0 percent from 2012 to 2013.

One of the main causes was the increase in miles traveled on the road. Plan your pit stops strategically too. Do some Internet research to find farmer’s markets or shops along the way where you can stop for lunch, take a break and go for a walk to stretch your legs. Setting out on foot lets you explore the local community and enjoy local treasures. Pack some travel friendly and healthy food like nuts, dried and fresh fruits and granola that don’t require refrigeration. Keep your snacks in reusable containers. Try filling reusable travel bottles with water to avoid the waste produced by disposable plastic water bottles. These strategies help you avoid extra stops at the convenience store and you won’t have to buy any individually wrapped snacks that have wasteful packaging.

Check Your Vehicle

An ideal vehicle for an eco-friendly road trip would be an electric or hybrid car. Their fuel efficiency and environmental friendliness produce lower harmful emissions and some produce no pollutants whatsoever. Many rental car services offer hybrid models, so even if you don’t own one yourself, you can still enjoy their benefits. No matter what kind of a vehicle you’re traveling in, there are certain things you can do that will minimize the amount of damage your trip causes to the environment.

A thorough tune-up before you leave helps increase the car’s fuel efficiency and prolongs its lifespan. Getting your car serviced before you hit the road also helps prevent small malfunctions that negatively impact your fuel economy. For example, a blocked air filter lowers fuel economy by 20 percent. Improperly inflated tires can lower mileage by 0.4 percent for each PSI (pound per square inch) drop in pressure of all four tires, as the tires and road have too much tension between them. Under inflated tires also wear out faster and make your car more difficult to handle. Improperly inflated tires also lead to increased greenhouse emissions and air pollution.

Your Driving Style and Habits

Your driving style and habits, such as abrupt braking, hitting the gas and accelerating rapidly increase your carbon footprint. Whenever you’re stopped for more than 2 minutes, turn off your car’s engine. Idling also uses gas and there is no sudden surge of emissions when your car’s engine starts up. Use the cruise control feature as much as you can, as maintaining a steady rate of speed helps your car use gasoline more efficiently.

The vehicle’s cooling system is also a major contributor to global warming. The air conditioner uses a lot of fuel to function and pumps out hot air into the local atmosphere, where it creates heat zones that lead to abnormal weather patterns. Because most automobile air conditioners still rely upon hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, these effects are greater than what your home’s more environmentally friendly air conditioning system does. The emissions from your car’s air conditioner have more powerful greenhouse effects due to the ozone depleting chemicals and the carbon dioxide it releases.

When you can, drive with the windows closed, as this lowers drag on the car. Act strategically based upon the outdoor temperature. If it’s warm, try to park in the shade and open your windows during your pit stops. Avoid using the car’s heater unless it’s absolutely needed. When you do use it, only turn it on for short periods of time. Try out car covers or even tarps to protect your car overnight. You could also have a solar powered fan installed inside your vehicle. These don’t use electricity or fuel and they can help eliminate heat buildup and provide good air circulation even with the windows closed. The on-board gadgets like navigational systems, touch screens or Wi-Fi connections also consume fuel and are a drain on your car’s battery.

Traveling in your own car on a road trip is one of the most comfortable and enjoyable ways to explore the world. You get to set the schedule, locations, pit stops and detours along the way, giving you freedom and independence. While enjoying yourself on the road, it’s important to keep the environment in mind because all the cars and trucks on the roads make a considerable impact on pollution and climate change. Today’s automobile manufacturers are also becoming more environmentally conscious, making it easier for you to make environmentally friendly choices, adding up to those of other individuals.

BIO: Patricia Dimick is a Denver-based freelance writer and a stay-at-home mother. As a passionate green living advocate, she enjoys exploring and writing about anything eco-friendly related, whether in theory or from her own experience. Photo: Image credit to Jon on Flickr

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Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family

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Greenest Vehicle
Licensed Image by Shutterstock - By Mascha Tace -- https://www.shutterstock.com/g/maschatace

When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?

What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?

As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.

Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.

5 Good Options

As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:

1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.

2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.

3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.

4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.

5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel

If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?

Putting it All Together

You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.

You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

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How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life

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how climate change affect our lives
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Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense.  But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?

For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out.  A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession.  This bigger issue was that of climate change.  And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.

Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more.  He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland.  There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.

The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done.  With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet.  The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind.  As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness.  The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small.  The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty.  As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.

We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help.  And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet.  Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change.  You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed.  But so is he.  Every change starts with one.

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