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Top Ways To Lower Your Carbon Footprint Whilst Travelling

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With the rising threat of global warming and a strong focus in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world on environmental protection, it is imperative to know of ways to lower your carbon footprint when you’re travelling. It is always important to remember to renew your EHIC card and book travel insurance when you are travelling abroad, but not many people think about the safety of the environment around them during their trip. With the enhanced focus on eco-friendly travel around the world, we have put together some top ways to lower your carbon footprint whilst travelling.

Before You Go

Before you go on your environmentally friendly trip, you can prepare to go-green by minimising your houses’ footprint. Simple things like turning off all of the lights and electrical appliances, and turning down the thermostat can really help to cut down energy usage. Unplugging electrical appliances also helps as they can still leach power even when they aren’t switched on. These are all important ways to prepare for your eco-friendly trip and getting into the routine of switching off appliances can be something you take with you on your travels.

How To Travel

The way you travel is also important in reducing your footprint. Flying to a destination is the most polluting way to travel, particularly when it comes to short haul flights (defined by the UK Treasury as a flight that undergoes an absolute distance of under 2000 miles). On the other hand, train travel is widely recognised as the least polluting method of transportation. It has been estimated that if domestic flights transferred to rail, carbon emissions would drop by between 118,000 – 362,000 tonnes and nitrogen oxides by 18,000 – 58,000 tonnes. However, it is not always practical to travel this way.

Nevertheless, getting to various parts of the world, Europe in particular if travelling from the UK, and the few extra hours it might take on a train compared to the plane would be worth the reduction of environmental impact. In fact, getting to some places in Europe via train is actually quicker, if you count in the travel to and from the airport and the waiting around time. For example, travelling by Eurostar from London to Avignon, via Paris is just a six hour trip, whereas a flight would take longer due to the waiting around and travel to and from the airport.

If you do have to travel by air, it’s important to take the most direct route possible. Although direct routes might be a little bit more expensive, the more landing and taking off an airplane does, the more fuel it burns, so paying that little bit extra can actually save a lot of fuel. Also try and choose an energy-efficient plane.

Where To Stay

When you choose your location, it is important to look at accommodation that is eco-friendly if you want to reduce your carbon footprint. Many travel companies now offer holidays which support sustainable development, do not impact negatively on the environment and provide support to local communities. A wide number of hotels and other types of accommodation are beginning to use environmentally friendly energy sources such as solar energy or hydroelectric power to power their hotels, as well as having a strong focus on aspects such as recycling and reusing. Staying somewhere that uses renewable energy, no matter how small, is always a good way to help reduce your carbon footprint on the world while travelling. If you know people in the country you’re going to, you can reduce your carbon footprint even more by scrapping the hotel and staying with them instead.

During Your Stay

During your stay there are a variety of things you can do to reduce your environmental impact. Things like conserving water by keeping showers short or turning off the water when brushing your teeth are important. In addition to this, turning off the TV, lights, heating or air-conditioning and reusing sheets and towels instead of having them washed every day are all easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint during your stay. Choosing environmentally friendly transport while you are staying is also a great way to help. Hiring bikes, using buses and trains or simply walking around is far better than driving, and you’re also much more likely to engage in a true cultural experience and discover things that are off the beaten track this way. Respecting the local environment, particularly when trekking or hiking, by staying on marked tracks and not littering are all important ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

When you’re travelling abroad, there are a variety of ways to make sure that you are being eco-friendly and reducing your carbon footprint. Whether you’re choosing alternative travel to airplanes (although this is not always possible), steering clear of domestic flights by using other forms of transportation, using local buses or walking when you’re in the destination, choosing a green hotel, and simply respecting the environment while you’re in the country are all easy ways to make sure that you are travelling in an eco-friendly way.

Economy

Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?

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self-driving cars for green environment
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Zapp2Photo | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/zapp2photo

Technologists, engineers, lawmakers, and the general public have been excitedly debating about the merits of self-driving cars for the past several years, as companies like Waymo and Uber race to get the first fully autonomous vehicles on the market. Largely, the concerns have been about safety and ethics; is a self-driving car really capable of eliminating the human errors responsible for the majority of vehicular accidents? And if so, who’s responsible for programming life-or-death decisions, and who’s held liable in the event of an accident?

But while these questions continue being debated, protecting people on an individual level, it’s worth posing a different question: how will self-driving cars impact the environment?

The Big Picture

The Department of Energy attempted to answer this question in clear terms, using scientific research and existing data sets to project the short-term and long-term environmental impact that self-driving vehicles could have. Its findings? The emergence of self-driving vehicles could essentially go either way; it could reduce energy consumption in transportation by as much as 90 percent, or increase it by more than 200 percent.

That’s a margin of error so wide it might as well be a total guess, but there are too many unknown variables to form a solid conclusion. There are many ways autonomous vehicles could influence our energy consumption and environmental impact, and they could go well or poorly, depending on how they’re adopted.

Driver Reduction?

One of the big selling points of autonomous vehicles is their capacity to reduce the total number of vehicles—and human drivers—on the road. If you’re able to carpool to work in a self-driving vehicle, or rely on autonomous public transportation, you’ll spend far less time, money, and energy on your own car. The convenience and efficiency of autonomous vehicles would therefore reduce the total miles driven, and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

There’s a flip side to this argument, however. If autonomous vehicles are far more convenient and less expensive than previous means of travel, it could be an incentive for people to travel more frequently, or drive to more destinations they’d otherwise avoid. In this case, the total miles driven could actually increase with the rise of self-driving cars.

As an added consideration, the increase or decrease in drivers on the road could result in more or fewer vehicle collisions, respectively—especially in the early days of autonomous vehicle adoption, when so many human drivers are still on the road. Car accident injury cases, therefore, would become far more complicated, and the roads could be temporarily less safe.

Deadheading

Deadheading is a term used in trucking and ridesharing to refer to miles driven with an empty load. Assume for a moment that there’s a fleet of self-driving vehicles available to pick people up and carry them to their destinations. It’s a convenient service, but by necessity, these vehicles will spend at least some of their time driving without passengers, whether it’s spent waiting to pick someone up or en route to their location. The increase in miles from deadheading could nullify the potential benefits of people driving fewer total miles, or add to the damage done by their increased mileage.

Make and Model of Car

Much will also depend on the types of cars equipped to be self-driving. For example, Waymo recently launched a wave of self-driving hybrid minivans, capable of getting far better mileage than a gas-only vehicle. If the majority of self-driving cars are electric or hybrids, the environmental impact will be much lower than if they’re converted from existing vehicles. Good emissions ratings are also important here.

On the other hand, the increased demand for autonomous vehicles could put more pressure on factory production, and make older cars obsolete. In that case, the gas mileage savings could be counteracted by the increased environmental impact of factory production.

The Bottom Line

Right now, there are too many unanswered questions to make a confident determination whether self-driving vehicles will help or harm the environment. Will we start driving more, or less? How will they handle dead time? What kind of models are going to be on the road?

Engineers and the general public are in complete control of how this develops in the near future. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see all the safety benefits of having autonomous vehicles on the road, but without any of the extra environmental impact to deal with.

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Environment

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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