This summer, I want to be in the Northeast for about a month, to visit family and friends, give my yoga practice a boost with a few days at Kripalu Center in The Berkshires, and slake my thirst for art and culture in New York City.
Along with millions of other Americans, I hear the siren call of summer ‘elsewhere.’ Except that I am trying to figure out how to travel with the smallest possible carbon impact. I share my dilemma with a friend who is bemused that I am considering taking a train (awful food, noisy) because I believe flying takes the biggest toll on the environment. Yes, I know the seat is going anyway.
Probably driving is the least bad way to haul me, spouse and stuff some 1,600 miles in one direction and back. I have driven up and down the East Coast enough times to own a dog-eared Road Atlas with notes about interesting food stops (Gulf oysters at St. Augustine Beach), good radio stations, clean toilets, as well as places to avoid. When planes were temporarily grounded after 9/11, we drove from California to New York, four nights, five days on the road. I’ve never added up all the miles, but the call of the open road is pretty well out of my system. Anyway, driving a fuel-efficient car even with two passengers doesn’t beat traveling by bus — hands-down the most energy-efficient, least carbon-loaded way to get anywhere. Hey, rock stars do it, albeit in luxurious coach-style.
Truth is I’m more of a homebody than I used to be, even before I began to be alarmed about the environment enough to do something personally. Come to find out that when you add up heating/cooling, washing and drying clothes (a biggie) and even computer usage, our homes are where we burn through the most energy. Yikes!
If you find yourself agreeing that it’s our obligation as world citizens to take our contributions to climate change personally, you’ll find a lot of helpful calculators on the Internet. Here’s a gem I just stumbled upon which handily compares itself to other popular ones:
You may be surprised as I was to discover that you can do more good by giving up meat and walking and/or biking more than you drive, than by swearing off flying (obviously, frequent flyers were not included in the tally). Another nugget that I am definitely tucking into my toolkit for future reference: traveling by cargo ship across the Atlantic, then using train and bus to get around.
You might want to poke around some of Michael Bluejay’s other sites as I did. In fact, I was having so much fun, I had to remind myself that I was in the midst of a blog post about my travel dilemma for this summer!
I’ve got my sights on The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating, one couple’s answer to saving the planet, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_100-Mile_Diet, in a future post.