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Tips on eco-friendly travel

Keep Liberty County Beautiful

POSTED: September 22, 2007 5:04 a.m.
Autumn is a busy travel time for my husband, Lindsay, and me. We both went to the University of Georgia and we “bleed red and black.” Translation: we are pretty avid fans. When September comes, we head up to Athens for as many home games as we can. So this is a good time to highlight some tips for making road trips as environmentally-friendly as possible.
Oh, I was just reminded by my pug, Herschel, to mention that he also goes “on the road” with us to Athens. He was named after Herschel Walker, after all. We are fortunate that Chunk, his nickname because he is... “big-boned,” is a seasoned traveler and has been since he was eight weeks old. However, if you have a pet, Chunk recommends that you pay particular attention to Tip 6.  
So, here are some great suggestions from Earth 911’s “Green Eight” series, which highlights ways to “green” your life.
1. Pick a “quality” destination.  The beautiful thing about road trips is they can be spontaneous enough to allow you to decide even where you are going at the last minute. One of the benefits of this spontaneity is that your destination can be chosen based on the current air and water quality level of that area.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a Web site, AIRNow, where you can find air quality conditions for anywhere in the U.S. and Beaches 911 provides water quality reports for states with ocean or Great Lakes access. If your potential destination has unhealthy air and/or beach water quality on the days you want to go, consider a different spot so you aren’t contributing to the problem.
2. Snack smart.  If you’re going to be in the car for more than three hours, you’ll probably want some snacks and drinks. But keep in mind that it’ll be tough to find recycling containers on the road, so choose your snacks wisely.
Instead of individually packaged snacks in plastic, what about packing a reusable plastic container full of trail mix? Plastic water bottles and soda cans are fine for home when you can easily recycle, but what about taking reusable water bottles and insulated coffee mugs for the road?
3. Plan your pit stops.  The more stops you have to make, the more energy you’re going to consume during the trip. A good rule of thumb is that if one person needs to make a stop to use the bathroom or stretch their legs, everyone should try to do the same. It will save energy in the long run.
4. Travel during off-hours. If you plan a road trip on Friday afternoon of a three-day weekend, you’ll inevitably face traffic. Stop-and-go driving will reduce your fuel efficiency, plus it will make a three-hour trip seem like three days. Leaving a few hours later—-or earlier—- can sometimes make all the difference.
5. Carpool.  Let’s say you’re going away for the weekend with friends, four of you in all. Should you take two cars or one?  You can probably fit all your luggage in one and save valuable energy. Just don’t try cramming eight people into a two-seater. Be practical. Plus, singing “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” is much more fun with four people than two.
6. Use pet caution.  Lots of people think road trips are the perfect time to bring along a pet because there aren’t the restrictions of air travel. However, keep in mind that a car can restrict a pet, and extra stops for your pet can affect your fuel consumption.
Definitely make sure your pet can handle a short car trip before going out on the open road. The last thing you want is a dog suffering from motion sickness when you are already an hour out of town. For more good pet safety tips, visit the website Pets 911.
7. Pack reasonably. Taking two suitcases for a two-day trip is madness, and it will end up weighing down your car and reducing your gas mileage. Even for a week-long trip, try keeping your cargo on the low side.
At the same time, don’t load up on supplies at your destination that you’ll have to bring home. A trip to Northern California might make it tempting to pack three cases of wine in your backseat, but that extra weight will have a significant effect on the eco-friendliness of your road trip.
8. Plan side trips.  We’ve all been on the road and seen signs for a petrified forest or historic cabin that is “right off the freeway.” Three miles later you are still driving down a dirt road looking.  At the same time, you are hurting your gas mileage as well as all the roadside plants absorbing all that dust that your car is generating. If you plan your side trips ahead of time or use a GPS system, you can enjoy “impulse exits” and feel good about being a good “green” traveler.
So, have a good time on trips this fall, but don’t forget to think—-and plan—- “green” for them.

For more information on Keep Liberty County Beautiful programs, contact Swida at 368-4888 or klcb@coastalnow.net
 

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