Every year when January 1 rolls around, people all over the world vow to change their lives. There’s something about the clean slate of a new year that inspires us to embrace change. Many of us have New Year’s resolutions in common: we frequently plan to lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking, get out of debt, and organize our homes. We also vow that we will begin enjoying life more by doing things like splurging on the occasional spa treatment like a candlelit massage or glittery manicure or even indulging in travel to some exotic, far-flung place. But unfortunately, plans to see the world can directly contradict the more important resolution of living a greener life.
The experts at Lets Fly Cheaper released a study this week on the fuel efficiency the major airlines in the United States. What they discovered was alarming. The United States airline industry consumes more fuel than that of any other country in the world. Just Delta and American airlines consumed over 3 million gallons of fuel in 2011: in fact, they topped the list of least fuel-efficient fleets in America. So does this mean you can never travel again? Of course not! It just means you have to get a little more creative when planning your next trip:
Even though air travel is leaves a major carbon footprint, you can still reward carriers that are pushing the green envelope. Alaska Airlines has recently begun fueling some of its shorter flights with biodiesel made from recycled cooking oil. The cost of this more ecologically-conscious fuel is incredibly high compared to standard jet fuel: still, production will rise if more airlines adopt it meaning it will become less cost-prohibitive over time. In the meantime, if you must fly, try to spend your money with environmentally-responsible airlines that embrace alternative fuel technology. That failing, you can also purchase a carbon offset to maintain your green balance.
Forgo A Vacation: Indulge In A Staycation
Ironically, people who live in the trendiest of tourism meccas often don’t take advantage of all the exciting activities their town or city has to offer. No matter where you live, you are likely missing out on all kinds of amazing sights because you’re too distracted by the daily grind of work and chores. Instead of departing for parts unknown, plan to spend your next vacations seeing your town through fresh eyes. Book a stay in a local green hotel and spend the day visiting all the places you’ve always wanted to see but have never found the time to explore. Chances are your hometown has all kinds of hidden gems like museums and botanical gardens and incredible restaurants. Take public transportation – many cities now have trolleys and rail cars that are charming and convenient. In the evenings go catch a play at a local theater before returning to your room and creating some romantic ambience by lighting eco-friendly candles and ordering a decadent dessert from room service.
Take The Morning Train – Or The Afternoon Train, or The Evening Train
Train travel is an incredibly eco-friendly way to travel – on average it releases ten times fewer greenhouse gases per passenger journey than flying does. It’s also far more relaxing than air travel. You can stroll around the train or sit and enjoy a nice meal and pleasant conversation as the landscape whizzes by. The hustle and bustle of travel can be incredibly stressful, which defeats your resolution of enjoying life more. But when the journey is just as pleasant as the destination, suddenly your trip becomes much more meaningful.
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