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How The Way You Travel Is Affecting Our Planet

This year there have been increased rumblings around the world about climate change with details regarding the way we are all collectively killing the planet seemingly being reported each day, but there are many ways we can do our own little bit to help save the world.

Currently air travel is being cited as the number one enemy in our fight against global warming. The amount of carbon dioxide that an East to West coast flight generates is around one metric ton. And that is a lot. Cutting down on the amount of times you take air travel can be a great way to reduce your own personal carbon footprint.

Earlier this year there was an event at Google Camp that centered on climate change and many high profile names were in attendance, including Barack Obama and the United Kingdom’s Prince Harry as well as environmental champion Leonardo DiCaprio. While the efforts of so many people should be applauded, there were many who thought the 114 private jets that were used to get to the $20 million event was slightly hypocritical.

Another pivotal moment in raising climate change awareness was the rise of environmentalist Greta Thunberg, a 16 year old Swedish girl who sailed around the globe to chastise the Western world for creating an environmental issue that her generation – and generations to come – will have to continue to fix. On the back of Thunberg’s successful cultural movement, the concept of flight shaming – or ‘flygskam’ – has risen.

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The Swedish word originated from an anti-flying movement started by Swedish singer Staffan Lindberg. Lindberg originally wrote an article vowing to give up flying which was also signed by five of his famous friends, including Thunberg’s mother Malena Ernman. Thunberg has taken the campaign – where they suggest people should feel ashamed for using air travel due to the massive negative impact it has on the planet – and incorporated it into her “awareness tour” around Europe.

We are not suggesting you drive each time you travel cross-country, or sail around the world to your next meeting or holiday in Europe, but you can travel more by train. However America has over 3.7 million square miles of landmass meaning there are obstacles here too. For instance, a train journey from Los Angeles to Houston is over 35 hours long and is clearly not feasible for most travelers, but by taking the train on shorter journeys you can “do your bit.”

Currently train travel is the most environmentally friendly way to get around and many passengers are “getting on board” with the idea. The Pacific Surfliner in Southern California has seen an increase in travelers with around 3 million using the train service in 2018. Getting from Hollywood to San Diego takes around three hours, roughly the same time as sitting in a car. The difference being that on a train you can do your work, move around and most importantly, reduce your carbon footprint.

Train travel is also seeing a huge resurgence in popularity in the Northeast Corridor with over 17 million journeys being taken each year.
But if train travel is not the best way for you to get around and you have to rely on your car why not opt for an electric vehicle?

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Not only are electric cars far more beneficial to the planet – each EV has zero exhaust emissions – they can also use renewable energy. By recharging your car from a supply such as a solar powered grid, you would be reducing your greenhouse emissions even further.

And if this was not enough to convince you to trade in your gas powered vehicle to an electric one how about the fact that most electric vehicles are now being made with eco-friendly materials such as bio-based or recycled materials.

Other benefits of driving an electric car are the running costs and health benefits. The cost to charge an electric car works out at roughly a third as much per mile as buying gas. They are also cheaper to maintain thanks to having fewer parts – for example, there are no exhausts systems, starter motors or fuel injection systems as well as many other parts that a conventional car would need.

And with less harmful exhaust emissions the air quality will improve, meaning better air for us to breathe.

So when you are planning your next journey ask yourself these important questions. Can I take my time getting there? Do I really need to fly? Would an electric car – bought or hired – be the better option?

And if you can utilize America’s vast train network make sure you sit back, think about how you have done your bit to help the planet, and enjoy the scenery going past. You will be amazed at what you have been missing.