Travel deals are bringing the prices of vacations down to levels not seen since the 1980′s, multigenerational and green travel are burgeoning trends, and the economic downturn indicates that the classic car trip is sure to be a more popular method of vacation travel than ever before. But cars emit CO2, a known greenhouse gas. How compatible are green travel and the Great American Road Trip?
Very, it turns out. Travel planners just have to do a little research before piling the kids and all their assorted acoutrements (Nintendo DS, iPod, etc) into the family car. As there are carbon offset for air travel, so there are carbon credits available for road trips. The following are reputable organizations that help concerned travelers calculate their automobile’s CO2 output, and purchase offsets accordingly.
NativeEnergy – Native Energy helps travelers buy carbon offsets to make their vacations more carbon neutral. Monies spent offsetting the CO2 output of car-based travel are put towards supporting Native Americans, farmers, and sustainable projects. The current portfolio includes the Kasigluk Alaska Native Village Wind Turbines, Boulder Creek Hydro Project, and Farmer-Owned Distributed Wind. The website is easy to use: NativeEnergy guides travel planners through calculating their cars’ carbon emissions and makes purchasing offsets as easy as clicking a button.
Terrapass – This green organization is prominent in its field. Offering air travel and home energy carbon offsets as well as for cars, Terrapass is an easily navigatable site. To estimate a planned car trip’s carbon output, the “carbon footprint calculator” asks for a given car’s year, make, and model. Then, input “miles per year” as the estimated mileage of the road trip (instead of the yearly CO2 emission). The same webpage then allows users to see results and buy offsets.
Carbonfund – Carbonfund offers “carbon free certification” for products, information about climate change, and carbon offset programs for individuals and businesses. In terms of planning a carbon neutral car trip, users can measure their cars’ CO2 output (hint: SUVs have a heavier carbon footprint than do hybrids and other efficient autos) with either preset values or for specific miles. The car calculator is similar to that used by Terrapass, with an added detail asking for specs such as automatic transmission.
Sustainable Travel International – STI has a carbon offset calculator for travel, along with an eco-directory and a program of travel philanthropy, Altruistic Travel.Â Much like NativeEnergy, STI puts purchased carbon credits to good use with green projects in the US, China, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, and South Africa. STI’s carbon calculator is a bit simplified, compared to the details required above. The emission calculator may be more of a rounded estimation as a result.
Car trips are a great way for families to experience travel together, with the ride being as memorable as the destination. Families concerned about their relative carbon footprint can trust these programs to put their offsets to good, green use. Clean energy investment and support for tourism and sustainable development is key towards becoming carbon neutral.