Green travel suggestions for a cynic
I recently had a conversation with a friend’s wife about their summer plans. They are planning an 1800 mile road trip and she asked me to help them offset their carbon footprint by being even greener than I normally would be. Why was she so worried about offsetting their footprint? Weren’t they doing green already? Come to find out my friend is convinced that global warming is a lie and a ploy to get people to actually spend more money. If his forward thinking wife didn’t want to insure that her 2 young sons had trees to play in and that there would be animals in the forests for them to share with their own children, they wouldn’t even recycle. Gasp! The horror of the realization sinks in: I know and care for someone who thinks green is an evil plot to take over the world.
I’ll admit, I see his point about global warming. There has been a great deal of talk about global warming and it has become the generic subplot to just about everything. There have even been a few movies featuring global warming as the big bad evil. But an evil plot for global domination?
I think my friend needs to see green from a different perspective, to see green in the shade of a different green altogether. Forget all you have heard about ozone layers, melting ice caps, and desalinization of the world’s oceans. I’m talking about hard cold cash, in your pocket, accumulating to send your kids to college type stuff. And it isn’t about anything particularly huge, complicated, or even all that expensive. All I ask is that you consider taking a few small baby size steps. Can you hear him? “Yeah, right! Forget it.” My, he is a cynic, isn’t he?
The place to start is to replace your light bulbs. Yes, light bulbs. You know the ones I am talking about, those funny looking spiral ones, but wait till you see them now. There are all kinds of them out there now, even ones that will work in dimmers. I personally favor the daylight variety and trust me, you haven’t seem light like these anywhere. The light is pure and clean and after hours of reading legal fine print my eyes aren’t tired and I don’t have a headache. But we are talking green right? Having replaced all the bulbs in the house except the bulbs in one chandelier because they just don’t make those yet, the savings on the electrical bill alone has been about 40%. Yes, 40%. So what do you think about that? That’s $40 saved from each $100 spent. Couldn’t you use an extra $40 every month? And they really do last as long as they claim. The ones in my bedroom are still the original bulbs I put in 4 years ago. So imagine the money I have saved on replacing light bulbs. That alone has paid for the CFL bulbs. Easy right?
What else? Keep recycling especially if there is a recycling center in the same parking lot as your local grocery store. Recycle your bottles and cans and then with the money you get back, because you have already paid the redemption value, go into the store and do your grocery shopping. You have not only gotten your deposit back, you have also saved the gas you would have used to make separate trips to recycle and to buy groceries. OR if that is just too much trouble, put your recyclables in the bin you already have at home designed for it and the city will take it away for you. How hard is that?
How about laundry? The key here is to only wash when you have a full load and when possible to only use cold water. Yes, that means you will need to get laundry detergent that works in cold water but you have to buy the stuff anyway, so there you have it. This way you will save the cost of having to heat water for the wash and, in some cases you’ll help your clothes last longer, or at least help keep them form shrinking, especially those wool sweaters. Yes, I have done this as well and the savings isn’t huge but even $5-10 a month adds up over the course of a year.
So you don’t think my friend is a total clod, he does shop at the local farmer’s market and for that he gets a green star for that. Buying locally is a great way to live green and when on a road trip it is also a great way to get in touch with the local culture and turns your ordinary trip into green travels. And of course I’d suggest checking out www.ecotripper.com to find green hotels along the route of a road trip, or at your final destination to make it even a bit greener. And since a road trip by definition involves a car, be sure to keep the tire pressure at the vehicles recommended level. This will not only make for a better ride inside the car but the tires will wear the way they were meant to plus you’ll get better gas mileage.
Was that so hard? I didn’t think so. And I didn’t talk about global warming did I? Except at the very beginning, but that doesn’t count. Try it, you’ll like it and keep track of your savings. You will be pleasantly surprised. I promise.
Travel green. Pass it on.