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Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

New York eco travel

Eco travel is a subset of some key tourism industry buzzwords such as sustainable tourism and green tourism. While there are overlaps in each of these terms, eco travel is more about the way that we get to a destination, rather than the destination itself, or our eco-friendly behaviors in an exotic location.
Consider the following: in general, air travel is the most expensive way to get from point A to point B, at least from an out of pocket standpoint. A ticket on any air carrier is likely to cost the traveler much more than driving, or perhaps even taking a train. If the distance to a destination is less than 1000 miles, while it might seem to make sense to take some ground form of transportation from a cost perspective, on a per-passenger basis, and from an eco travel / greenhouse gas emissions perspective, flying leaves a much smaller carbon footprint than does driving a car.

Here are some examples, generated from the carbon footprint calculator at For the purpose of this example, we're traveling one way from Philadelphia, Pa. (USA) to Minneapolis, Mn. (USA), or a distance of approximately 1170 miles.

Airline: 352 pounds (.16 metric tons) CO2 emissions

Auto: 1058 pounds (.48 metric tons) CO2 emissions

Bus: 551 pounds (.25 metric tons) CO2 emissions

Train: 66 pounds (.03 metric tons) CO2 emissions

Clearly, taking the train is the most eco travel friendly way to make this trip. In some respects, that's why many countries around the globe are investing heavily in high speed rail systems. Making train travel attractive to time-sensitive riders can make a tremendous difference in a country's compliance with climate change treaties. And, for the tourist, there's not a better (or more romantic) way to see a country.

Regardless of the mode of transportation, and irrespective of the distance to any given destination, there are other ways that eco travel can positively impact the environment around us - and global sustainability in general. Anyone who is truly committed to eco travel can buy carbon offsets to make up for the transportation emissions when they travel. These offsets support sustainability by funding eco-friendly programs around the globe.

At the end of the day, eco travel is simply about getting from here to there and minimizing our environmental impact while doing so. Traveling in an environmentally conscious way requires a bit of forethought to make the best choices, but from a standpoint of global sustainability, doing so isn't all that difficult. And it's really a no-brainer.

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