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Greenhouse gases emissions are rising every year, and it is set to cause the crossing of watershed limit of 1.5 degree Celsius in next five years.  Long road trips are on every outdoor enthusiast’s bucketlist. They convey a sense of freedom and desire to explore remote valleys.

However, cars have large carbon footprints from their exhaust pipes. This is more true about the gasoline guzzlers and CO2 spewing systems — trucks and campervans.

Automobiles also consume a lot of energy in manufacturing, recycling, and disposal. If you have just bought your car, it has already left a big carbon footprint even before hitting the road.

So how you can lower carbon footprints while on a road trip?

Road-tripping In Sustainable & Earth-Friendly Way

Following the months of COVID-19  forced lockdowns, road-trippers are hitting the road and regaining some sense of normalcy.

As the pandemic has reshaped our world view towards climate change and sustainability, here are some tips for outdoor enthusiasts to travel in sustainable ways during a road trip.

Go Electric

Electric cars or campers leave far less carbon footprints than their petrol/diesel counterparts. In general, an electric car have about 70% less carbon emissions than a petrol car.

GHG emissions comparison of different automobiles. Image: BBC

GHG emissions comparison of different automobiles. Image: BBC

This figure go up when the electricity is produced by solar/wind power plant or a nuclear power plant.

Travel light and travel smart

Stuffing tons of luggage in your car will reduce its efficiency and burning fuel more quickly. This will lead to frequent visits to the fuel station and more carbon dioxide in the air. Pack only the essentials and choose lighter 4×4 gear and accessories while shopping.

Carry reusable water bottles

Though it may seem obvious, it is surprising how often we overlook this tip and forget carrying water bottles that are reusable.  En route, you won’t have to purchase single-use water bottles — a major source of plastic pollution — at gas stations or grocery stores.

It’s also healthier for you. If left in cars during a sunny day, plastic water bottles can leach dangerous chemicals into the water — when it gets hot inside the car.

Tune-up your car engine and transmission before heading out

Fuel efficiency of cars tend to drop as they get old. Conversely, their carbon emission tend to increase over time. If you are driving an old car and it is not tuned-up, you’ll end up burning more fuel and releasing more earth warming gases in the air.

The engine and transmission should be tuned up (see an expert mechanic if this is not your thing). Make sure you are using the correct tire pressure and your gas caps is securely fastened (missing or broken gas caps reduce fuel efficiency and cause toxic fumes to escape).

Engage Cruise Control

You can increase your fuel mileage by engaging your cruise control on the highway and maintaining a constant speed. It allows you to drive farther, the gas in your car to last longer, and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.

Make a route plan in advance

If you are taking long detours or backtracking frequently, it adds up to more fuel and carbon emissions than simply driving from point A to B on the shortest possible route. When you map and plot your route in advance, you will save fuel and reduce emissions.

Use reusable bags and containers

A road trip involves constantly stopping in stores, eating out at restaurants, and stopping for souvenir shopping. Bring reusable bags to the grocery stores. Plastic bags and containers add up every time you stop at a store to buy supplies.  Reusable bags/container will reduce your plastic waste to a great extent.

Don’t idle your car

Road trips frequently involve idling the car for taking in the scenic view or stopping for a picture. Stop the engine, get out of your car, and enjoy that view in its entirety. This will save fuel (and lower emissions) than idling the car.

Offset your emissions

These tips are good for reducing your carbon emission and waste generated during your overland journey but there still would be a significant amount of gas emitted and waste generated.  To offset your carbon footprints, you can take part in conservation programs and investment programs offered by various renewable and green energy organizations.

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