By Amanda Wilked
Planes, trains, and automobiles take us where we want to go, when we want to go there. Thanks to these various modes of transportation, we have the opportunity to see, explore, and discover our beautiful world. After spending a fair amount of time using these tools to see our planet, I have established opinions about transportation.
I will be the first to admit that even during my most recent travel to Sweden, I had to fly on an environmentally unfriendly jetliner that emits pollutants that damage the earth and the health of humans; and then I had to get into a gas guzzling taxi that I know didn’t meet any environmental standards. Of course we each think that we are just one person and going through this transportation routine every once in a while is acceptable; however, when we think about the nearly 13 million commercial flights per year with roughly 250 passengers per flight, we have to acknowledge that we all are contributing to the environmentally corrupted transportation industry. We will continue to travel because we want to see the world and the people we love we, but that means we need to travel in the most environmentally sound way possible in order to preserve what we find precious.
By doing a little research, it is easy to find green travel tips and modes of transportation. Unfortunately most of us rely on aircrafts to travel internationally but when there is no other option, packing less, flying direct, and booking with the most environmentally conscious airlines will help us to do what we can. The biggest difference we can make when traveling internationally or domestically is to research the destination before arrival. For example, try researching environmentally friendly taxis for airport pick-up, eco-friendly hotels at http://www.environmentallyfriendlyhotels.com/, and public transportation to get from place to place at http:/www.publictransportation.org/Pages/default.aspx. The EPA provides a helpful list of things we can do to make sure we are doing the most for our planet when traveling. Before making any travel plans, visit their website at http://www.epa.gov/region1/communities/traveltips.html. So, yes, I did get to Sweden by jetliner because — well — swimming or boating would have taken far too long; but during my time there, I made every environmentally positive decision I could and had fun doing so. Now that I am home in San Diego, I am proud of our Metropolitan Transit System but wish that it were more extensive. Imagine a world completely interconnected by public transportation and how much of the environment would be saved.
I’m sure everyone has a preferred mode of transport. As for me, I feel most comfortable using metros, barts or trains once I have arrived at my destination. At first, rail maps seemed a bit intimidating with their different colors, numbers and destinations; but after a couple of tries, using the rail system now is second nature. The rail system has stolen my heart based on the simple fact that, after a tiring day of exploring a new destination or being at work, the last thing I want to do is get into a car and have to focus all my attention on the road, or even worse … traffic! On the train, I can sit back, relax, watch the scenery, listen to music, catch up on work, read a book, or simply close my eyes and catch up on some zzz’s. Using the train means that I can pay a small fee for a ticket instead of breaking my bank for gas, and simultaneously save the environment by reducing my carbon footprint. Once at my station, I have the opportunity to stretch my legs and take in some local sights as I walk to my final destination. By using the train I know I am traveling cheaply, reducing carbon emissions, and minimizing reliance on diminishing oil supplies.
Before you make your next travel plans, remember to think about what environmentally friendly actions you can take so that we may always have a reason to travel. We need to maintain a clean world in order to have healthy friends and family to visit and breathtaking, pure landscapes to see.