This Or That? Sustainability Trade-offs: Travel Edition

Are you an eco-conscious traveler unsure whether you should fly across the country or road-trip it on your next big adventure? Making the best environmental choice isn’t always obvious! So, after investigating some sustainability dilemmas for the home, we decided to look into some of your most pressing travel concerns.

Fly or drive?

Dilemma: Summer is coming up, and boy do you have plans. Vegas, San Fran, New York…it’s all on the table! Do you fly or drive to your destination?

Solution: Up to you!

According to NPR, experts say that aircraft are a small but significant source of greenhouse gas emissions created by mankind, accounting for about 3% of the world’s totals.

Depending on your trip, a car can be more green-friendly, especially if travelers carpool, use a fuel-efficient vehicle or if the trip is a shorter distance (rather than cross-country.) Now that airlines are more attentive to the capacity of their planes, data is showing that plane-travel can be more energy efficient than travel-by-car. Read more here.

And if you are a Green Mountain Energy customer residing in Texas and decide to drive, you can offset your carbon emissions and support carbon reduction projects with Green Mountain® Driver.

Fly direct or layover?

Dilemma: Your 2-stop flights are $100 cheaper than direct. But which option creates more emissions?

Solution: Non-stop flights are exponentially better for the environment – 50% of carbon emissions come from takeoff and landing! A direct flight also saves time. Otherwise, you waste time and fuel flying for hours in the wrong direction and back again. By flying to mega-hub airports, aircraft consume 10% more fuel circling around a busy airport waiting to land.

Home sharing or hotel accommodations?

Dilemma: You are going on the vacation-of-the-year. It’s time to book the hotel, jump on the beds and collect all those fun mini-shower gels and shampoo bottles. Or, should you take a chance and use a home-sharing service such as Airbnb?

Solution: Airbnb produced a study on the economic and environmental impacts of home sharing in cities around the world. The study found that the environmental benefits of home-sharing far outweigh the impacts of travel, including far less chemical use, less waste, water and energy as well as greenhouse gas emissions. Travelers were also more likely to bike, walk or use public transportation.

From my own personal experience, on my last trip to Key West, I stayed on the island, rode a bike everywhere and treated the house like my home – recycling efforts included – which is more environmentally-conscious than what I would do at a hotel.