Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on July 18, 2009 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Carbon dioxide is produced by burning fuel and is actually one of the main greenhouse gases that have become single handily responsible for global warming. Every type of major transportation, such as a car, a plane or a bus, requires fuel to be burned in order for it to run. Every day, millions of American is using over 380 million gallons of gasoline; and nearly 20 pounds of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere that we breathe for every gallon of gasoline that is burned. If you think this through carefully you will come to the realization that the average American car drives approximately 12,500 miles pet year, which equals out to be about a pound of carbon dioxide that is emitted per mile, which, in turn, works out to be 11,450 pounds per year. This is roughly the amount needed to fill up an Olympic sized swimming pool.
Besides driving, Americans also love to fly a lot too. In fact, more than 500 million airplane trips are experienced by Americans every year. The carbon print of an airplane ride can be more difficult to estimate. This is due to each plane trip varying in length – an airplane will burn more fuel during its take off than when it is cruising at an altitude of 30,000 feet. Other factors that hinder the calculation of carbon dioxide emissions are the type of airplane and the amount of passengers on board. Generally speaking, however, a round trip flight taking off in New York and landing in Chicago would result in almost 650 pounds in carbon dioxide emissions and a return flight that lasts the whole length of the US can produce nearly 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide.
With all these numbers you might feel that cutting back on your family’s carbon print is hard, but this is not the case at all! One of the easiest ways to cut back on carbon dioxide emissions is to leave your car parked in the garage and walk everywhere that you can. Walking, or even riding a bicycle, is not only good for the planet; it is also good for your health as well.
If you do have to drive your car, then think about your trip before hand and chose the shortest route possible. Combining all your errands into one trip will not only save on carbon dioxide emissions, but will save you gas time as well.
Another great alternative is to use your city’s public transportation whenever possible. Riding the bus to work can be quite a relaxing experience, especially when you realize that someone else is watching the traffic. Just don’t forget to bring a good book with you to read or some nice music on your iPod to listen to.
If none of these options seem to work for you and your family and driving your motor vehicle is the only transportation that you have, don’t despair – there are plenty of other great tips that you can follow to not only save you gas money but also to help your cat get better gas mileage, all while reducing your car’s carbon footprint.
An easy tip to remember is to bring your car in for a service at regularly scheduled intervals. This will help keep your car running its best at all times. Next, routinely check your car’s tire pressure and make sure it is within the limit set out by the manufacturer (usually there is a sticker with this information either on gas cap lid or on driver’s door frame). Keeping the tire pressure constant and within the correct limit can help you save nearly 4% on your gas bill, and, remember burning less gas means that less carbon dioxide is produced too.
If you are in the market for a new vehicle, you should consider purchasing one of the new eco-friendly crossover SUVs. These vehicles are designed to get better mileage than other vehicles of the same size. Another choice is buying a hybrid car or one that runs off of clean diesel such as Ethanol 85. No matter what you choose, make sure that buying such a vehicle will actually save you money in the long run and not just immediately.
If long distance travel is something that is looming in your future, try to take the train instead! Train rides are better for the environment and a lot more fun. But, if flying is truly the only way for you to travel, then you can always add a carbon offset amount to your airline ticket.
Photo Credit: Maria Keays
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan