Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Eco-Friendly Traverse Trip

I love summer road trips. And now that we have actually had a few days of summer weather it feels like we should be heading on our summer trips.  I'll be heading on my big road #TraverseTrip to San Diego in just two weeks. It will be a great road trip with 3 blogging girlfriends Karen, Nicole and Alexis to Blogher '11 - no juice boxes allowed.   We've had a few interesting reactions to our road trip... mostly words I can't repeat here about how long a drive it will be. 

Yes, it will be a long drive! But there are some real environmental benefits to driving - besides being a great road trip adventure with my girlfriends.  So besides discussing fashion and shopping along the road on Fashion Forward 40, I'm also going to see how we keep our road trip as environmentally friendly as possible.

Lets start with the biggie.  Driving compared to flying.  For those that don't love numbers I do apologize as the next part gets a bit like Grade 5 math. 

A few facts/assumptions:
  • Number of travellers - 4
  • Vehicle - Chevrolet Traverse which gets a fantastic 8.4 L/100 km highway fuel consumption rating.  For the sake of simplicity we used the highway rating for our calculations, but we know our actual consumption will vary, especially when we consider LA traffic.  I'll track fuel consumption and do a final assessment at the end of our trip.
  • Driving Distance - Assumed direct drive from downtown Vancouver to downtown San Diego.  I'll track our mileage and give a final assessment at the end of our trip.
  • Flight - Assumed direct flights from YVR to SAN.

A direct flight from Vancouver YVR to San Diego SAN return is 3,792 km (you can search distance between airports here  Thanks to my friends at Climate Smart, who helped me with the math, I know that a return flight equates to 1.13 tonnes CO2 equivalent.   When flying each passenger is assessed a portion of the total carbon for the flight, so we must multiply that number by the 4 passengers  Total 4.52  tonnes CO2 equivalent.


Driving from downtown Vancouver to downtown San Diego and back again is 4,494 km.   With our Traverse highway fuel consumption, we should use 377.5 litres of gas which equals 1.0 tonnes CO2 equivalent.  Since that is the total vehicle calculation, I don't need to multiple by the number of occupants. Total 1.0 tonnes CO2 equivalent.

That means we save 3.52 tonnes CO2 equivalent driving vs flying.  Which means driving is 22% of what flying would be.  Or in real terms that means:

CO2 emissions from 133 propane cylinders used for home barbeques
Photo credit - Tomswift46 via Flickr Creative Commons


Greenhouse gas emissions avoided by recycling 1.1 tons of waste instead of sending it to the landfill
Photo credit -  D'Arcy Norman via Flickr Creative Commons

Annual greenhouse gas emissions from .626 passenger vehicles - which would be like only driving your car 4.5 months of the year.

Other Considerations

So if we are taking an eco-road trip what else do we need to consider?   Well garbage is a big one. And use of disposable products is another.  I'll have more on our plans to reduce our garbage next week.

Would you consider driving instead of flying for a vacation to help reduce your carbon footprint?

Resources...  and

Disclosure: GM is providing us with a loaner Chevrolet Traverse and paying for our hotels and gas to travel to San Diego and back.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Tracey. I really liked the article. For long distance travel with a group it really is hard to beat a vehicle like the Traverse. I was fortunate to have access to one earlier this year to move people and promotional materials around Toronto. It was very nimble in traffic and surprisingly easy to drive in heavy city traffic. I'm looking forward to your updates. Remember to keep both hands on the wheel :)