GOOD

How to Green Your Holiday Travel

I've come to think of getting to Christmas as another part of the season's indulgence. But there are ways to get home and hold onto green principles.


Each of the past three years, I've made the environmentally irresponsible choice to drive to Michigan for Christmas. I'm a relative newbie to Christmas: Growing up, my family celebrated more Jewish Christmases, with Chinese food and a movie, than we did traditional Christmases with the Catholic side of the family. The Christmas I celebrate now, with my boyfriend's family, is full of wonderful indulgences: cookies and wine and piles of wrapping paper and a Christmas lamb roast. While I wouldn't give any of that up, I've come to think of getting there as another part of the season's indulgence. The drive from New York to Ann Arbor takes 10 hours and burns multiple tanks of gas, which, as a city dweller, I don't do very often.

I've heard rumors of hardy souls who turn down a ticket home for the holidays in order to keep their carbon footprint low. But no one I know can resist the lure of family (or, alternately, the pressure of parentally induced guilt), whether they're headed for a fireside Christmas at home or a nondenominational bake in the sun in Mexico. Without practicing extreme self-denial, though, there are ways to indulge in a holiday getaway—no matter what mode of transportation you're using—and still hold onto the green principles you abide by the other 11 months of the year.

Planes. A handful of airlines have made the switch from jet fuels to biofuels, the best green option for air travel, but biofueled commercial flights are still a rarity. If your holiday plans include European travel, KLM has some flights on its Amsterdam-Paris route that burn a biofuel blend, and Lufthansa uses biosynthetic kerosene on its Frankfurt-Hamburg service. For most trips, though, the greenest flight is the most direct one. Because it takes more energy to get a plane into the air than to keep it there, every takeoff and landing increases the carbon footprint of a plane trip.


Trains. Train travelers eat up less energy than almost anyone else on their way home. The biggest caveat here: trains with sleeper cars use more energy per passenger than those with seats, since more people can squish into a train car sitting up than lying down. If you’re taking a late-night or overnight train and want to be extra virtuous, choose a train where everyone’s snoozing on the shoulders of their seatmates.

Automobiles. Per mile traveled, cars are one of the least green ways to get where you’re going. But there are ways to make a road trip greener. When renting a car, don’t opt for an SUV just because that’s the car the rental agent offers. Ask for the most fuel-efficient vehicle the rental agency has available. Whether driving a rental or not, chill out and slow down: speeding up to red lights and going way over the speed limit wastes gas. And get cozy with your loved ones. Carpool with relatives headed to the same destination.

Photo courtesy of Currier and Ives

Articles
Ottawa Humane Society / Flickr

The Trump Administration won't be remembered for being kind to animals.

In 2018, it launched a new effort to reinstate cruel hunting practices in Alaska that had been outlawed under Obama. Hunters will be able to shoot hibernating bear cubs, murder wolf and coyote cubs while in their dens, and use dogs to hunt black bears.

Efforts to end animal cruelty by the USDA have been curtailed as well. In 2016, under the Obama Administration, the USDA issued 4,944 animal welfare citations, in two years the numbers dropped to just 1,716.

Keep Reading Show less
Science
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics

There is no shortage of proposals from the, um, what's the word for it… huge, group of Democratic presidential candidates this year. But one may stand out from the pack as being not just bold but also necessary; during a CNN town hall about climate change Andrew Yang proposed a "green amendment" to the constitution.

Keep Reading Show less
test
Me Too Kit

The creator of the Me Too kit — an at home rape kit that has yet to hit the market — has come under fire as sexual assault advocates argue the kit is dangerous and misleading for women.

The kit is marketed as "the first ever at home kit for commercial use," according to the company's website. "Your experience. Your kit. Your story. Your life. Your choice. Every survivor has a story, every survivor has a voice." Customers will soon be able order one of the DIY kits in order to collect evidence "within the confines of the survivor's chosen place of safety" after an assault.

"With MeToo Kit, we are able to collect DNA samples and other tissues, which upon testing can provide the necessary time-sensitive evidence required in a court of law to identify a sexual predator's involvement with sexual assault," according to the website.

Keep Reading Show less
Health