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Summer Vacation

Why It Matters

Traveling for a family vacation can often result in more carbon emissions that an entire year’s worth of weekday commuting! In 2006, 124 million Americans took a vacation and traveled an average of 1,200 miles. Taking that trip by rail results in an estimated carbon footprint of 500 pounds CO2 per person; flying economy class results in a carbon footprint of about 600 pounds CO2 per person; while taking a large SUV can result in a carbon footprint of over 1,200 pounds per person. If all 2006 American vacationers took a non-stop economy flight instead of driving their SUV, they would save a collective 37 million TONS of CO2 emissions. There’s no need to cancel your summer vacation for the sake of being green, but exploring your travel options can go a long way towards reducing the environmental impact of your vacation.

Top 5 Tips for a Green Summer Vacation

  1. Offset your flight(s) or drive. Visit carbonfund.org/individuals, choose "Use Our Calculators," and then select Event/Wedding to calculate and offset your travel and hotel footprints.

  2. Unplug. Unplug electronics when you leave, and turn back your thermostat (try setting it to 80) to reduce wasted electricity use.

  3. Green your grill. Choose gas, propane, or electric over charcoal where possible because they burn more cleanly and efficiently; if using a traditional grill, try to find an all-natural product instead of charcoal.

  4. Ditch disposables. Carry a reusable water bottle instead of buying single-use plastic bottles, and try to bring reusable plates and cups to your picnic lunch at the park or on the beach; if you must use disposables, try to find ones that are compostable or made of recycled/recyclable materials.

  5. Green your hotel stay. Cut down on your water and electricity use at your hotel by opting to have your sheets and towels washed every 2-3 days instead of every single day.

Digging Deeper

Read tips for green travel.

Get EWG's guide to safe sunscreens.

Learn how carbon offsets work.