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Davis, California

Saturday, May 18, 2024


What is the greenest way to head home for spring break?

As the quarter winds down, the impending doom of finals week has only one consolation – the glimmer of hope that is spring break. While you’ve probably yet to confront the logistics surrounding your return to the ol’ hometown (or perhaps your ill-advised jaunt to a MTV Spring Break location), it is important to consider the environmental impacts of your trek.

Thanks to a comprehensive study by Mikhail Chester and professor Arpad Horvath at UC Berkeley, it’s fairly easy to get an idea of the environmental impacts from most forms of transportation. For example, those of you planning on taking the train home this year, consider yourselves green warriors. Findings show that your train ride is a very responsible transportation choice (and excellent for your eco-karma). Caltrain, with a reasonable average of 155 passengers per train, produces less than half as many greenhouse gas emissions and particulate matter per passenger mile as opposed to driving your mom’s sedan home.

However, as with any green quandary, there are exceptions. An example would be riding a nearly empty train (or bus, for that matter) when you could have found a group of four local pals to accompany you in your sedan for the ride home. The two main variables to consider are how far you’re going and how many people you’re sharing your ride with (the shorter and more shared, the better).  That said, don’t beat yourself up too much about hopping on that 747 to get to your distant destination. Although planes have been shown to emit more greenhouse gasses than other types of transportation, this has much to do with the fact that we tend to use planes for longer trips (which require more emissions anyway).

Stay green, tree people.

Ask EPPC questions or tell us how to live green. Submit to margaret.link@gmail.com and win a green prize worth your effort.


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