Green is for go

You want to hit the road - but you've got a conscience. It's not easy but it is possible. Sean O'Grady offers a few sensible alternatives

The only truly environmentally friendly vacation, let us be honest, is one that is taken entirely on foot or by bicycle. That, however, is somewhat limiting, and doesn't widen your horizons very much even if you include a journey by (non-air) public transport.

In other words, it pretty much takes you back to the original Thomas Cook era of holidaymaking. His first excursions, if you recall, were from Leicester to elsewhere in Leicestershire. Unless you really dig Loughborough (and I do, as it happens) you'll have to make some compromises with your conscience. The good news is that there are ways that you can genuinely become kinder and gentler to the planet when taking time out on the road.

What should you drive? If you don't already own a car (full marks for greenness) and need to hire one, then you ought to go for one of the more efficient, smaller diesel models, which return excellent fuel economy and lower carbon dioxide emissions. The Citroën C2 is especially good, if you can find one. If you've got a large family, then much the same applies to your hired people-carrier (maybe not such good marks for greenness). Always go for the one that has the lowest CO 2 emissions, details of which you can find in the car magazines or on the manufacturers' websites.

Generally speaking, if you can find a car that dumps less than 130g of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for every kilometre it travels, you're not doing too badly.

If you already own a car then you might still consider hiring a greener one - if only to see what it's like. Small diesel hatchbacks now have as much room, performance and versatility as a large family saloon of a decade ago. Better still, run your little diesel on Biodiesel fuel, if you can find it (although it is plentiful in Scandinavia). I am leaving aside motorbikes here, perhaps unfairly.

Why not embrace truly green technology? You could get yourself an electric car, but they tend to have a limited range and only make much sense as urban transport. LPG and natural gas-powered cars are compromised by a lack of filling stations. The most practical proposition is one of the new hybrid vehicles. These combine a petrol engine with an electric motor and store the power that is normally wasted by an internal combustion engine (when braking, for example), to use later on.

Models such as the Honda Civic IMA and Toyota Prius offer good economy as well, although they are more expensive to buy than their nearest equivalents. They are on a few hire fleets. Avis will let you have one if you happen to be in Portugal, and Enterprise has a few Priuses in the UK. Avis offers a scheme whereby customers can offset their carbon emissions by taking part in green projects. Hertz doesn't offer much that's green.

Where should you go? Not that far away. If the choice is between taking a flight or driving round Britain or Europe (getting there by ferry) it's a no-brainer. Your jet will have expended far more fuel than you could manage even with the most exuberant driving. According to Friends of the Earth, even if you fly only once a year you can generate a significant amount of greenhouse pollution - a passenger taking a long-haul return flight from the UK to the US can produce as much carbon dioxide as a motorist driving in the UK for a year (one heck of a touring holiday!).

For a typical journey of less than 500km, air travel comes off worst: the amount of CO 2 produced per passenger is 0.17kg/km for air travel; 0.14kg/km for travel by car; 0.052kg/km for rail; and 0.047kg/km by boat (ferry). If you're one of those people who hates cars but can't resist a cheap flight, those stats ought to make you examine your holiday plans.

The other points concerning driving destinations are fairly obvious; avoid congested places such as the Lake District, Cornwall, London and Oxford - and please don't go off-road, even where you're allowed to. Those SUVs and trail bikes have made a terrible mess of some bits of our countryside.

The last question is the one that is least asked: how to drive? Slowly - you want to enjoy the view. Simply stick to speed limits, avoid sharp acceleration and braking, turn off the air-conditioning and use the cruise control, if you have one. Plan your journey and buy a sat-nav device that might stop you wasting time and fuel getting lost.

Alternatively, you could just go by train or coach and plug your PlayStation 2 loaded with a Gran Turismo 4 game into the TV in your room. That way you can enjoy all the thrills of the rally or race circuit and save the planet.

Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
    World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

    Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

    The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
    Why the league system no longer measures up

    League system no longer measures up

    Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
    Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

    Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

    Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
    Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness