To be perfectly honest, when the idea of organizing a road trip as a means of transporting six Toronto mommy-bloggers to the BlogHer conference in Chicago at the end of this month first occurred to me, I was not thinking green.
I was thinking green 1966 Thunderbird convertible, top down, music blaring, hair whipping in the wind. I was thinking truck-stops and diners and cheap motels and really hot hitchhikers. I was thinking Thelma & Louise with all of the goodness of Brad Pitt in his youthful prime and none of the banditry or suicide. It wasn't until someone pointed out to me that a group road trip is a really environmentally-friendly way to travel that it occurred to me that the words 'green road trip' might be used to describe something other than a dash down the highway in that Thunderbird convertible.
This green road trip, as it happens, is going to look more like a soccer-mom outing gone astray than a romp down the road to feminine and feminist liberation, but still: it will be, I think, nonetheless life-changing, if only because we're going to learn something important. We're going to learn how really walk -- or, rather, drive -- our environmentalist talk.
We are, we road-trippers, wannabe environmentalists -- but we are also all frazzled moms for whom disposable diapers and individually-packaged juice boxes have been a godsend. We try to be good, environmentally conscious citizens whose children will grow up to be similarly conscientious, but it's not always easy. I travel by subway and bicycle instead of minivan, but I also use disposable diapers (which are, in my defense, recyclable in my municipality) and go through too many bottles of water when I could just re-use and re-fill. I use way too much water in the bath and shower and I've been known to stand with the refrigerator door open and stare intently at the contents in a vain effort to conjure up a sugar-free pecan pie (this, according to Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen's The Green Book, could be costing me up to $60 a year. Which is, I don't need to tell you, money better spent on pie, damn the calories.) And although I haven't actually taken a holiday since my daughter was born, I can tell you that my fantasy vacations don't involve the word 'green' so much as they do the words 'carbon-spewing private jet to Fiji.'
So although the prospect of a 'green' road trip has been exciting, it has also been somewhat daunting. Car-pooling by way of a hybrid SUV is straightforwardly green, especially when one compares it to flying, but what about our other choices? Will we be able to avoid Styrofoam cups and fast-food containers and individual potato chip bags when we're restricted to freeway convenience stops and rest areas and trying to beat traffic? Do we need to leave our flat-irons and hair-dryers behind? What is the cumulative environmental cost or benefit of six women sharing a motel bathroom (sharing towels -- good; six rounds of blow-drying hair -- bad)? Is picking up hot hitchhikers an environmentally sound practice?
It's an experiment, in other words, and like any worthwhile experiment it will be challenging. But, too, like any good experiment, it will be interesting and rewarding and we'll have learned something.
And we'll have had a pretty fantastically good time doing it.
To follow the Eco-Trippers road trip, check out here. Leave us your green travel tips, or tell us how you're making your summer vacation more eco-friendly, and you could win a copy of Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen's The Green Book: The Everyday Guide To Saving The Planet One Simple Step At A Time (a copy of which is already tucked into our travel bags for handy reference!) .