I occasionally have to travel to New York City from Boston for work.  I wondered which mode of travel has the largest carbon footprint.  The information I found is a little confusing.

Carbonfund.org offered the easiest method of calculating the trip.  For the flight, the carbon offset would cost $0.70.  For the train, $0.90.  (Yes, carbon offsets are really that low)  However, the flight brings me to LGA, which is outside the city, so I have to consider the car ride too.  The car trip would be about $0.08, if I did the calculation correct!

On Terrapass, the calculation was quite different.  The train was clearly the greener choice, using 155 lbs of carbon vs 264 lbs of carbon via a flight.  I’m not sure why the calculations are so different.

The was an interesting experiment, and I’m not 100% certain which mode of transportation has the lowest carbon footprint. In the end, I decided to take the train because it’s a much more pleasant experience these days.  I’m glad I learned how to purchase the carbon offsets, and realized they also fit into my budget.

8 replies
  1. Anonymous says:

    localfoodfight, I would recommend that instead of purchasing carbon offsets, try living more simply. Live close to work, don't live in a mega-house (300 square feet per person is more than enough), ride a bike to work (or take the bus or subway in the winter), ask yourself if you really need the vacations you go on, buy locally when you can, turn things off when you aren't using them, don't buy all the things the neighbors seem to have, don't buy the latest version of software, computers, TV's (wear things out before you replace them), donate used stuff to Goodwill….if you do everything you can to save carbon footprint in your daily life, you don't really need to worry about that rare train ride to NYC, and you will be amazed what happens to your bank account!

    I think it is hypocritical when you see these celebrities living the big life with 15,000 square foot houses and golf course-sized lawns and then thinking they are good to the planet because they pay some landowner in Brasil to keep him from cutting down his trees.

    Just live as simply as you can and don't bother with the guilt offsets.

  2. Laura E. Sanchez-Gonzalez says:

    I have a suggestion for you, I live in New York City, and actually very close to LGA, once you get to LGA you don't have to take a cab to get to Manhattan, you can take the subway, you basically have to take one bus to the nearest subway station, and from there take the subway, the totally trip will be 2.25 for the subway, and I think 2.25 more for the bus. I most of the time never take cabs unless is very late at night and I have to go back home by myself, this is city is very good about public transportation.


  3. Heather @ Gerber Days says:

    Whenever my husband and I go to a basketball game in the city, we like to take tracks! I feel better about it. 😉

    btw… I do a Simplify Today post every Wednesday about organizing, balance, and simplifying our lives. Your fabric softener post, reminded me of my fabric softener home remedy. Check it out! It's a really great tip I've been using for awhile. 😉

    Have a great evening!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Carbon footprint is such a stupid concept as is this whole global warming farce. Attacking the idea is like attacking religion.

    Here's a question for the Global Warming advocates: If science has long since proven the existence of several ice ages, why is it that people don't believe that temperatures are cyclical because of a multitude of reasons (e.g., cyclical solar activity)? The resources being wasted on questionable global warming science is out of whack with the real science.

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