Tayte Pollmann’s Tips for Eco-Friendly Road Trips

Tayte Pollmann’s articles are supported by American Trail Running Association corporate member Nike Trail Running. You can follow Tayte’s adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Road trips are a great way to get away for a trail running vacation, but it can often be harder to be eco-friendly when we’re away from home. On the road, we don’t always have the time to think about what’s best for the environment. With a little planning, however, you can easily make your road trips more eco-friendly. This past week, I took a trip to Moab, UT and Estes Park, CO and thought about ways to reduce my environmental impact along the way. Listed below are my top tips to plan your next eco-friendly trail running road trip.

The author and his friend Alejandro Venzor packed tamales for their adventures in Moab, UT.

Unplug Your Appliances
Before hitting the road, double check to make sure all necessary appliances are unplugged in your home. Toasters, coffee makers, TVs, chargers, game consoles all drain energy when left plugged in. Save money and energy by unplugging them before leaving on your road trip.

Fill Under-inflated Tires
It’s a good idea to check the air pressure in your car tires before leaving. Under-inflated tires require more energy to roll the same speed as properly inflated tires. You will reduce the amount of gas you use by making sure you tires are properly inflated.

Explore by Foot and Bike
Although driving might be necessary to get to your destinations, you can trade driving for biking and walking to further explore your destinations. Instead of driving around national parks or downtowns, try biking or walking. In my most recent trip to Moab, UT I discovered a beautiful biking path along the Colorado river that allowed me to access wonderful canyon hiking trails and Arches National Park from downtown Moab. Reduce your carbon-footprint by biking and walking whenever possible.

Bring and Prepare Your Food
Preparing your own food can help you avoid waste generated by takeout. Many restaurants or fast-foods serving takeout will provide plastic utensils, plastic cups and unnecessary waste to wrap or store foods and drinks. Consider packing foods that do not perish quickly, such as breads, nut butters, crackers, tortillas, rice cakes, muesli and certain fruits like apples and oranges. Bringing a cooler to store foods longer is another great option. Pack your own utensils, cloth napkins and bags to sort recycling and garbage so it is ready to be disposed of in proper bins. You will save money and reduce waste by preparing your own foods.

Avoid Plastic Water Bottles
Plastic water bottles are harmful to the environment, and it’s just as easy to stay hydrated by bringing your own water bottles and water filter. Parks, grocery stores, shops, campgrounds should all provide free water if you ask. Some water filters, such as the Lifestraw, even allow you to drink water directly out of rivers and lakes.

When Possible, Choose Camping Over Hotels
Camping in a tent or car is an eco-friendly and cost-effective form of lodging. Hotels use energy in the form heating, air conditioning, water, and provide luxuries many of us can do without for the duration of our trips. Consider living simply out of a tent or car for your trip and you will not only avoid the high costs of hotels, but you will also reduce your environmental impact.

[Editors note: looking for more eco-friendly “road” tripping inspiration? Read about Dakota Jones’ “Bike Tour for Climate” leading up to his victory at the 2018 Pikes Peak Marathon.] 

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