Ask Earth Steward: Transportation |

Ask Earth Steward: Transportation

High Country Conservation Center
High Country Conservation Center

The modes of transportation we use, especially driving, take a toll on the health of our environment. Luckily, there is a growing number of cars and alternatives that will hopefully help alleviate the use of nonrenewable resources to power our lives.

Hybrid gas-electric cars come to mind first because they utilize technology by running off of a rechargeable battery and fuel. It doesn’t have to be plugged in though, because the battery charges by recovering braking energy, and when braking energy isn’t present, internal combustion is used to recharge the battery.

Combining battery use and fuel means hybrids don’t pollute as much as regular gas-powered cars. The “National Average” carbon dioxide emissions for a passenger car in the U.S. is 10,899 pounds (lbs) per year.

When driving a 2006 Toyota Prius, those emissions decrease to 4,800 lbs of carbon dioxide per year; other gas and particulate emissions were considerably lower, too. The battery is helpful in that it allows the car to temporarily shut off when at a stop, that’s why they’re more efficient in city driving, and then come back on with a touch of the gas pedal.

Depending on if it’s being driven in the city or on the highway, a Toyota Prius can get 45-60 mpg. The increased fuel efficiency lessens emissions and saves money at the pump.

But while the fuel efficiency of hybrids is great, they still require the use of a nonrenewable resource. So, I have suggestions for lessening emissions due to personal transportation.

The first suggestion is to carpool. Carpooling is great because you still get the convenience of riding in a comfy car, but you aren’t just using it for yourself. Plus, you might even get to know that person sitting next to you.

If you want to try a different alternative transportation step, consider taking a shuttle to the airport next time you travel. There are transportation services in Summit County that are going to take someone to the airport regardless, so jump in and then you won’t have to worry about navigating I-70.

There’s even a service in Vail called Green Limousine,, which runs it’s vehicles on biodiesel and serves organic snacks on board.

However, as the owner of Green Limousine points out, “Biodiesel isn’t the solution, but it’s a step on the way to the solution.”

We need to keep looking for more sustainable solutions in order to leave a cleaner planet for future generations and with methods of doing things that don’t require so much fossil fuel.

More technologies are being developed, such as all hydrogen-powered cars and diesel-electric hypercars ” check out page 79 of the book “World Changing: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century” on that one.

And while those technologies are being perfected, we need to remember the simple things, like carpooling, as mentioned above, and taking the bus.

The Summit Stage runs on different percentages of biodiesel blends depending on the season, is a wonderful example of a vehicle that is going where you’re going anyway and it’s free!

And, my personal favorite mode of transportation is to ride a bike. There’s something to be said about pedaling like crazy and coasting down a hill; it’s like a natural high that we all need to remember. It’s fun and can keep you in shape.

Really what the transportation issue comes down to is whatever vehicle you drive ” try to use it as little as possible by taking alternative methods.

Ride your bike, carpool or take the bus; then you can have pride in knowing you helped the air stay a little cleaner. Summit County is breathtaking and sometimes we all need that certain thing which slows our lives down enough that we actually stop and take a look around to appreciate the present beauty.

Eartha Steward is written by Carly Wier, Holly Loff, and Beth Orstad, consultants on all things eco and chic at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation in our mountain community. Eartha believes that you can walk gently on our planet, even if you’re wearing stylie shoes.

Submit questions to Eartha at with Ask Eartha as the subject or to High Country Conservation Center, PO Box 4506, Frisco, CO 80443.

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