Tips for Going Green in Florida

By Lauren Tjaden

Florida prompts dreams of white sands soft on your bare toes and the sound of incoming surf – both blessed by bright sun. There are pelicans riding the sea breeze. And dolphins appearing and disappearing.

Nature and the outdoors are fundamental parts of the Sunshine State and its appeal. Here are tips about how to make your travel to Florida mindful, green and eco-friendly, so tomorrow’s visitors can enjoy it as much as you do today.


The flight you book to Florida is an important part of a green getaway.

One of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to book a nonstop flight whenever possible because nonstops use the least amount of fuel. One-quarter of airplane emissions come from landing and taking off, which includes taxiing.

flying coach is better for the planet than flying business or first-class. Why? Economy seats are smaller, so more people get moved by the same amount of fuel. How much difference that makes is surprising: A study from the World Bank estimates that a first-class seat could have a carbon footprint as much as nine times as big as a seat in economy.

Buying carbon offsets is a way to compensate for the planet-warming carbon dioxide you’re creating with “carbon repair” elsewhere. An offset might focus on replanting trees, investing in renewable energy resources, or other ways to help Mother Nature stay healthy. Airlines that offer offsets include Delta, United and JetBlueas well as other organizations like terrace pass and Climate Futuresbased in Miami.

pack light. You may need more than a swimsuit and flip-flops but, hey, you’re going to Florida, not the Arctic. A lighter load cuts fuel consumption and less the environmental impact.

When you land at a warm destination such as Orlando or Miami, lower your window shade while you’re on the plane headed to the terminal. It helps to keep the aircraft cool while saving energy—and when all the passengers do it, it can really add up, lowering the temperature by as much as 10 degrees.

Choose a newer, more fuel efficient aircraft about an older one; for example, an Airbus A320 instead of a Boeing 757 for the same flight. Or you can simply check the fuel efficiency of the airlines you fly. Check out the most efficient domestic carriers on page four of this 44-page report.

finally, consider driving. While long-distance flying is more efficient than driving solo, those short trips, particularly with multiple passengers, may mean it’s better to drive.


if you’re driving your own gasoline- or diesel-powered car, you should make sure it’s running efficiently before you hit the highway. You can improve your gas mileage by more than 3 percent by keeping your tires correctly inflated – and they’ll last longer, too.

Another easy mileage-boosting strategy is using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oiland choosing a brand that says “Energy Conserving” on the API performance symbol.

Check your air filter. According to the US Department of Energy, replacing an old, congested filter can improve your car’s gas mileage by as much as 10 percent.

a tune up can improve your vehicle’s gas mileage by about 4 percent, particularly if it’s knocking, stalling, or hesitating. Replacing a faulty oxygen sensor can improve gas mileage up to 40 percent – ​​something that will make you, and your wallet, feel better.

Charging stations: If you’re driving to or within Florida in an electric or hybrid vehicle, you can plot your course for charging stations on Plugshare.

If you’re renting a car, consider an electric or hybrid. offers the sporty Toyota Prius Hybrid, with a city/highway rating of 55 mpg, as well as the Nissan Altima hybrid. Altima’s engine is a full hybrid capable of driving at low speeds solely on its electric motor, reserving the gas engine for higher speeds. A single tank of gas yields 42 mpg and more than 700 miles of city driving. Check out the resource guide for green rental options.

Mindful packing tips apply whether you’re in a rental or behind the wheel of your own car. A hundred pounds of weight cuts a typical car’s fuel economy 1 to 2 percent. And using your trunk to store luggage instead of loading up your roof rack will increase your mileage by as much as 5 percent.

Gas mileage drops dramatically when you’re going faster than 60 mph; every five miles an hour over that speed is equivalent to paying an extra 10 cents a gallon. Sensible driving is another biggie: Aggressive acceleration and constant changes of speed can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and 5 percent in town. Using cruise control on the highway maintains a constant speed and, in most cases, saves gas.

Taking public transport is one of the most efficient ways to make your travel mindful.

Many Sunshine State cities provide affordable, easy ways to get around such as the Suncoast Beach Trolley, Tri-Railand Water Taxi. Check out the resource guide for a more complete list.

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