This is how much your vacation costs, in trees

Real environmentalists take the bus.

Trees needed for carbon
Depending on how you go, that road trip or jet plane could require a veritable forest of trees to offset. So we calculated just that.Illustration by Lucy Engelman

When you road-trip to Disney or jet first class across the country, you feel the sucker punch to your savings. Appre­ci­ating how it impacts the planet is more abstract. So we represented the carbon cost of a solo 1,700-mile trip from Chicago to L.A. as the area of trees needed to counteract it. (For reference, a sapling can eat up to 50 pounds of CO2 each year.) Depending on how you go, offsetting a trip could require a veritable forest.

  1. Car—Electric, power from wind: 0 lb. of CO2
  2. Coach Bus: 289 lb. of CO2
  3. Car—Electric, power from oil: 549 lb. of CO2
  4. Train: 629 lb. of CO2
  5. Plane—Economy class: 643 lb. of CO2
  6. Plane—First class: 1,286 lb. of CO2
  7. Car—Gas powered: 1,836 lb. of CO2
  8. Car—SUV: 2,363 lb. of CO2

Source: UCS green travel report, 2008; European Commission Well-to-wheels report

This article was originally published in the Spring 2019 Transportation issue of Popular Science.