So we’re maintaining social distance on the road, living in an RV and experiencing America’s great outdoors. It struck me, can we be as environmentally responsible as we are at home, and what is this trip doing to our carbon footprint?

Well, before we started on the trip, we revisited the 5 R’s of zero waste: Refuse what we don’t need, Reduce to packing only what we do. Reuse & Recycle – even at home, we only use reusable bottles and bags. 

Rot – we have a great compost solution at home, but it’s tougher on the road. Still, we’re committed, so we’ve got an airtight container and are finding local drop-off points. Worst case, we’re alone out here in nature – we can dig a foot deep and bury, being extra careful we haven’t missed any stickers.

That said, what’s our carbon footprint on this trip? We used Google maps to route the trip, which tells us we’ll be traveling 5,655mi total. Then I used a carbon footprint calculator, working out our roadtrip footprint. Looks like we’ll be responsible for 2-3 metric tons of emissions… yikes. For perspective, the average American is responsible for 14.95 tons per year. Meanwhile, the average Chinese is responsible for 6.57t and the average Indian for 1.57t. 

Here’s a different view of emissions by country vs. by person:

All quite sobering. Feeling more committed than ever, I looked into ways we can offset our footprint. Turns out, a regular hardwood tree absorbs ~48lbs of CO2/yr. Since one ton = 2000lbs, it looks like I’d have to plant 100 trees. OK… moving on. Researching ways to purchase carbon offsets or credits, I found this site ( After some more research, our family has decided to invest in sustainable travel international. Suits our project and lifestyle quite well.

Do any of you invest in carbon offsets? Which do you use? 

If this space is new to you, check out one of these free calculators to quantify your own carbon footprint.

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