How to off-set your motorcycle carbon footprint

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Offsetting Your Moto Carbon Emissions

As motorcyclists, we love to toddle the country and explore new places on two wheels.

There is a faction of riders who like to clock 20k, 30k and higher each year. There are even mileage contests one can enter and compete against other saddle-toughened riders. Compete within your local club, compete against club chapters across states, and so on.

Then there are rallies. Some are rather large. Sturgis, Americade, BMWMOA and others. One club member calculated that the average attendee for their rally this year will clock 1,000 miles traveling to and from the event. On a motorcycle that gets 35 mpg, each rider is estimated to produce on average 554 pounds of CO2. And his club expects 5,000 riders. That equates to 2.77 million pounds of CO2.

CarbonFund estimates the average American produces 50,000 pounds of CO 2 each year. So that little trip to the rally is nominal compared to our day-to-day lives. But every little bit counts.

On an individual level there are a number of things we can do to off-set carbon emissions. If we all pick one or two, it'll go a long way in balancing the scales of our moto passion. Here's a few ideas to consider.

1. Ride the bus, now and then - As my city becomes more and more congested, I find it simpler to ride the bus and avoid paying for parking downtown. I work from home, so going downtown isn't an everyday event for me. The cost works out to be the same as taking my vehicle. It's even cheaper when you calculate the savings in parking fees. And that bus is going there whether I'm on it or not.

2. Reduce air and cruise travel - This is a good one if you're a motorcyclist. Cutting back on air and cruise travel, two of the biggest producers of consumer carbon emissions, means you'll create more time to ride your motorcycle. And consider exploring the places closer to where you live. In the Pacific Northwest, I could spend an entire summer on the road exploring Oregon, Idaho, Washington, and B.C.

3. Get an electric vehicle - Today we have a lot of options. Cars, motorcycles, scooters, and even bicycles come in electric options. My electric bike has a 20-mile range on a single charge. Enough to get me downtown and back. And because most of the power my utility provides comes by way of wind or water, there's little in the way of carbon emissions getting it and getting it to me.

4. Revitalize your landscaping - If you've got a dead front lawn, consider re-landscaping with drought-resistant shrubs and trees native to the area where you live. Up here in the Pacific Northwest, developers are constantly tearing down greenery so a few new trees can't hurt one bit.

5. Purchase Carbon Offsets, annually - This one's pretty easy and you won't have to put your back into it. WikiHow provides a quick primer in how to buy Carbon Offsets. By doing so you're funding habit restoration projects.

6. Reduce your MPD on trips - Explore more - planning a motorcycle road trip? Consider adding more time into exploring area museums, sights and so on, and fewer miles per day. The motorcycle is a great way to explore, but you're no more of a hero by staying glued into the saddle all day, and you've been missing a lot if you've been doing that. Our Road Trip 2020 Grand Tour of the Cascades this year has an average miles per day equivalent of 150, not 500. There's a whole lot more to riding the Cascades Loop and beyond than just the roads.

7. Build in some off-bike days to your travel - Heading to a National Park soon? Plan a day or two to park your bike and instead hop on a bus tour. You're butt and back will no doubt appreciate the time away from the saddle and you won't find yourself constantly swinging a leg over saddle every time you stop for a gander.

8. Buy locally produced foods and beverages when possible - Here in the Pacific Northwest, we can't grow bananas, so this concept won't fly all the time. But we grow some other great fruits (apples, pears, cherries, berries), a plethora of wonderful vegetables and some awesome proteins like beef, poultry and, of course, seafood. New Zealand grows and ships a lot of lamb around the world. They can have it. In the PNW we have some excellent lamb that comes locally out of the Umpqua Valley in Oregon. It tastes better and I'm not paying for the excessive diesel fuel required to get it to America. Better grocers will note where their goods come from. For packaged foods, take a moment to read the label for origination. There are a lot of excellent PNW options of just about any packaged food you can think of.

9. Reduce your intake of meat protein - I'm a lover of red meat. Steak, prime rib, ribs. I love them. But enjoying them in moderation takes a load off greenhouse gases. A lot of greenhouse gases are created in growing the feed, moving the cattle around, and getting them to market. So you need some substance in your diet? We all do. Some things like falafel, hummus, and a number of beans and nuts will up your protein game to the point where you won't miss meat so much.

10. Evaluate all your electrical things in the home - If you live in an area that derives part of its electricity from coal and other dirty means, you should re-evaluate all your electrics in the home. Even if your utility is mostly green, you can save a lot of money by… upgrading the entire home to LED lighting, updating old appliances, weather proofing your home better, and buying green power switches that put certain things like TVs to full off, rather than standby.

Pick a few, roll with them and feel better about cranking those xxx pounds of carbon into the air to get to the next interstate rally.

Patrick Thomas/April 2020

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