Category: Travel

Saving Money and Environment in the Drive-Thru Lane

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There’s nothing more classically American than the drive-thru. Today, these havens of greasy fries, delicious burgers, and fast service have spread throughout the globe, with an estimated half million locations worldwide! Drive-thrus are beloved for their cheap food, service that gets you in and out in record time, 24-hours access, and convenient locations near highways, making them the ideal stopping points for road trips.

The rise of the drive-thru has allowed drivers around the world to turn their cars into second homes. After all, many people spend hours commuting in their cars every day, and eating meals from the drive-thru as well. Some studies estimate that the average driver will spend nearly 1800 hours of their lives eating in the car!

Drive-thrus have a long history, almost as long as the automobile itself. Drive-thrus began in the United States as drive-ins in the 1920’s. Drive-ins were restaurants where drivers could park in the lot, and be greeted by “carhops” (taken from hotel bellhops). The carhops would take their orders back to the restaurant, and bring the bags of food out to the lot. Customers would then sit in their cars and eat in the restaurant parking lot. You may still see carhops today if you visit a Sonic restaurant, where they bustle around on rollerskates!

From there, it was a natural evolution for restaurants to install to-go windows for drivers to order from cashiers directly, thus saving the time it took for carhops to travel from the kitchen to the parking lot. The Pig Stand restaurant in Los Angeles, California was one of the first restaurants to adopt the to-go window model in 1931, but the first true drive-thru wasn’t established until 1948. This was the first In N Out location in Baldwin Park, California. This In N Out had a brand-new intercom system (a very snazzy technology in those days) and a lack of seating both inside and out, making it a true drive-thru.

Interestingly enough, the same factors that led to the rise of the drive-thru in the early 20th century are the factors that are still most important to drivers today. However, as there is now such a wide variety of drive-thrus to choose from, franchisees and store owners have to live up to very strict standards in order to ensure customer satisfaction and repeat visitors. Basically, drivers want the easiest and most convenient drive-thru experience possible, and there are a variety of factors that go into achieving this.

A few of the most important factors are outlined below. Drivers want large, easy-to-read menus that make ordering as simple as possible. Most menus feature the more expensive combo meals in the center (in order to entice drivers to spend more!) and cheaper, a la carte options on the sides. Drivers also value food items that are easy to eat on-the-go, orders that are delivered accurately, drive-thru lanes that are easy to access via car, and the fastest service possible.

Take a look at the graphic below to learn which franchises are currently succeeding, and which need to improve. There’s also a variety of fun drive-thru facts you probably didn’t know! More information can be found here.

 

Please include attribution to CarRentals.com with this graphic.

The History of Drive-Thrus

Across America in an Electric Vehicle: 4 Routes Mapped for a Sustainable Drive

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The American love affair with the open road is unlike anything else — dating back to the beginnings of the horseless carriage. Simply put, we love our vehicles. They’re an extension of who we are an individual’s and a testament to the ingenuity of mankind. But over the years we’ve had to rethink the way road trips, commuting and leisure driving impact the environment. More now than ever there’s a focus on zero emissions and the looming concern of global warming.

Currently, transportation and power generation each account for about 30% of US greenhouse gas emissions, so those sectors represent a prime target for cutting American carbon pollution. Specifically, light-duty (passenger) vehicles, which account for 60% of those emissions and medium-heavy-duty trucks accounting for a further 23%. These emissions can be significantly reduced by transitioning from the internal combustion engine to electric vehicles (EVs).

Over the past couple years we’ve seen a significant uptick in the amount of EVs on the road. Electric cars have become a growing phenomenon throughout the United States, because they allow the opportunity to explore the country in comfort, in safety and without the guilt of creating a large carbon footprint. Of course, Teslas are a widely popular choice for those that can afford the high sticker price, but companies have realized that in order to move the needle on transportation emissions, it’s necessary to produce more cost affordable EVs. This is exactly why Elon Musk released Tesla patents for “good faith” use — stating “It is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis.”

So what does that mean for the drivers interested in purchasing or renting an electric vehicle? While we’re seeing more and more EVs on the road each day, there are still about seven times more gas stations than electric charging stations nationwide. But, the electric car revolution is prompting a change in the transportation infrastructure. Charging stations number existed in the hundred during the early 2000s. Fast forward 10-20 years and those number have skyrocketed to over 50,000 stations in 2018. Not to mention, California’s Governor, Jerry Brown signed legislation in 2018 that would allow for 250,000 EV chargers in the ground by 2025.

While California is leading the way in EV technology, other states are beginning to follow suit. More now than ever, it’s becoming incredibly accessible to make an extensive road trip in an electric vehicle, especially with resources like like Plugshare and the U.S. Department of Energy, which can be helpful in locating charging stations of all types and levels in your area. To top that off CarRentals put together this guide that highlights some of the most iconic road trips in the U.S. and how you can actually make them in an EV. These maps the include anchor stops, points of interest along the way, charging stations and tips for road tripping in an EV, so you’ll never be left with low battery.

Sustainable Motorways: Driving Our Future

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Smart motorways are enhanced stretches of motorways which include dynamic hard shoulders, fluctuating speed limits, monitoring sensors, and cameras. Britain, for example is one of the leading innovators when it comes to road management, with their system known as active traffic management. Even though the UK and a few other countries are implementing advancements to their roads, there is still room for  improvement with technologies such as drones, smart LED road studs, eco-friendly lighting and built-in sensors.

But in today’s world is smart is enough. We need our motorways to be sustainable and support our ever more sustainable cars, to help restore our planet.

Sustainable Motorways

Solar roadways seem to be a match made in heaven for electric vehicles. Substituting standard tarmac roads with extra durable solar panels is the main idea behind this technology. The panels, that would act like screens, displaying road signs, warning about lane closures, would also harvest solar energy. This captured energy would then be used to power both road signs and in-car items.

Another way to make roads sustainable is to build more “electric”roads. These  motorways, for example, would be equipped with an inductive charging system, such as in a phone charger. Thanks to the wireless charging technology that would be installed below the surface, they would create an electromagnetic field, which would be then transferred to receivers, directly powering running vehicles.

Some charging panels placed at bus depots in Milton Keynes are an example of this technology as they power electric buses overnight. Similar projects are considered for parking lots – if used on a larger scale, this would significantly reduce carbon emissions in our environment.

Making motorway maintenance more sustainable is key to lowering the need for manual labor, financing and being more eco-friendly in general. Researchers at Cambridge, Bath and Cardiff Universities may have found a solution in the form of  ‘self-healing concrete’. It is a concrete blend with added bacteria which produces limestone. When moisture enters a slit in the concrete it seals the crack before it gets the chance to widen.

Unfortunately, most of these ideas are being criticised and only a few are being currently implemented. Hopefully more and more of these, and other technologies them will actually happen in the future. As for now, we can only try to reduce our carbon footprint by changing our means of transport to a more sustainable one, be it an EV, public transport or a bike.

Image source: https://www.oponeo.co.uk/tyre-article/motorways-in-europe-and-the-uk

Beaches Where You Can Find Naturally Recycled Sea Glass

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Almost every person dreams of living along the beach and just soak up the sun and have fun. The scenery is beautiful. The weather is great. Other than the usual sand and water, some beaches have sea glasses all around. Sea glasses are naturally recycled glasses. The other type of glass recycling is done by companies, like glass recycling by Pace Glass or other recycling facilities. But, we are here to talk about nature’s way of recycling glass. The ocean turns used bottles or glasses into beautiful sea glass. If you want to hunt for sea glass, here is a list of beaches where you can find naturally recycled sea glass.

Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, CA

This Glass Beach is one of the best places to look for sea glass. It is located in Fort Bragg, California. This place was originally a water dump site. A lot of things were discarded here like glass bottles, appliances, and even cars. Throughout the years, the glass included in the waste turned into sea glass.

Imagine going to a beach. But, instead of sand, it is filled with sea glass instead. It is a magnificent view, to say the least. Different shapes and colors fill the shoreline. You can look around and touch all the sea glass around you. But, it is prohibited to take them out of the beach. It is still owned by the state.

Kauai Sea Glass Beach in Eleele, Hawaii

This sea glass is located in Eleele, Hawaii. This is an industrial area wherein the shores were used as dump sites for glass bottles and auto glass parts. After many decades, these glass parts turned into sea glass. Million of sea glass are mixed within the sand. Primary colors are brown, blue, and aqua. Other than the beautiful sea glass mixed in the sand, this is Hawaii. It has excellent sceneries and weather.

Spectacle Island in Boston, Massachusetts

This place is only a ferry ride away from Long Wharf in Boston. This island has exhibits, beaches, and a walking trail. A lot of people can do different fun things in this place. Most importantly, this place is known for their sea glass. Initially, just like other glass beaches, this place was a dump site for many decades. Some people even claim that the sea glass that is found here are over one hundred years old.

You do not have to worry about the time and tides when going here to look for sea glass. You can find sea glass from the shores to the riprap. But, management does not allow visitors to take home the sea glass found in this place. It is a policy to preserve the beauty of the Spectacle Island.

Davenport Beach, California

This beach is located just north of Santa Cruz. It is a small and hidden beach that is simply amazing. This is an excellent place for sea-glass collectors. This place came about because of a flood.

During the 1970s, a container filled with brown-glass trimmings was sent by a flood to the San Vicente Creek. Over the years, these glass trimmings turned into sea glass. Even though a lot of people have visited and taken a lot of sea glass, this is still one of the best places to look for the most beautiful sea glass available naturally. The best time to visit this place for sea-glass collecting is during low tides and after a rainstorm.

Natural wonder

Sea glass is definitely a natural wonder. It is amazing what time can do to things. What was once a piece of trash is now a beautiful gem that a lot of people would like to look at and take home. These are just some examples of glass beaches. There are even more places filled with these hidden gems. Travel and be on the lookout for these sea glasses.

How to Care for the Environment When You Travel

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Are you concerned about your environmental impact while travelling? There are many simple things you can do to take care of the environment on your travels. Going green may take a little effort at first, but with every trip you take, it will soon become second nature. Remember, you will have a greater travel experience knowing you left a positive impact on the place you are visiting. Below are few golden tips to make your next vacation more eco-friendly:

Visit Eco-Friendly Countries

As tourists become more environmentally conscious, ecotourism has become a serious priority in many parts of the world. If you want to visit a new country or landscape, look for destinations that have a reputation for being kind to the environment. Countries such as Iceland, Switzerland, New Zealand, Costa Rica, and Samoa are paving the way with ecotourism.

For example, Samoa offers a wide range of responsible tour operators. These tours encourage tourists to participate in fun Samoa activities like biking events, running races, snorkelling, and scuba diving without compromising the environment.

Stay at Eco-Friendly Accommodation

Making informed choices about where you stay is a key step in becoming a sustainable traveller. Instead of opting for the most appealing tourist hotel, prioritise finding good-quality accommodation that also works to protect the environment.

A growing number of hotels have begun to adopt eco-friendly practices such as recycling programs, energy efficient lighting and water conservation schemes. These hotels are making a positive difference for the environment, so it’s important to support them whenever possible.

Support Green Tour Companies

Like green hotels, many tour companies are taking an eco-friendly approach to tourism. Green tour companies aim to give visitors a fun travel experience while still caring for the environment and economy. Before booking a tour, do your research about the company’s environmental practices and ethics.

Walk, Bike or Take Public Transport

When exploring a new destination, reduce your carbon footprint by travelling via bus, bike or foot instead of a private car to minimise your environmental impact. Participating in local running races and exploring bike trails will also provide further opportunities to experience the culture at a slower pace and mix with the locals.

Pack Reusable Items 

It’s your responsibility as a sustainable traveller to be conscious of the products you use and dispose of. Avoiding the use of plastic is essential. Bring reusable shopping bags with you on your trip so that you don’t have to rely on plastic bags.

Strive to leave a positive impact on the place you are visiting.

Similarly, bring your own reusable water bottles and containers to avoid going through tonnes of plastic ones. Some cafes even let you bring your own re-reusable mugs, so take these with you as often as you can.

Reduce Your Energy Use

Minimising your everyday energy use is one of the easiest things you can do to protect the environment, yet is something so many travellers don’t bother to do. Simple practices such as avoiding long showers, turning off lights and unplugging electronics whenever you leave the room, and minimising your use of heating or air-conditioning can ensure a more eco-friendly travel experience.

If you’re not staying at an eco-friendly hotel, be extra vigilant about this. Treat the hotel like you would treat your home. For instance, ask yourself if it is really necessary to use the laundry and cleaning service every day. Ask the hotel to only wash your linens and towels when necessary, as you would at home. Every traveller who follows these small changes is making a real difference to the planet.

About the Author

Cloe Matheson is a freelance writer from Dunedin, New Zealand who enjoys traveling as much as she loves writing. She has produced articles for travel sites such as Active Asia after being captivated by the charm, color, and beauty of Cambodia last year. You can find more of her work here.

A Primer on Ecotourism

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Ecotourism has swiftly emerged as the fastest growing segment in the global tourism industry. The characteristic features of ecotourism include strong emphasis on resource conservation, environmental education, traveler responsibility and active community participation. Broadly speaking, ecotourism involves experiencing natural attractions, typically through outdoor activities which are sustainable in terms of their impact on the environment.

With growing concerns about climate change and global warming, the interest in ecofriendly and responsible tourism is rapidly growing across the world.  The ecotourism industry, which has been catalyzed by advancements in transportation and information technology, has brought hitherto unknown geographical landscapes into public limelight, thus bringing tourists to pristine natural locations in Asia, Europe, South America, Africa, Middle East and elsewhere.

Basic Ingredients

Ecotourism, also known as sustainable tourism or nature tourism, is characterized by strong focus on natural ecosystems, promotion of environmental ethics, preservation of natural resources, respect for local culture and environmental education of travelers.  The key attribute of ecotourism is to strike a fine balance between preserving natural environments with the needs of tourists. This special tourism industry holds great economic importance for developing countries having many natural attractions but limited resources to develop facilities for conventional tourism.

Ecotourism is witnessing growing popularity

Eco-tourists are given a first-hand understanding and experience of nature through guided walks, wildlife safaris, bird-watching, camping, star-gazing, hiking and related activities. Popular natural attractions include deserts, rainforests, woodlands, grasslands, wetlands, mountains, beaches and polar regions, in addition to unique life forms that inhabit these natural habitats (animals, birds, insects, plants and other organism).

Need for Caution

In the absence of proper management, planning and environmental education, the influx of tourists to ecologically-sensitive areas may be detrimental to the integrity of ecosystems and indigenous cultures. The management of ecotourism attractions is of great importance in order to prevent degradation of natural ecosystems which took millions of years to evolve.

It is also essential to restrict number of visitors to natural ecosystems, otherwise such attractions will swiftly lose their charm and beauty. Environment-friendly supporting facilities for visitor are also required in order to ensure minimal impact on the environment (e.g. composting toilets, recycled water, passive solar buildings and recycling stations).

For more information, please email Salman Zafar on salman@cleantechloops.com or salman@ecomena.org

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