The nearest place to catch a train is from the Amtrak station in neighboring Columbia. A mere 12.6 miles from Bicycle City, Amtrak may be one of the most environmentally responsible choices for long distance travel. The company makes sincere efforts to “green“its operation, and claims that travel by train contributes much less to global warming (per passenger mile) than does travel by mode of airplane or automobile.
Through an organization called CarbonFund.org, Amtrak provides customers with the option of offsetting carbon emissions produced by their travels. With this carbon offsetting process, a customer will donate money to CarbonFund.org based on a set of simple calculations conducted by the online Rail Calculator. The calculator adds up the mileage and the amount of carbon a trip emits, and determines the appropriate offset cost. For instance, if a person were to make a roundtrip journey from Columbia to New York their results would be:
Carbon offsetting is a process that is extremely easy, affordable, and worthwhile. The money donated to CarbonFund.org is distributed to certified organizations that plant trees, build wind turbines, and work on other environmentally beneficial projects that help to compensate for the carbon emitted by others’ travels.
On its website, Amtrak also commits to protecting the environment by recycling waste and reusing materials. Recycling receptacles are located on the trains’ coaches and in many of their large stations, and materials such as batteries, scrap metal, and used oil are recycled by Amtrak’s Mechanical and Engineering facilities. The company reports that it recycles more than five tons of paper, cans, and bottles each month, and in 2008 alone was able to recycle 9,800 tons of steel.