Sustainablility tip: Read this before you drive out to see leaves change color this fall | VailDaily.com

Sustainablility tip: Read this before you drive out to see leaves change color this fall

The leaves will drop soon, so enjoy them while they are still displaying color, but make sure to keep the planet in mind while you're out.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

Did you know that aspen leaves have timers that are triggered by the changing seasons? In fall, the days get shorter and the nights get longer and cooler. The weather shift signified by the fall equinox signals aspen leaves to stop making sugars and chlorophyll and give their production back to the tree. As the leaves stop producing, they change colors and fall to the ground.

The aspen trees of the Rocky Mountains offer some of the best fall color sight-seeing options in the country. Many of Colorado’s high mountain roads see an increase in traffic because of all the people trying to see the colors and get in touch with nature. But while it’s fun to see all the colors, it’s important to also reduce the environmental impact of driving to see colors.

For example, research done by Walking Mountains’ Climate Action Collaborative found that having properly-inflated tires can save up to 10 cents per gallon of gasoline. That in turn saves 1.3 pounds of C02 per day from being expelled into the atmosphere. This may not seem like much, but with all of the added traffic on mountain roads, it adds up quickly.

Here are three tips to see fall leaf colors while still being green.

1. Stay local: If you live in Eagle County, you don’t have to travel to see fall’s colors. Eagle County’s amazing landscape offers all kinds of hiking opportunities to see fall colors.

2. Be prepared: Make sure you’re up-to-date on vehicle maintenance and that your tires are properly inflated. Bring along your zero-waste traveling kit to avoid single-use items such as plastic cups and silverware.

3. Carpool: Share your experience with family and friends, and reduce emissions by teaming up and carpooling.

Stephen Beane is an Actively Green intern at Walking Mountains Science Center. Contact him at stephenb@walkingmountains.org.