be cautious opening overhead compartments, shift happens.

"You're making me go to the bathroom before I board the plane? Wha? You're shitting me?"

Apparently not.

One airline company in Japan has started asking passengers to go to the toilet before boarding in an attempt to limit carbon emission and weight *. The airlines, All Nippon Airways (ANA) claims that empty bladders means lighter passengers, a lighter aircraft and lower fuel usage. ANA is stationing one airline staffer at the boarding gates to ask and remind passengers to "take care of business" before boarding. Over the course of 30 days, ANA is hoping that the weight saved will lead to a five-ton reduction in carbon emissions. If the airlines proves that their method is working in this 42 flight trial period (which began Oct. 1), they will extend this policy. Based on an average human bladder capacity of 15oz, if 150 passengers relieved themselves on board, this would amount to 63.7kg of waste. Really, this isn't a half bad idea. I'd rather go to the loo than pay an additional fee for my luggage. But, that makes my excuse of needing to the bathroom to check out the cute thing in 15F not as plausible.

Speaking of airlines, here are a few tips from the Sierra Club to help green your friendly skies.

Tip #1: Hand it Back

When your flight attendant hands you a napkin with your drink, politely decline it, explaining, if you like, that you'd prefer to save the paper. Even better, write to the airlines to urge them to train flight attendants to offer napkins rather than giving them without asking; point out that this can save untold numbers of trees, plus some corporate cash. To find contact information for your airline, go to this link and click on "Airline Consumer Contacts.

Tip #2: Ensure Recycling

Before giving your cup or can to the flight attendant collecting trash, ask if the plastic or aluminum will be recycled. If the answer is no (it usually is; see some amazing stats here), stash yours in your carry-on and dispose of it in the first recycling bin you see after you deplane. Later, call or write your airline’s customer-service department to urge them to implement a recycling program.

Tip #3: Lighten Your Luggage

The equation is simple: Heavier luggage burns more fuel. So if everyone leaves a little more at home, we’ll save immense amounts of emissions. (Incidentally, this is a good reason to lose body weight too.) And remember to get those liquids, gels, and aerosols out of your carry-on if they weigh more than 3 ounces; otherwise, they’ll end up in the landfill before their time.

Tip #4: Offset

This is the obvious tip for greening a plane flight. It's still controversial—some people view carbon offsetting as penance for an irrevocable sin already committed. But we (the Sierra Club) think it's better than nothing. If you're going to fly anyway, what's the harm in also funding renewable-energy projects and trees being planted?

So, you think that taking a cruise might be a better option that flying to your vacation destination? Think again. Cruise ships are a smorgasbord of waste. Like anyother ocean bound vessel, cruise ships affect both the water and the air with the waste it produces. First, there is an issue of bilge water, which collects in the lowest part of the ship and contains oil from leaky engines. Most of the time, ships will treat the bilge water before re-releasing it, but there have been cases of irresponsible ocean dumping in the past. Then, there are air pollutants that fly out of the smokestacks, Then, unlike smaller vessels, cruise ships carry thousands of passengers, each of which produces waste that can end up in the ocean. A recent EPA survey of Alaska operating boats reported that cruise boats produced an average of 21,000 gallons of sewage a day. Those ships also produce an average of 170,000 gallons of greywater, which has been known to carry detergents, oil, grease, and food waste which depletes the oxygen content of sea water.

What about carbon dioxide emissions? According to this article on Slate:

“Carnival Corp.'s latest environmental report (PDF), the company's ships emit 1.17 pounds of CO2 per passenger mile, assuming full occupancy. Industry statistics suggest that the most popular cruises last seven days and that the Caribbean is the No. 1 destination. So let's say you've decided to take Carnival's weeklong Western Caribbean cruise, which leaves from Miami and stops at Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Isla Roatan, Honduras; Belize; and Cozumel, Mexico, before returning to Florida—a total of 1,826.5 miles. Your personal emissions for the voyage—not counting any time spent on land—would thus come to 2,137 pounds of CO2, or just about a ton. In 2006, fossil fuel-related CO2 emissions in the United States were 21.8 tons per capita—or about 119.5 pounds per person per day. So a seven-day cruise produces about 18 days' worth of carbon dioxide. In contrast, a round-trip flight on a narrow-body jet from Miami to Grand Cayman would emit about 340 pounds of CO2, assuming an industry standard 80 percent occupancy.* That's a lot less than a cruise, but then, it's not an apples-to-apples comparison since a cruise ship provides transportation and accommodation and entertainment. Based on the Lantern's back-of-the-envelope calculations, though, the overall emissions would still be lower if you could keep your carbon footprint during your week in the Grand Cayman at less than double what it would be at home.”

If you’re planning on cruising sometime soon, you should check whether your boat comes equipped with an advanced wastewater-treatment system (PDF, not to be confused with the life vest known as PFD’s). You also might check if the ship can plus into local power grid systems when docked rather than continue to run it’s engines. Some cruise ship companies are also offering other environmental fixes, like green laundry facilities that re-use water from the air-conditioning systems to kitchens that serve local and sustainably sourced food.

As well, here is a handy little chart that rates the "greeness" of various cruise companies. Check it out.And... if you needed more reasons not to go on a cruise, check this video out.

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