The Greening of Rest Stations!

Multiple Occupancy Vehicle Parking Only - Sign at CT Service Area

We live about 200 miles from our nearest family, so a typical holiday for us involves driving that far each way. Before children, we would occasionally drive straight through, but really, I can’t go more than about 2 hours without stopping at a rest station. Now that we have three, we have gotten to know all the rest stations and service areas on our drive, and we’re very thankful for them. I’ve always thought that rest stations were places that with just a little effort could be somewhat greener – for example, a few recycle bins would be nice.

Today we were driving home when we decided to stop at the next rest area. As we pulled off the highway, we started to notice some changes.

Special Parking

Restricted for Low Emitting/Fuel Efficient Vehicles - Sign at CT Service AreaAs I was pulling off I realized that this was a station that had been closed for the past several years. We were pulling off because of an urgent restroom need, so I noticed immediately that all the most convenient spots were vacant – and had signs… The first few said “multiple occupancy vehicles only” Psych! That is us, all five of us! As I went to pull in to one closest to the door, it said “Reserved for low-emitting/fuel efficient vehicles” – oops, that’s not us until they come out with a hybrid minivan!

Now, are people going to buy a low-emitting vehicle, or carpool JUST because they get special parking at a rest area? No. However, it sends a message to everyone that the people that run this rest area, in this case, the State of Connecticut, values these things and wants to reward people that use fuel efficient vehicles or put several people in a car.

Solar panels

Next we notice a large array of solar panels on the roof above the gas pumps. We saw 96 panels that looked like 200W each, so about 19 kW – more than 4 times the size of our solar awning at home.

96 Solar Panels over CT Service Area
Special Parking Signs and
96 Solar Panels on this CT Service Area


Inside Recycling at CT Service Area

Recycling Bins outside CT Service AreaFinally! There were recycle bins outside and inside. We found recycling bins in the cafeteria area AND there were recycle bins in and around the parking lot. Picture this: between the rows of parked cars a sidewalk with trashcans and recycle bins. Imagine, wanting to get the trash out of your car and actually being able to recycle it!


Good To Go Organic and Natural food sign at CT Rest Area
Good To Go – Organic and Natural at Service Area in CT

Inside was an organic and natural food restaurant. We weren’t ready for a meal (unfortunately) so we didn’t investigate further, but just the thought that we could actually get healthy and organic food while road tripping was really exciting.

As we were pulling out Jon pointed out the matching solar panels on the rest area on the other side of the highway (also south facing). That rest area wasn’t open yet, but I’m very happy to know that it’s there and will be operational hopefully in time for our return trip.

This rest area is about an hour into our drive – or an hour from our destination – depending which way we’re headed, so it’s nice to know about this option. It also gives us all sorts of warm fuzzies to know that these features – solar panels, recycling, special parking for fuel efficient cars and organic food are either cost effective enough, or important enough to the organization that owns this rest area, to provide them to weary travelers like us!

Happy Greening!

Tell us in the comments: What features would you like to see in the rest areas you use?


  1. As more electric cars are bought, I think a station where you can plug your vehicle in to recharge would be great. I’ve nominated Green Lifestyle Consulting for a blog award, I hope you guys will accept.

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