Are We There Yet - Reducing The Carbon Footprint in Your Commute

If we drive down the cost of transportation through space, we can do great things.
— Elon Musk

Transportation is a big part of our lives.  When and how we get places soaks up a lot of mental bandwidth and time from each day and is one of the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions.  The good news?  If you know how, traveling smart can make a huge contribution in reducing your carbon footprint. 

  • Getting There is Half the Fun:  Have you ever been stuck in traffic and secretly cursed the city bus as it blew by you on the shoulder?  Or scowled as the crossing arms dropped and the commuter train rushed by?  Americans love their cars, but they are an expensive, and often slower way, of getting around especially in the city. Why not be one of those lucky souls zooming by on the bus or train and try public transportation?  Public buses can take up to 10 pounds of carbon out the air per trip and subways up to 20!  That’s a savings of nearly 37 million metric tons of carbon a year.  Plus, you can check your emails and texts while not also doing the driving!

For the average commuter, carpooling just once a week would reduce their carbon footprint by 1,882 pounds

  • Car Pools, Cycles, and Feet, Oh My!:  Maybe public transportation isn’t available or practical in your area, or maybe it’s just not your thing.  There’s likely still some other earth friendly ways to get around.
    • Car pools have been around since soon after Mr. Ford’s Model T came along but reached their heyday during the late 1970’s oil crisis.  Today, technology is bringing us a whole new era of ridesharing with sites such as Sidecar, Lyft and Zimride.  While the new options may still have some kinks to work out, ridesharing remains a viable alternative to reducing the number of cars on the road, and maybe making a friend or two in the bargain.
    • Whether motor or pedal, cycling is another way to get from A to B with lower carbon emissions.  Of course, the bicycle is the big winner with zero carbon output, so, if possible, that’s your best bet.  Taking your bike also gives you the added benefit of healthy exercise and no parking fees.  Besides, bike helmets are in this season.
    • Just think, not that long ago, historically speaking, our feet were the best, and often only, way of getting from here to there.  Walking is still a great way to get around, but admittedly is not always practical or possible for everyone.  If you can, take a look and see if there might be a way to work a little more foot power into your day. 
    • Making use of your own two feet is a great way to reduce your carbon, uh, footprint. 
  • One tread is better than two:  Planning out efficient routes for errands and other  trips in the car cuts down on time and energy used.  When possible, work out a route that allows for the fewest stops and least amount of driving time.  Good for the environment and less chances to have to give the death stare in the rear view mirror as your little darlings find new ways to antagonize each other. 

Take a moment and calculate the carbon footprint of your transportation habits!  Then, think of ways you can reduce that impact by incorporating alternative means of moving around our paleBLUEdot!


Photo: Stuart Richards via Flickr