Considering that the average car emits 4.6 tons of carbon dioxide every year, transportation (that’s 21.3% of the total 21.6 tons of carbon dioxide emitted annually by a daily commuter) it’s a big part of the American carbon footprint. Global greenhouse gas emissions from travel increased 3.4% in 2018. Let’s chat about some alternatives:
Consider purchasing an electric car. The market is expanding rapidly and these new vehicles are becoming more affordable by the minute. Even though they still have a big environmental impact in the manufacturing process, they can be run on renewable energy sources. Emma’s parents both only own electric cars and enjoy them greatly! It is quite an investment and a bit of a lifestyle modification, but if you have the means, it is a wonderful change to make.
If a new car isn’t in your budget at the moment, consider driving slower to save on fuel and carpooling when possible. Look for local ridesharing options, like San Francisco’s Casual Carpool.
For those who don’t own a car, Lyft committed in September 2018 to being completely carbon neutral by purchasing carbon offset credits to account for emissions from all Lyft rides. By the end of 2020, Lyft has promised to have 50% of all its rides be shared, meaning multiple customers carpooling together.
Air travel is highly carbon intensive and 2% of global greenhouse gases released in 2018 was due to air travel, but there are ways to minimize your carbon emissions. When flying is necessary, save the money and fly economy class. It’s like public transit for air travel, more people sharing the same amount of carbon emissions. Delta Airlines offers customers the opportunity to voluntarily offset the carbon emissions from their flights with and donate airline miles to the Nature Conservancy.
In December 2018, California became the first state to mandate that, starting in 2029, all public California buses be electric purchased must be electric! San Francisco proudly offers the largest US fleet of zero-emission electric trolley trains. Like their trolley trains, the city’s light rails, street cars, and cable cars are also powered by local hydroelectric power. In May 2018, San Francisco pledged to have only electric buses by 2035. Fun fact from SFMTA, “Muni carries 26 percent of all trips in the city, but accounts for less than two percent of these emissions.”
Find out what forms of public transit are available near you, and see if you can commit to taking the bus or train to work at least once a week. When considering a move, look into the public transit available and try to find a place near a major bus or train line. You want to make it as convenient as possible to skip driving.
Public transportation is a key part of living in most major cities. It’s a critical way to move large numbers of people around in a small space in an efficient amount of time. Use your vote and your transportation budget dollars to show your public officials that you value less harmful modes of transportation.
Biking, Scooting, Walking, etc.
The best option is to live close to where you work and spend your time. For some exercise and vitamin D, buy a used bike off Craigslist or a shared bike, like JUMP Bikes, and ride it to your destination. In urban settings, it has been shown that bikes are actually faster and expose riders to fewer emissions than cars. Other similar zero-emission options include walking, scooting, and rollerblading.
Shared electric scooters, like Lime-S or JUMP Scooters, are good options for getting around locally too! Most cities are working to become more bike-friendly by improving and adding to their bike lanes, just make sure to wear your helmet and other safety gear.
Emma bikes most places in her small town of Walla Walla, WA. Since it’s a small town with few hills, it’s pretty easy to get around on a bike (although the winter months can be brutal!) She is also hoping (within the next few years) to either sell her car and save for an electric one, or just own one car with her boyfriend. Sharing a car with a significant other cuts back on emissions. It takes some careful planning, but with bikes and public transportation, it’s definitely possible!
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