One of the biggest factors contributing to your carbon footprint is the way you get around.Â Whether you are flying, driving, or even taking public transportation such as buses or trains, you inevitably contribute to the release of carbon dioxide into the air, a harmful global warming gas. Transportation sources account for about 29% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and is continuing to steadily grow as more and more people decide to travel by car and plane. All modes of transportation are not created equal, however, and there are greener ways for you to reduce your carbon footprint while commuting to work or going places.
The Cost of Transportation
Airplanes and cars pollute a lot more per person than other forms of public transportation.Â One gallon of gasoline is estimated to produce about twenty pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere while one gallon of diesel produces more than twenty two pounds. In fact, motor vehicles - that is cars, trucks, and buses- are responsible for almost a quarter of US carbon dioxide emissions every year. Air travel has an even bigger carbon footprint with the average round-trip flight across the U.S. emitting about 6,000 pounds of CO2, and short-haul flights emitting even more per mile. According to many scientists, 350 parts per million (ppm) is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere: we are already up to 392 ppm, and this number is rising by about 2 ppm every year!
Carbon Reduction Tips
But all hope is not lost. There are many eco-friendly ways to reduce your transportation impact while still being able to get around. In fact, some of these green tips are likely to make your commute more enjoyable as they will help improve your health and your social interaction.
1. Public Transportation and Carpooling
Choose public transportation or carpool in order to reduce the amount of CO2 emitted per person. You can save hundreds of pounds of CO2 a year by driving less since one pound of CO2 is produced for every mile driven. You can calculate your CO2 savings by using Public Transportationâ€™s Calculator.Â Also check out ride share sites such as ERideShare, Zimride and Carpool Connect to find others to commute green with.
2. Share A Car, Don't Own one
Use car sharing programs such as Zipcar, already very popular among students, faculty and university staff.Â Zipcar is a program that allows you to access a car from many locations around your area for a low fee, by the hour or day.Â This way you will not need to have your own car and you will still be able to get around in those instances where a car is necessary. Zipcar offers over 30 makes and models, and exists in over 50 cities in North America and the UK, as well as near 100+ universities across North America. Zipcar estimates they've cut CO2 emissions by 56 million pounds annually, helping reduce traffic congestion and parking demand. Also, Zipcar has conveniently partnered with Zimride to allow members to share a ride, further reducing the number of cars on the road and therefore contributing to cleaning up the air and greening the environment.
3. Use Those Legs!
Walk or bike instead of driving at least once a week.Â Not only is it a healthy alternative, but you will have a zero-carbon commute: it doesn't get any more eco-friendly than this! If you live in the Los Angeles area, click hereÂ to locate bicycle paths. If your city is lacking bike lanes or bike paths, you can take action and turn your town into a Bicycle Friendly Community. Always put safety first when you ride a bike: wear a helmet, lights and reflecting gear, and know the laws enforced in your state.
4. Travel Locally
Reduce the amount of trips taken by both cars and airplanes and offset carbon emissions when possible. Consider vacationing locally instead of flying hundreds of miles away from home. Not only will you be more eco-responsible as you will emit less carbon, but you will most likely spend less money too while discovering local treasures.
5. Healthy Car
Make sure your car is properly working to ensure maximum fuel efficiency. Cars with under-inflated tires, extra weight in the vehicle, and that are overall poorly maintained are less efficient and emit more CO2 per mile driven. Properly inflated tires have low rolling resistance (LRR), meaning they require less energy (less gas) and consequently contribute to lower emissions. Donâ€™t simply rely on your eyes to know if your tires are properly inflated, as even a 40% underinflation is hard to detect visually. You can ask your local mechanic to check on the tire pressure, do it yourself at the gas station or at home with a good tire pressure gauge.
JustLiveGreener brings you in depth-information about environmental issues as well as tips for a greener, more eco-friendly way of living that respects nature while enhancing quality of life.
Also, consider replacing your worn tires with energy-efficient tires, also called low rolling resistance (LRR) tires. And if you can spend the extra bucks, look into installing eco-friendly tires made with natural, petroleum-free ingredients, such as the orange oil-infused tires by Yokohama.
By following just a few simple steps and cutting back on the number of car and plane trips you make, you can be one step closer to reducing your transportation carbon footprint and being greener and more eco-responsible. Your action, combined with others', will make a difference. Make the pledge to use more sustainable methods of transportation, and please tell us how it's changing your life.