In the US, possibly more than in any other country, we love our cars. The space between places means that we rely upon driving to get us from one place to another and it’s difficult to find alternative modes of transport for when time is short and distances are long!
Obviously, choosing to travel on foot or by bicycle is a great way to reduce your individual impact on the environment. The thing is, we’re not in to preaching and understand you can’t simply stop using your car. Trains and other public transport are great, but they’re not always convenient, especially if you have a family with children and don’t want to be tied down to specific times.
Whether we like it or not, cars are here to stay. Even if you are a dedicated car driver, there are a number of ways to reduce your carbon emissions and make your transportation a bit greener. As with any environmental action, taking control of our individual impact on the world around us can make a huge difference.
Do you have to drive?
Before getting in your car, consider whether you could reach your destination by another means. Walking regularly can reduce your risk of heart problems and other illnesses, as well as making you fitter. Identify your most common destinations, and investigate whether you could get there by bus, train, bike, or walking. A study carried out found that on average, people overestimate the time that journeys by public transport will take by more than 80% and underestimate the time that car journeys will take by 18%. Is it really quicker to drive? Travel to work or school by public transport, walking, or cycling once a week. You might find that you enjoy it!
How to cut emissions when using your car
The following tips have been pulled together to give you an overview of how to be more green about your transport, so you can arrive at your destination feeling a bit smug about how you got there…
Investigate the possibility of car sharing. You can register for car-sharing by going online and seeking out other people who regularly go to the same destination as you. By sharing with just one other person, you could half your costs of driving.
When you’re driving, get rid of any surplus weight, such as roof bars or bike racks. This makes your journey a little cheaper and also cuts down on emissions by losing the excess weight your car has to pull along.
Use air conditioning carefully, as this increases fuel consumption by 15% – by cutting it down where you can and opening the windows, you cut fuel costs and assist to reduce your emissions. When you are driving, try to change into a higher gear as soon as possible, to reduce the impact on your engine and cut costs. Accelerate and brake as slowly and smoothly as possible, so that you use less fuel and drive with awareness of the environment.
If you drive at slower speeds, you can reduce your emissions significantly. Obviously, the faster you go, the more gas you use!
Have your car serviced regularly – an incorrectly adjusted carburetor can waste up to 25% of fuel. Incorrect tyre pressure can increase fuel consumption too. Switch off your engine at short stops when you are idling for more than a minute, to save on fuel costs.
All these things can support you to make your mark on environmental change and get you to make a real difference on a personal level when considering your impact on the environment. If each one of us makes these small changes, imagine the collective impact we could have on reaching our targets!