Cars, trucks, SUVs, and other motor vehicles are a major source of global warming emissions. The transportation sector is responsible for more than 55% of nitrogen oxide emissions in the U.S. This gas, along with carbon, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter, takes a huge toll on your health. Each year, seven million people die from exposure to air pollution and subsequent health complications.
These emissions also wreak havoc on the environment, resulting in acid rain, nutrient buildup in water bodies, an increase in ground-level ozone and an intensified greenhouse effect. In turn, these things can disrupt ecosystems, decimate wildlife populations and affect reproduction and animal life cycles.
Sadly, driving your car to work and back only adds to these problems. Therefore, if you really want to make a difference and cut carbon emissions, it’s time you got rid of your car. Here are a few ways to do just that.
Take Public Transport
The more people use public transportation, the fewer cars there will be on the road — and that means fewer emissions. When you take the public bus, trolley or bullet train to work or the grocery store, less greenhouse gas emissions are released per person, per mile. This reduction in carbon emissions improves air quality and prevents smog, thereby creating a healthier environment for both people and nature.
Carpool and Rideshare
Another alternative to driving your own vehicle is to share a ride with someone else. If you live close to a co-worker, ask them if they mind picking you up and carpooling to work. You can ask the same of friends and family when you plan a road trip or want to meet up and hang out with other people.
Ridesharing like this reduces the number of cars on the road, further minimising emissions and keeping the environment free of toxic gases and pollution.
Ride an E-Bike
If you try taking public transportation and discover it takes even longer to get to work, try cycling. Riding a bike allows you to take detours and avoid traffic, cutting precious minutes off your commute. Plus, you won’t have to worry about finding or paying for a parking spot upon your arrival. You might even invest in an electric bike — or e-bike — so when you tire of pedaling, the bike can pick up the slack and keep you sweat-free.
Of course, you may opt not to travel or commute to work at all. If your employer gives you the option to work from home — even part-time — seize the opportunity. Working remotely will obviously reduce the amount of emissions you produce, even if you’re using more electricity at home during the day.
Take advantage of technology by phoning in to join conferences, video chatting with clients and sharing documents with co-workers online. Working from home has never sounded better, right?
If You Must Keep It
If you live outside city limits and truly can’t get by without a car, you should certainly keep it — especially if ditching it would cost you your job. However, even if you must keep your vehicle, there are still ways to cut emissions and help the environment:
- Maintain it: If your car has mechanical issues, you may be decreasing its fuel efficiency and letting gas or fumes spill out into the atmosphere. Take your automobile to the nearest mechanic for routine check-ups and to ensure all parts are in tip-top shape.
- Clean it out: A light car is an efficient car. Cut your emissions and save money at the pump by cleaning out your car. Remove unnecessary trash, belongings and tools that may be weighing your vehicle down.
- Plan your route: Additionally, when you do drive, be sure to plan your route so it’s as short as possible. Run all your errands in one trip to reduce driving miles and emissions.
- Drive without the HVAC: When you’re out and about, refrain from turning on the air conditioning or heat. Using the AC can raise fuel costs by 13% to 21%, meaning you’ll use more gas and emit more carbon. Just drive and roll the windows down if you get toasty.
Driving a diesel truck or other vehicle that relies on gas for fuel is commonplace these days, but these aren’t your only car options. Now you may choose to drive a hybrid or electric car. On average, these vehicles emit 5,414 pounds of CO2 annually. Meanwhile, gasoline-fuelled cars emit 11,435 pounds. Therefore, hybrids and electrics offer a cleaner option if you still have to use a car to get around.