To celebrate World Environment Day, we have a look at five different ways you could make your commute green. Next time you step out the door, consider other ways you could be getting to work with a little more environmental-friendliness in mind:
There are over 1.2 billion cars in the world. Friends of the Earth claim that if average car occupancy were to increase by half, it would lead to a one-third fall in traffic. Average car occupancy across Europe is 1.7, and yet a 10% car occupancy rise would reduce congestion by as much as a doubling rail usage, drastically reducing car emissions.
If you share the commute with others who are travelling to the same place every single day, you are not only making sense (hooray!) but you are reducing emissions by reducing the number of cars on the road. If more people carpooled during their commute, travel time would also be reduced because with less cars on the road, there’s less traffic. And less time spent in the car means even less CO2 emissions would be emitted.
With technology which enables you to easily find new carpool partners, calculate your optimum route to work and pay your driver/receive money from your passengers, the benefits are palpable. Greener and smarter.
Not quite the same as carpooling – car sharing essentially means you don’t need to own a car. You hire from a fleet of cars to reduce traffic congestion and pollution, and a lot of big companies are jumping on the bandwagon.
Every year, the average UK employee travels 337,250 miles during their commute, and the average car emits about six tons of carbon dioxide every year. Commuting and other private mileage accounts for 88% of total carbon emissions. The average British household has two cars, but 2.2 million households have four or more cars on the same driveway.
Yet there is little financial incentive to owning a car. A 2010 study of 3,000 city dwellers in the UK found that the average car was parked for 97% of its life.
The benefits of carsharing for urban areas are clear: each shared car takes 17 privately owned vehicles off the road, according to Carplus, an industry body.
London is one city which is actively encouraging carsharing, with Transport for London recently outlining an ambitious car club strategy that seeks to get 1m members by 2025 — compared with about 135,000 at the beginning of this year — as a way of bringing down emissions and congestion.
By cycling to work you save 0.3kg of CO2 per mile cycled compared to travelling the same distance by car (depending on the size of your car and the fuel type). You also help to reduce congestion, taking an entire car off the road during rush hour. As a result you’re no longer having a detrimental effect on the air quality for those living in the region.
As more and more people latch on to the benefits of the cycle commute, more is being done to accommodate for this mode of transport. London’s cycle superhighways are proving a highly successful investment, and it’s likely that this type of cycling-specific infrastructure will only continue to be developed across the UK and overseas.
Walking is by far the most environmentally-friendly way to commute. If you were to walk instead of drive for journeys of less than two miles, your annual carbon emissions could be reduced by nearly 700 kilos.
What’s more, the impact on the environment which is caused by urban areas building more roads and highways to cope with the volume of cars shouldn’t be underestimated. If more people walked to work instead of drove their cars, it would not only reduce emissions and traffic congestion but it would also reduce air pollution and provide a more pleasant everyone.
5. Work from home
As workplaces become ever-more flexible, working from home can be a great alternative to daily commuting, if the type of work you do enables you to work remotely. Naturally, it reduces harmful emissions from vehicles and public transport, and reduces congestion on the roads. By working from home just one day per week, you could be significantly reducing your carbon footprint over a lifetime of working (assuming you don’t use the car to go somewhere else!). On a mass scale, it could have a beneficial impact on pollution across cities.