How green is your commute? That was the question in our last Green Schoolhouse Series blog poll, and the results show that most of us could use some work.
Super Green: I walk or bike
If you live in Portland, Oregon or San Francisco, biking might make more sense than driving because your city supports “bike culture.” Bicycling.com’s Top-50 list of America’s Best Bike Cities ranks cities based on bike lanes, racks, shops, and more – does yours make the cut?
What about walking? Wondering how that would pan out for a 50-mile commute? So did founders of The Commute, a 24-hour, 50-mile walk from downtown San Jose to downtown San Francisco. The first event of this kind in the Bay Area will take place this Saturday, June 4 (check out the website for more details). This is not a race; participants can stop to eat, relax, or even shop, whenever they feel like it.
If you have a free day and a willing friend, why not walk or bike your commute to see what it’d be like?
Green: I take public transit, carpool, or my hybrid
Whether it’s the city bus, a light-rail or subway system, or sharing rides with our coworkers, only 10 percent of us are choosing this green commute.
Hybrid vehicles only made up less than 3 percent of the American automotive market, according to MixedPower.com, but thanks to more car companies offering a wider variety of clean and efficient vehicles, it’s getting easier and more appealing to choose a green vehicle. Some of the more environmentally friendly driving options include hybrid-electric, battery-electric, and diesel – learn more about the technologies and fuel types available at Drive Clean’s website.
If you’re not able to carpool or purchase a greener vehicle, there are many benefits to public transportation, including:
- Safety. The National Safety Council estimates public transit to be 170 times safer than automobile travel.
- Cost. Public transit can save an average household more than $6,000 on automobile expenses per year. When you consider a monthly car payment, insurance, maintenance and gas, it really adds up.
- Assistance. Many companies and schools offer an incentive program or reduced fare for those who choose to take public transportation.
- Productivity. Not enough time in the day to get everything done? Studying, reading, working or just relaxing are all possible when you’re not behind the wheel.
Not So Green: I drive solo in my SUV
If you’re among the majority of not-so-green commuters, it’s probably with good reason. Thanks to urban sprawl, many of us live too far away to walk or bike to work, and public transit isn’t always readily available or realistic.
Look up your car’s emissions and fuel economy rating, or compare cars using the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Vehicle Guide to see just how much of an impact you’re making.
If you can’t get around a harmful commute, think of ways to cut down on driving on the weekends or being green in other ways (recycling, composting, saving energy, the list goes on and on). Also, consider purchasing TerraPass carbon offsets – conceived to help everyday people reduce the climate impact of their driving. The proceeds support clean energy and other projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.