In a recent blog post, we shared some of the reasons you should go green on your daily commute... You'll help reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, decrease traffic congestion, save time and money and even get fit. You can read that post here if you missed it.
So now that you know why green commuting is great, we thought we'd cover how to green commute. Read on to discover 8 methods that could help greenify your journey to work.
Walk to Work
Walking is a low cost activity that requires minimal equipment, other than maybe a new pair of sneakers, making it accessible to most of us. If you're thinking about walking to work, head to Google maps, type in your home and work address and get an estimate on how long the journey will take you. Or simply do a test run on a weekend and time yourself. Allow a little extra time to freshen up or get changed when you get to work and you're good to go.
To really gain all the physical health benefits of walking, ensure your walk raises your heart and breathing rates. Or you might like to take it easy in the morning and listen to your fave podcast or practice a walking meditation. That way you won't get to work all sweaty and can save the heart-pumping exercise for the way home!
Live too far from your workplace? You don’t need to replace the entire journey with walking. You can catch public transport partway to work and walk the remaining distance or even drive some of the way. A simple change like this can be a great way to get a bit more walking into your journey.
Ride to Work
Cycling or Me-Moving to work is a carbon-free mode of urban commute that will save you money and is a great way to incorporate exercise daily. Cycling saves around 0.2kg of CO2 per kilometre, compared to travelling the same distance in a car. Of course this varies depending on the size of your car, type of fuel and driving style, but either way you’re no longer having a detrimental effect on the air quality in your city while simultaneously improving your own physical health.
Riding your Me-Mover or bike to work can be daunting for many people, particularly novice riders or those not used to riding in traffic. Although you may drive along a main road to get to work, there may be a quieter route available or even a dedicated bike path. If you have colleagues that cycle to work, we recommend asking them for the best road with dedicated cycle lanes or use online maps to determine the best route. Many council areas will also have cycling maps available.
If you can't avoid heavy traffic, make sure you wear a helmet and bright clothing to ensure you can be seen and ensure your bike has adequate reflectors and use lights where necessary. The upright riding style of the Me-Mover can also help with this by positioning you higher and making you more visible to other road users. Also make sure you test brakes and service your bike regularly to make sure it's as safe as can be.
Many cite a lack of showers at work as a reason not to cycle. However, as mentioned above with walking, if you ride at a comfortable pace and wear loose fitting clothing on your way to work, you may find that you won’t need a shower when you arrive. Then you can ride as hard as you like on the way home to ensure you get a good workout.
At the other end of the scale, you may think it's too cold or too wet to ride, but investing in some quality rain and cold weather gear will mean you can cycle year round. Otherwise, take the car or train on those particularly nasty days. Even if you only ride to work in spring and autumn, you'll still have halved your CO2 emissions for the year compared to driving. It all adds up!
While foot and pedal power are the best ways to cut pollution, those may not be viable solutions in areas lacking cycle-friendly infrastructure. Furthermore, the distance traveled to work may make these options a no-go for many people. In this case, choosing public transport may be the greenest way to commute.
A bus or train at full capacity can replace hundreds of individual cars on the road. Particularly if you reside in a suburban area and work in the city, taking a train, tram, ferry or bus is usually the most cost effective and quickest way to commute. Plus it results in cleaner air, reduced traffic and more cash in your wallet.
Carpooling with your co-workers means there are fewer cars on the road, which naturally reduces CO2 emissions and reduces traffic congestion. This reduction in traffic will also result in shorter commute times. Furthermore, carpooling increases the availability of parking spaces, meaning drivers spend less time running their cars while they drive around looking for somewhere to park.
Reducing the number of empty seats on the roads is not only beneficial for the environment, it's beneficial for employees too, by saving them money and providing a social way of getting to work. If your co-workers don't live near you or don't want to carpool, ride providers like Uber have an option for a shared ride. Though we advise exercising caution sharing rides with strangers, it’s a great step forward.
Hybrid & Electric Cars
Even if you’re not a Tesla fan you must know that electric or hybrid cars are the future, with many mainstream car makers investing in electric and hybrid technology. If you must buy a car or need to upgrade, then making the switch to an electric or hybrid vehicle is the most effective way to cut emissions. These cars are typically really quiet too, which means they help curb noise pollution. The obvious downside of these cars is the initial expense, though as the technology advances and demand increases we can expect this to change.
Fuel Efficiency & Eco Fuels
If you are unable to spend a workday without your own vehicle (and let's be honest it's just not possible or practical for some of us) you can still reduce your negative impact on the environment with the choices you make. Going green isn't an all-or-nothing proposition.
Simple steps to improve your fuel-efficiency and reduce your impact include:
Keep your tires properly inflated
Avoid peak hour traffic when possible. See if your employer can offer flextime.
Keep your car well tuned and maintained
Take it easy on the accelerator and avoid hard or sudden braking where possible
Use your air conditioning wisely
Drive in the highest gear possible for the speed you're traveling
Don't carry unnecessary loads or weight in your vehicle
Use the fuel recommended by the manufacturer. Noting premium/higher octane fuel is not always better!
Consider biodiesel or E10 fuel. These fuels still have pros and cons to factor into your decision
If you can't leave the car at home or make the switch to a hybrid or electric car, you can offset your carbon emissions by buying some good carbon karma. Essentially, carbon offsetting involves investing in projects that reduce emissions or remove them from the atmosphere. Projects can include reforestation, renewable energy, energy efficiency and more efficient agricultural processes.
While there is a history of dodgy dealings with carbon offset providers, where consumers couldn't be sure they were getting what they paid for, rest assured that the majority of providers in Australia are now legitimate as a result of stringent standards, government regulation and development of the National Carbon Offset Standard.
Work From Home
Finally, the best way to make your commute as eco-friendly as possible, is not to commute at all!
Obviously this doesn't work for every profession, activities that require face-to-face contact, equipment handling or other forms of physical presence don't lend themselves telecommuting. But if you're in sales, marketing, customer service, computing, IT or administration it should be possible.
Check to see if your company already has a telecommuting policy or negotiate with your boss to see if you can work from home all or part of the week. Make sure to do your research on the benefits for yourself and your employer before heading into negotiations.
There you have it... 8 ways to make your commute more green and eco-friendly!
We know not all options are going to work for everyone, but hopefully there's something you can takeaway and incorporate into your commute. Do some more research and try some of these options to find out what works best for you. We know it's cliche, but every little bit really does help.