Week 7: Sustainable Transportation

By Cat Woodson

Transportation is the largest source of carbon emissions in the US (accounting for over 30%). For many cities, the private car is the single greatest polluter due to its CO2 emissions. This week we want to focus on how we can Cut Our Transportation Footprint.

Why Does Reducing Your Transportation Footprint Matter?

  • Vehicles rely on petroleum 
  • Passenger cars and light-duty trucks contribute at least half of the transportation-related CO2 emissions in the US 
  • 1 gallon of gasoline creates 20 lbs. of CO2, meaning the average vehicle creates 6-9 tons of CO2 every year 
  • Ground-level ozone (aka “smog”) is one of the most dangerous airborne pollutants – causing thousands of emergency room visits
    • Children are especially vulnerable because their lungs are still developing 


Transportation Habits That Make a Difference

Keep it Local

Work from Home

Be Car Smart and Eco-Drive

Go easy on the brakes and gas pedal – hard acceleration and braking waste fuel and lower your mileage by 33% on the highway and 5% around town

Reduce car idling time – if stopped for more than 30 seconds (except in traffic), turn off your engine – idling for longer than that uses more fuel than it takes to restart your vehicle)

Use overdrive and cruise control

Properly maintain your vehicle

Combine your errands into less trips

Drive Electric

Electric vehicles (EVs) are a low-carbon alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles.

Car Share or Carpool

This helps reduce: The number of cars manufactured, saving natural resources and energy; The number of cars on the road, cutting emissions; Land use needed for parking; and Costs, time, and gasoline use

Take Public Transportation

Transit riders can save nearly $10,000/year taking public transit instead of driving and communities with strong public transportation systems can reduce the nation’s CO2 emissions by 37 million metric tons/year 

Ride a Bike or Go for a Walk

Replace shorter trips with walking or biking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, traffic congestion, and demand for oil. This also reduces other impacts from motorized vehicles like noice and destruction of open spaces, wetlands, and other natural habitats.

Air Travel

Choose direct flights when available (take-off and landing are the most fuel-intensive parts of a flight)

Pack light (the heavier an aircraft is, the more fuel it consumes – cargo and baggage make up a large portion of an aircraft’s weight)

Mode choice getting to the airport – opt for taking the train or other public transit options


Learn More!

There are many local resources we can use to cut our transportation footprint and we’ll talk about some of them this week. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook to keep up with the discussion!

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