Green commute

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Commuting by car has become the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in most of our cities. These greenhouse gases are the leading cause of climate change and air pollution.

These societal challenges have prompted people to look at their carbon commute -- the total amount of greenhouse gases generated during their daily commute.


[edit] The Carbon Commute

To get an idea, listed below is the amount of carbon dioxide released by various modes of transport during peak commuting hours.

  • By car - 339g for 1km
  • By diesel train — 98g for 1km
  • By Underground — 65g for 1km
  • By single-decker bus — 66g for 1km
  • By foot/bicycle — 0g for 1km

A study done in Manitoba, Canada shows that transportation accounted for 38% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the province in 1998. (Ref: Climate Change and Mantiobans: A Closer Look, Information Bulletin No. 98-01E Manitoba Environment, February 1998) Cars and light trucks accounted for 54% of these emissions, mostly from daily commuting. (Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Urban Transportation. National round table on Environment and Economy 1998) Most people are shocked when they see the amount of CO2 they create during their daily commute. To reduce their carbon footprint, conscious citizens across the world are switching to green commuting.

[edit] What is Green Commuting?

The decision to reduce your carbon commute is the essence of green commuting. Travel is a part of our daily life. We have to go to work, school, stores, malls, bank and to the doctor. To make this trip, a green commuter can

  • Walk
  • Take a bus
  • Cycle
  • Catch a train
  • Run
  • Car share

Or he can combine these various modes of commuting to suit his requirement. If possible, he can take a place near his place of work or even opt for working from home. Today, green companies are promoting work-out-of-home to lower attrition rate and promote resource conservation. Predictably, these are referred to as green jobs. One of the big eco-benefits of working out of your home is the commute. On the other hand, as a home business owner, you’ve got your resources condensed under one roof which greatly reduces your ecological footprint. Research has also shown that today’s youngsters are looking to work for businesses that help the environment. If you still have to drive, then take a course in eco-driving or green driving. And, avoid being a single occupancy vehicle (SOV).

Did you know that the stretch of road that can carry 1200 bicycles and 2000 walkers can only be used to carry 100 cars Go For Green.

[edit] The Dos and Don’ts of Green Commuting

  • Plan some extra time for commuting.
  • If the distance is 2-3 kilometers or less, opt to walk.
  • While walking, use roads with less traffic and wide pavements. Opt for scenic routes even if they are slightly longer.
  • For distances upto 5 kilometers, cycle to your destination.
  • While cycling take the roads with less traffic or if it is a busy road, see if there is a bicycle track.
  • For longer distances opt for public transport such as bus or trains.
  • Combine two modes of travel if public transport does not take you to your destination.
  • Talk to people in your workplace or other parents in the school. Form a car pool with people traveling in the same direction.
  • Avoid being an SOV – a single occupancy vehicle.
  • If you have to drive, make sure when you buy a new car or change your vehicle you go for a green car.
  • Carry the number of your doctor and the number and name of the person to be contacted in case of emergency.

[edit] Benefits of Green Commuting

[edit] Personal Benefits

  • Green Commute enables you to exercise within your regular routine.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Walking and cycling reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and osteoporosis and help in weight loss.
  • Both walking and cycling improve your energy levels, stamina and blood circulation.
  • Using the public transport gives you time to relax, sort your thoughts, plan your day and meet people.

[edit] Benefits to the Community

  • You are reducing the congestion on roads.
  • Activities like regular walking and cycling improve the general health of the populace and decrease health care costs.

A study done by the Conference Board of Canada estimated that a 10% increase in the proportion of Canadians who are physically active would result in a saving of $102 million just from the reduction in the expenditure towards the treatment of ischemic heart disease (hardening of the arteries leading to chest pain and potentially heart attack).

  • It can also save the public money that goes towards costly transportation infrastructure for motor vehicles (road building, street repairs, building and maintaining bridges). It has been found that if people use bicycles instead of motor vehicles, then the road can be used by 7 to 12 times more people.
  • People find it easier to walk and move around.
  • The quality of life in that area improves.

[edit] Benefits to the Environment

By becoming a green commuter --

  • You are contributing to reducing greenhouse gas emission. Each motor trip that is switched to cycling or walking avoids releasing into the atmosphere 2.6 grams of hydrocarbon, 367 grams of carbon dioxide, and 1.6 grams of nitrogen oxides per passenger per mile. See Commuter Challenge
  • You are protecting the flora, fauna and the green belt in that area.
  • You are also having a positive impact on the wildlife present in that region.

[edit] What else can be done to promote Green Commuting?

  • Find out if your employer participates in the Eco-Pass subsidized transit program. Make him aware of such programmes.
  • Find other green commuters at your workplace to encourage the development of supportive policies and facilities.
  • Organise and participate in commuter challenge in your area. Commuter Challenge can be a local, regional or a national program, set up with the aim of increasing the awareness of the benefits of sustainable commuting. It also tries to encourage people to take action by walking, cycling, taking transit, carpooling or tele-working instead of driving alone to get work.
  • Conscious citizens in some areas have taken innovative initiative to encourage green commute. In Mumbai, India an NGO has introduced an organized and secure car-pooling system that runs via SMS. For additional information please see What is KoolPool ?
  • Conscious citizens can join hands with others and be party to organizing events like environment week and clean air day. Such events increase awareness, give momentum to the movement and introduce the concept to other people in the community. They are also found highly successful in making children aware of the pitfalls of using automobiles.

[edit] References

  • Love your car? Give it a day off
  • Commuter Challenge
  • The Carbon Commute
  • Next best thing to a flying car
  • Travel and Environmental Implications of School Siting
  • Employees Want Green Jobs
  • [

According to a report in The Times Online edition, road tests carried out by Auto Express magazine found cars promoted as eco-friendly were emitting 56 per cent more carbon dioxide than what was claimed by their manufacturers. Read more inside

// Green Commuting Initiatives]