If you’re suffering from the strain of your morning commute or the stress of harried afternoons running errands by car, consider switching to a car-lite, or even car-free, way of life. Slow down by bussing to work, getting groceries by bike or participating in a walking school bus.
Choosing transportation alternatives other than a car is just one way to make a positive change in your day-to-day life and for the future of our planet. The benefits of using green modes of transportation are countless—the average car emits 411 grams of harmful carbon monoxide per mile. Trading in your car (even for a day) can make a big impact on air quality. Whether you’re walking, biking or bussing (or combining modes), you’re likely to feel more physically and mentally energized while saving money and contributing to cleaner air quality.
With possibility characterizing the season, summer is a great time to try something new. Here are a few ways to get going by going green.
Catch the Bus (or Train)
If you’re hesitant to take the bus (or metro or light rail), picture this: You, completely relaxed, while someone else takes the wheel on your morning commute. With two free hands you can casually check your email to get a jump-start on your work day, or plug in your earbuds to zone out to your favorite podcast or a guided meditation. Buses typically have access to expedited lanes during heavy traffic hours (and trains bypass car traffic altogether), cutting back your commute time. With saved time, shave a little more stress off of your commute by walking the last few blocks to your final destination. If you’re catching the bus for the first time, plan your route in advance and be aware of multiple departure times.
Use Your Feet
Walking is a great way to link the last ¼ mile of your commute from the bus or to take a stroll into town with young children. Travel by foot to get to know a new city or neighborhood—you’re sure to notice landmarks and shops you might not have otherwise seen. If you’re not in a hurry, you can slip into a bookshop, stop for a cup of tea or share an ice cream cone with your kids. If you’re able to, cut through a park. Walking in nature can significantly boost your mood, especially if you live in the city, where instances of anxiety and depression are high.
Hop On Your Bike
More and more communities are working to ensure that cyclists have safe routes to get to major destinations in their area. You can plan your route so that you’ll travel on designated bike paths or lanes as much as possible. If you’re traveling with children, options for toting them along, like front- or back-mounting bike seats, to cargo carriers and tag-a-longs, are endless. Electric bikes or E-bikes can lighten your load (whether it’s a child or groceries) by doing some of the cycling work for you. Pedal-assist E-bikes can travel up to 20 miles per hour with varying degrees of effort (you decide!), and the motor can be recharged for about 18 cents per full charge by plugging in at home.
Join a Carshare
Did you know that you can enjoy the convenience of traveling by car when you need to without the hassle that comes with car ownership? It’s true! Car sharing organizations, like Zipcar, have cars located across the country that you can use in your home neighborhood or while traveling in a new city. Car shares typically cover car insurance, maintenance and gas, making car use low-risk for members. “Fleets” are stocked with a variety of vehicles, ranging from sedans, to vans, trucks and SUVs equipped for winter road travel, making car-free living possible.
Through her work at the certified B Corp Cultivation Center, Blair Young supports nonprofits and socially purposed businesses to thrive. Blair and her family travel as much as possible by bike to have the most fun while making the least amount of impact on the planet.