“Green” has become the hip thing. It's cool. It's exciting. But for most people it just doesn't really touch home. Changing a few light bulbs to CFL bulbs is easy enough, but going farther than that can really feel like a difficult task. When it comes to green transportation the options can feel even smaller than with other areas of your life. However, there are green transportation options out there.
The first thing you should do is consider how you use your car right now. By making simple changes in how you drive your car using a simple technique known as hypermiling you can make a huge difference in the world around you. You should strive to use your car less and consider green transportation when you can.
Your Car Hurts the Environment
Green transportation options are only worth looking at if you can see what cars do to the environment. A car starts impacting the environment from the moment production is started. If you understand that then it is easy to start looking for green transportation options in your area.
- Cars use finite elements and quickly. We are using up the metals on our planet. We often think of them as forever there, but there isn't an endless supply and the metals used to produce the 2.4 million cars people of the planet bought last year is significant.
- Cars us petroleum and other fossil fuels in their production as well. This includes the petroleum used to make the plastics in the vehicles and it also includes coal used for electricity to make the car.
- Using cars pollutes the water. When we drive on the road we leave behind particulates that are later washed away by the rain. These pollutants often end up in the water and can include oil, wear from the tires and other parts, and even detergents.
- Cars also release a variety of emissions which pollute the air. They add to the ozone depletion and are added to the greenhouse gases. All these emissions contribute to global warming, smog, and acid rain as well as contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer.
- While the last thing that cars do isn't really and “environmental” issue it is one that can have you thinking. Car exhaust has a direct effect on the health of the people around it. Often it is obvious that it causes distress in the lungs and such, but it also causes brain damage.
Green Transportation Options
It is important that we find as many alternatives as we can, whenever we can. However, many areas just aren't set up to make it easy to turn to green transportation, especially if you don't have a lot of money. However, whenever possible you should try and find as many solutions that will work for you as often as possible. Every little bit can help the planet and those who live in it.
1. Walking – Walking doesn't seem like much of an option, especially if you are out of shape. However, you should figure out what is in your area that you could walk to. Start out with a small circle from your house and as you get fitter (a great advantage of choosing some green transportation options) you can make it a bigger circle. Eventually you should be able to walk at least two miles. You will want to spend a little time picking the best route to get where you need to go, but in the end it can be well worth it and you can pick up a few groceries and do a few errands you may need to while making a difference.
2. Sharing Vehicles - There are a number of ways that you can share rides. While this is still using a car that pollutes, it reduces the number of cars on the road. Carpooling allows more than one person going to the same location use one car to get there. It's great for employees who live near one another and for parents who take kids to their school. CarSharing is where you can rent a car for an hour at a time. These programs often make it possible to pick up a car off of a public transportation route, drive it where you need to go, and return it to that same location when you are done. This allows you to reduce the amount you use a car.
3. Public Transportation – You should find out any and all of the public transportation options in your area. You may be surprised at how easy it is to use the public transportation system. You should route out where you want to go, how you can get there, and so forth to try and use the system whenever you can. You can usually save money when you choose a monthly or multiple use pass. It should be noted that public transportation in itself isn't really green, however it does reduce the amount of resources and pollution by using one vehicle instead of one for each person or small group.
4. Mass Transportation – In a way similar to public transportation, mass transportation options aren't green in and of themselves. However, it is a lot better than driving by yourself or with your family across the country. Options include the bus and the train. Flying is highly debated. It is never a green option for short trips and there is some debate that releasing the gases high in the sky is very dangerous. You should save flying for longer trips and choose different options when traveling under 1500 miles.
5. Cycling – Cycling is another great way to reduce your car use. You can get a lot of great accessories that can turn your bicycle into a transportation vehicle that is capable of carrying things. You can also look into other types of cycles that can help you get where you are going and haul what you need to haul. There are tricycles and quadricycles that can even haul loads and kids. For even more convenience you can get an electric assist motor to make it even easier to get from point a to point b.
6. Scooters – While one could argue that scooters could or should fall into the green vehicles category, they just don't seem to have the same omph that many of the green vehicles do. So here they are. Scooters come in a wide variety of options these days. Electric scooters are a very common choice. It is true that they aren't the perfect choice because as long as they are charged on the grid, coal and other fossil fuels will be burned to get the energy. However, they are better than your car and if you wanted to you could hook them into a solar powered system. There are even plans online for converting an electric scooter to a solar powered scooter that can charge right in the parking lot.
7. Green Vehicles – Many green vehicles aren't the perfect choice. However, they are moving in the right direction. There are currently lower emissions cars, hybrids (that use electricity and gas), and electric powered cars. Electric powered cars are plugged in at home and therefore don't provide a perfect solution. However, they are definitely better than driving just any old car (or SUV) around town. That being said, many of these options are not the most affordable and do require making a large investment.
Until major infrastructure changes are made, many of these options are a lot less convenient then getting into the car and being on your way. Hopefully the future will bring about more cities working toward better walking and biking options and moving toward better public transportation. Until then, it won't be easy, but you will make a difference every time you choose a green transportation option. One little step at a time is still moving forward. Plus, many green options will get you moving more and that's good for you as well as the environment.