Public transit, according to the United States Department of Transportation, has less than half the carbon footprint of automobiles. While urban residents can easily reduce their carbon footprints by using transit, private cars still clog the streets of most cities. One major obstacle to using transit is improper gear. Unless you know what to wear and what to carry, the urban commute commuter lifestyle can seem inconvenient and uncomfortable, but with some minor gear adjustments anyone can become an expert "straphanger," as urban commuters are called.

The first step in living a green lifestyle in a major urban area, is mastering the art of rugged outdoor business dressing. What makes this art so difficult is that the rugged gear you buy for hiking the backcountry or Alpine skiing isn't acceptable for most offices, and badly chosen business clothing won't survive a ten-minute walk to the subway in sub-zero temperatures. Luckily, well-chosen business clothes can be practical and versatile as well as stylish and professional. Even better, when you dress properly for urban public transit commuting, you simultaneously both save money and reduce your carbon footprint.


Three-Season Clothing

Classic business suits or separates are functional and versatile outfits for fall, winter, and spring. Both men and women should wear trousers and jackets in relatively dark, neutral colors that do not show dirt. Choose medium-weight wool or wool-blends to cope with cold outdoor weather and overheated buses and subways. For all but the coldest weather, a lined trench coat keeps you warm and dry. Remove the liner on warmer days and add a scarf on colder days. Leather gloves and a light folding umbrella complete your basic weather proofing.

For the coldest days, wear a warm, hooded knee-length winter coat. Wool knee socks keep your calves warm. For very deep snow, wear your warmest boots and carry or stash in your desk a pair of office shoes. In light snow or rain, try smooth leather ankle boots with waterproof, breathable liners. Add stylish cashmere scarves and insulated leather gloves to complete the ensemble.


Dress For Summer

The challenge of summer commuting is that you sweat outdoors and freeze in air-conditioning. Cope with the sweat issues by wearing quick-drying microfiber shirts in a dark fabric or carry or store an office shirt. Carry or stash in your office a silk or light wool jacket to cope with air conditioning.


Hauling Stuff

Your laptop, smartphone, paperwork, lunch, wallet, umbrella and random miscellaneous stuff may add up to more weight than you want to carry in a briefcase. Experiment with backpacks or messenger bags in sleek leather or fashion-forward fabrics or microfibers. Tuck a foldable nylon tote into a corner of your bag so you can pick up groceries on the way home. For major weekend or after-work shopping trips, invest in a wheeled rolling shopping bag with a waterproof nylon cover.


Car Sharing and Taxis

For the few occasions, such as buying furniture, when  transit won't suffice, stay green by using a taxi, renting a car, or participating in a car-sharing program,  rather than owning a car. You'll save money and help save the planet as well.