For most in this country, it’s too cold to be outside, but that hasn’t stopped us from piling in our cars and crowding streets and interstates. It’s no secret that we Americans have a dependency on our cars. In fact, the Sierra Club, one of the nation’s oldest environmental organizations, reports that Americans travel almost three trillion miles by car each year. Transportation contributes about one-third of all US carbon dioxide emissions, according to Sierra’s reports. That’s a lot of pollution.
While it’s unrealistic for most of us to give up our cars completely, making subtle adjustments to our lifestyles and our habits can offset significant environmental harm. Here are some tips for sensible traveling.
+ Drive carefully. The Environmental Protection Agency encourages drivers to avoid aggressive acceleration and braking. It’s also important to make sure tires are properly inflated. Tires that are inflated appropriately improve gas mileage.
+ Carpool. The benefit is twofold: we are aiding the environment by having one fewer car on the road; and the relationships we share with those in the car with us can be strengthened.
+ Combine trips. The US Department of Energy encourages drivers to have a game plan before running errands. Short trips from a car that has been idle can use twice the fuel that combining trips does. It also reduces the wear and tear on your car.
+ Bus it. Keeping your car in park just two days a week can lower greenhouse gas emissions. According to the American Public Transit Association, using public transportation regularly can save the equivalent of 900,000 fill-ups every day.
+ What would Francis do? Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of ecology, but, in his lifetime, he was also an optimist. “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible,” is a saying attributed to him. Francis had a deep love for the earth and for those who shared it with him. We can do the same.