In our daily lives, we need to get from one place to another. However, driving a car or truck that runs on fuel regularly and taking flights greatly increase our carbon footprint. There are many ways to get around that don't require fossil fuels and also ways to help environmental efforts if we do use them.
Here are some ways that you can save money, help the environment and get to where you want to go at the same time:
- Avoid flying as much as possible. Airplane flights are the biggest additions to our carbon footprint. Take the train, bus, or ship instead. If you can't get to where you want to go without a plane feasibly, consider if it's worth the environmental cost. If it's for a vacation, maybe go somewhere nearby instead.
- Use longer traveling as its own vacation! Does your train ride last for a day or more? Use this time to learn about the areas you ride through and take photos. Use this time to bond with friends and family, and maybe learn some words of the language of the place you are visiting if it's new to you.
- If you have to fly, choose an airline that takes action to reduce its emissions. Some airlines offer the option to buy bio-fuel to lower their emissions without profit to the airline. This also helps to speed up progress on ending fossil fuels in airplanes.
- Refuse to fly with airlines that do not take action to reduce their own carbon footprint. These companies are not worth your money even if their prices might be a little lower than a company that takes climate change seriously. Let them know through their contact page what you think of their decisions and lack of action, as well.
- If you have to fly, only fly economy and take as little luggage with you as possible. This lowers the weight on the plane and emissions, since there are more passengers sharing the space.
- Choose your offsetting carefully and know that it does not actually take your emissions out of the air. The best way to reduce your own emissions is to reduce your emissions in every part of your life and offsetting doesn't change that. What emissions you put into the environment make a negative impact no matter how much you offset, but supporting certified efforts to help the environment still makes a difference in the world:
- Buy an electric car. Electric cars are cheaper than fuel cars over time, becoming less expensive and more common, and charging points are popping up everywhere. Make the change as soon as you can to help curb emissions in your daily life.
- Instead of driving to the grocery store, take a bike instead. In order to carry groceries, you can attach a basket or small bike trailer to your bike, or wear a backpack to put them in. This can also be a fun activity with children who can ride bikes safely and good exercise for the whole family. Having to buy less food to carry will also help to lessen food waste and help you to consider what you buy more carefully.
- If you are not able to walk or bike to the store, consider public transport. There are various disability-friendly public transport options, but if your area doesn't have one, start or join an advocacy group and demand that the local government start.
- If you are on good terms with your neighbors, consider carpooling when going to the grocery store, making one trip for multiple households or having groceries delivered to multiple houses in the neighborhood. This way, only one car needs to be used instead of many.
- Walk, bike, carpool or take public transport to work. Walking or biking is a great way to get exercise before having to sit down at a desk or warm up before more physically active jobs. Carpooling or taking public transport is a nice way to relax before work since you don't have to drive.
- Work from home one day a week if your job allows it. This not only increases productivity, but also keeps cars off of the road and uses less energy in the office.
- Use video conferences instead of traveling to certain meetings. This is becoming more common internationally and helps to avoid unnecessary flights and drives.
- Take a local vacation. Have you been everywhere in your city or town yet? What about the surrounding area? You might be surprised at what you find!
- Go on a nature vacation near you. There are many nationally protected areas all around the world where people can visit. Make a day of it!
- Always leave an area better than you found it. Consider joining a cleanup event while you're there or doing it by yourself, only walk, bike or use public transport, and support local environmental efforts.
- Take only memories (and photos if you want). When you visit a place, that rock or flower was there before you were and deserves to stay there after you leave. Never take anything from its natural environment unless it's part of a local, well thought out and helpful cleanup effort to get rid of invasive species.
- Avoid going to places during their peak seasons when there are lots of tourists. Not only do peak seasons overload local people and businesses, but they also cause damage to the environment from emissions and careless actions, and put a strain of every part of the area. Any place you go will be beautiful in all seasons, so why not go when you can have the place almost all to yourself?
- Support small, local businesses. Avoid chain stores and large businesses in the area you visit. Shopping local puts more money into the local economy and more food on people's tables.
- If you go to the beach or anywhere near water, only wear reef-safe sunscreen. River, lake and municipal water near beaches eventually run off into the ocean, so make sure any sunscreen you wear is safe for corals. Here are 15 sunscreens that are reef-safe: https://www.hawaii.com/blog/reef-safe-sunscreen/
- Only stay at sustainable accommodations like carbon-neutral hotels and places that take their environmental and local impact in consideration for every decision.