We all know that there are steep environmental costs to driving, but for most Americans driving is an essential part of the fabric of their daily lives. Most of us need the flexibility of our own wheels to get everything done. But there are many ways that you can reduce the environmental impact of your driving. Here are just five of them.
1. Share your rides with others. Offer your neighbor a ride to the grocery store, go to parties with friends who live near you, offer to pick up some other children from school when you are getting your own, or plan outings ahead of time with others. You’ll be building community at the same time that you are saving gas.
2. Switch to a car that gets better mileage. It doesn’t have to be a hybrid; if you live in the country, as we do, there is less benefit to hybrids than there is for city dwellers. This is because one of the primary ways that hybrids conserve gas is that they don’t run when idling at a stop. There are many small cars now with miles per gallon figures that were unheard of in the recent past.
3. Combine your errands and save time as well as money. You don’t need to go to the grocery store constantly. Keep a list going on your refrigerator door and do larger shopping less often. And when you do go to the grocery store, stop by the library, the drugstore, the hardware store, the bank, and anywhere else you need to go. You could even go by a friend’s house for a short visit as well.
We live an hour’s drive from the nearest large town, so we are motivated to do all these errands at once. We can usually go two weeks between visits, buying a few groceries in our small town in between major shopping forays. We keep a cooler in the trunk of our car and another one in the back of our small pickup, so we don’t usually need the dry ice available at the grocery store. I like to get all the errands done and then enjoy lunch out before heading home.
4. Simplify the schedules of your school-age children. Consider whether their lives are overly booked and too demanding of fossil-based transportation. For example, they could ride bikes more.
Each person’s transportation needs are different, and we do not live in a society with high-quality public transportation. It you can use it, do. And think about your situation and no doubt you can find ways to improve it.