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Driving with Sustainability in Mind

One of the biggest contributors to the average American’s carbon footprint is the use of a personal vehicle. Road transportation accounts for 23% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and 81% of these emissions come from personal vehicles! If you want to improve your sustainable living, changing how you drive is a good place to start.

Sustainable driving

But you’re thinking, “I rely on my car/truck/SUV to get me places, how can I change this?”

Fortunately, it isn’t as hard as you think.

Here are some options:

Use a More Fuel Efficient Vehicle

Gas guzzling cars are big offenders of greenhouse gas emissions. A personal passenger vehicle emits an incredible 11.4 metric tons of emissions per year, which comes from the burning of gasoline or diesel fuel.

In comparison, electric vehicles, which run solely on energy from an electric battery, and hybrid vehicles, which use a combination of gasoline and battery fuel, emit 3.8 metric tons and 6.2 metric tons of emissions per year respectively. Simply by switching the type of vehicle you drive, you can reduce your car emissions by almost half or more!

If you’re not interested in hybrid or electric vehicles, the next best option is to use a vehicle that gets great gas mileage (i.e., miles per gallon). The higher the gas mileage you get, the fewer greenhouse gases that your vehicle emits.

Modify How You Drive

Getting great gas mileage is dependent how you drive and use your car. Speeding, having a lot of weight inside or on top of your vehicle, or idling for more than a couple minutes unnecessarily increases the amount of gas used and the emissions your car puts into the atmosphere. Driving the speed limit, removing excess weight from your car, and not idling will help reduce your carbon footprint.

Run All of Your Errands Together

It’s very easy to jump in the car, run an errand, come back home, and do the same thing later in the day for another reason. Being strategic about the errands you need to run can save on the amount gas your car burns as well as the amount of time you spend in the car. If you need to go to the bank and the grocery store, run the errands together rather than separately. Using route planning apps can also help you calculate the shortest, most efficient routes to save you on gas and time.

Use Alternative Modes of Transportation

Can you walk, bike, use public transportation, or carpool instead of drive? All of these options are better choices than driving to reduce your carbon footprint and live more sustainably.

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