When Earth Day Canada first challenged me to become a part of their clean commute campaign I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. My work requires me to be on the road a lot and I have to use a pickup truck to haul around materials. But ever since I’ve become a Dad, living a greener, healthier life has become much more important to me so I decided to take Earth Day up on the offer. Here are a few things I learned.
Clean Your Drive
Those of us who have to drive can do a lot of things to help lower our carbon footprints. Carpool whenever possible, keep your tire pressure where it should be, drive the speed limit, and don’t idle. One of the things that surprised me the most is that on average Canadian motorists idle their vehicles an average of 5-10 minutes per day. If Canadian motorists avoided idling for just three minutes every day of the year, CO2 emissions could be reduced by 1.4 million tonnes annually. This would be equal to saving 630 million litres of fuel and equivalent to taking 320,000 cars off of the road for the entire year. Remember, if you idle for over 10 seconds you’re using more fuel than you would if you shut off and restarted your engine. So shut ‘er down!
If you live in the city consider testing an electric vehicle. Not only are they a highly efficient mode of transportation, but the Government of Ontario provides rebates of up to $8500 for purchasing electric vehicles. Check with your local government to see if you can claim any rebates.
Switching from driving to an active commute (biking, walking, rollerblading, etc.) is a great way to decrease your carbon footprint while improving your health. I can’t always leave my truck at home, but I have started walking and biking short distances during the day instead of taking the car. Going on a coffee run or lunch break usually happens on foot when once I would have taken the truck.
Take Public Transit
If you live in the city why not take public transit? Buses (on average) take 57 cars off the road, which makes a huge difference in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There’s also subways, streetcars, and if you commute from outside the city, commuter trains. Not only does taking public transit reduce GHG emissions, but it can be really nice to sit back and let someone else do the driving.
There’s no better way to clean your commute than by eliminating it all together. More and more companies are allowing employees to work from home and connecting with them via telephone, email and teleconferencing. This saves time, money, and it can make a significant difference in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Telecommuting one day per week, a single employee can reduce more than 0.25 tonnes of GHG emissions per year.
The biggest lesson I took from this process was that small changes can make a big difference. I might not be able to ditch my truck every day, but there are things I can do to lessen its impact.
Now I want to hear from you. Which of the 5 videos above most applies to your clean commute? Leave a comment here telling me which one is your favourite and why, and I’ll choose one random winner who will receive a Vivo Smart Band courtesy of Earth Day Canada.
Thanks and happy commuting!
*Prize is available to Canadian residents only. The winner of the Vivo Smart Band will be notified via email on Friday, June 5th. To learn more about Vivo Smart Band please visit their website.
***Edited June 5th, 2015 – The winner of the Vivo Smart Band courtesy of Earth Day Canada has been chosen and notified. Thanks to everyone who participated!