Driving is a staple of the twenty-first century. We drive to work, the grocery store, through the coffee line, and more. Cars add a layer of convenience to our lives. They also increase the size of our carbon footprints. Many individuals look to shrink their environmental impact by challenging the normalized use of greenhouse gas-emitting technologies.
To understand the alternatives to driving, we must first evaluate all of the ecological issues caused by cars.
Environmental Problems With Cars
The majority of cars occupying the road runs on fossil fuels. And for every gallon of gas consumed by a motor vehicle, 24 pounds of greenhouse gases invade the atmosphere. The pollution produced by this technology creates detrimental effects on the climate.
When fossil fuels burn, they create an enhanced greenhouse effect in the atmosphere. This process ordinarily involves Earth’s natural warming and cooling functions that maintain a temperature suitable for life to flourish. But with the presence of greenhouse gases, the atmosphere faces challenges to this process.
Air pollutants trap the sun’s energy in the atmosphere rather than reflecting it to space. This entrapment causes the planet to overheat, which raises the global temperature over time. Global warming causes ripple effects of ecological destruction.
Excessive driving also delivers direct harm to the global ecosystem. Roadkill is at an all-time high, with over one million animals facing mortality on the road every day. Cars now kill more animals than hunting in the U.S.
Animals are not the only ones affected by cars – humans also face consequences from driving.
The normalization of driving has lessened individuals’ engagement with cardio-driven activities like walking and biking. A 2019 study revealed that drivers over the age of 50 gain weight from sitting in cars. This weight gain can lead to a variety of other detrimental health effects.
Fortunately, humanity flourished long before almost everyone owned a car. Before the normalization of driving everywhere alone, individuals biked, walked, used public transportation, carpooled, and even rollerskated to their destinations.
We can readopt these alternate forms of transportation to reduce our environmental impact.
Cycling is a healthy and effective way to shrink your carbon footprint. Around half of Americans work within five miles of their home. We could reduce national greenhouse gas emissions by 5 million tons annually if all these individuals biked to work rather than drove.
Biking also decreases your risk for cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Outside of physical health, cycling improves individuals’ mental health. It can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety.
If you live within walking distance of your destination, you should choose this driving alternative for its pure sustainability. Walking is more environmentally friendly compared to cycling because it requires no external devices. Bikes rely on the destruction of forests and villages to source rubber for tires.
Much of the world’s rubber comes from villages in China. Rubber plants consume around one-fifth of these villages’ available space. The excessive growth of rubber plants poses problems for biodiversity, too. The plants promote topsoil erosion, watershed stress, and carbon sequestration reduction.
Although tire production promotes environmental degradation, it is not as severe as car tire construction.
3. Public Transportation
If you live farther than walking or biking distance from your destination, you could utilize public transportation as an eco-friendlier alternative to driving. When many individuals take one bus or train to a location, they divide the emissions among the riders. This distribution creates a smaller footprint compared to individual motorists.
Public transportation also benefits a rider’s mental health by removing them from isolation. When you ride the bus or train with the same individuals every day, you build a community. Community can decrease loneliness and depression, which are two emotional impacts that negatively affect one’s health and lifespan.
4. Electric Carpool
Carpooling with your peers in an electric car can significantly reduce your environmental impact. With charging stations popping up around the country, electric carpooling is more accessible than ever before. To further shrink your footprint, you can fuel your car at a solar port.
Solar carports harness the power of the sun to fuel your automobile. When you carpool in an electric vehicle, you reduce your ecological impact and reduce the number of cars occupying the road. Fewer animals are struck by cars when the streets are less busy, too.
Roller skating and skateboarding are efficient car alternatives in regions with sidewalks. Similar to cycling, skating requires the use of external devices that pose some environmental effects. To challenge this degradation, companies developed sustainable products.
A California skateboard company battles degradation by recycling old fishing nets into boards. This method reduced ocean pollution and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with traditional skateboard production.
Get on Your Feet and Shrink Your Footprint
If you are working to shrink your carbon footprint, ditching your car is the best way to start. Engaging with alternative forms of transportation protects your health and the health of the environment. Reach out to your peers and brainstorm ways to commute together to reduce your impact, starting today.
Written by Evelyn Long
About the Author
Evelyn Long is the editor-in-chief of Renovated, where she publishes home improvement and green building advice for builders and homeowners alike.
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