(Photo: Mikael Colville-Andersen/Flickr)
Expecting humans to just stop traveling sounds unrealistic, even if it’s to save the planet from climate change. Traveling to other areas and experiencing their cultures and surroundings is still one of the best ways for us to understand others better.
Transport (cars, planes, public transport, shipping, etc.) is Australia’s second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions are from tourism activity, according to a study. Even that’s not a very significant number compared to other sources of global greenhouse emissions, right? And right now all around the world, tourism is at an all-time high.
These are things in the traveling and transportation sector that we can do together to act on climate change. To lessen the negative impact of climate change and eventually preserving our and other beings way of life by changing it for the better, we should change the way we travel.
The way we use and do
1. Walk more
If you rarely walk to shop, school, workplace, or any places, start walking now! You can map a circle around your house and point necessary places nearest to you that you can achieve by walking. Walking is better for your mind, your body, and your planet.
2. Bike more
According to a 2015 study by UC Davis, 50% of global urban transportation carbon emissions could be reduced by 2050, by cutting car use and shifting more trips to bicycling. Did you know that the U.S. could reduce enough of its emissions to meet the Paris goals if they shift from car to bike just a few trips per week?
If your city has a bike-sharing system, support it! You may become a member if it’s available to keep the system on.
3. Try e-bike
Electric bikes are 10 to 20 times more energy-efficient than a car, according to research. It’s a less stressful commute and sweat-free. Try commuting with an e-bike now!
4. Use public transport
Using public transport like buses and trains is better than using our owned private vehicle. Use public transport to get to work and leisure activities. By using public transportation, you help reduce gridlock and carbon emissions.
In 2014, over 76% of U.S. commuters drove alone to work, most often in their owned vehicle. Carpooling is the sharing of car journeys so that more than one person travels in a car, and prevents the need for others to have to drive to a location themselves.
Carpool to get to work, or events that your friends are also attending. Carpools save your gas money and reduce your carbon footprint.
6. Use car-sharing service
Consider ride-sharing instead of vehicle ownership. A car-sharing service gives you the convenience of having a car without owning it. Users can pay by the minute, hour, or day to drive cars when they need them.
According to a study, access to shared cars can have a ripple effect of reducing gas use and especially carbon emissions. If you’ve already own a car, you can lend your car or borrow it from your friends or neighbor.
7. Downsize your flight class
Downsizing from first class to business class or even coach (economy) cuts down your carbon usage. First-class seats, leave carbon emissions up to nine times larger than their economy counterparts, according to a 2009 study by the World Bank.
8. Telecommuting and teleconferencing for work
Telecommuting means working remotely, working from home, or working somewhere other than in an office. According to the Telework Research Network report, 45% of the U.S. workforces jobs are suitable for part-time or full-time telecommuting. And instead of traveling by car or plane for work or business meeting, use teleconferencing.
There are around 2.9 million of U.S. telecommuters. Annually, they save 390 million gallons of gas and prevent the release of 3.6 million of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Also, a worker’s productivity is much higher when working from the comfort of home.
9. Calculate your carbon footprint
Calculate your carbon footprint to know how much transportation sector contributes to your overall carbon footprint. The average American’s annual carbon footprint is 19 metric tons. There are many carbon footprint calculator online that you can use like this.
The way we check and maintain
10. Maintain your vehicle
Maintain your car or motorcycle with regular tune-ups. Maintain your bike gear and else.
11. Don’t idle if you stop for a long time
Turn off your engine if you stop for more than 10 seconds (unless in traffic). Idling is bad for your car cause it uses fuel and for the environment cause it contributes to air pollution.
12. Inflate your vehicle tires properly
Make sure your tires are inflated properly. According to the U.S. Department of Energy report, under-inflated tires hurt the fuel economy. By keeping your tires properly inflated to the standard pressure, your gas mileage can be improved by 0.6% and up to 3% on average. Better gas mileage means a reduced carbon emissions.
13. Check your vehicle gas cap
Make sure your gas cap is not loose, cracked, or damaged. Turn gas cap until it clicks a few times. If it’s broken, your gas may be escaping from your tank as vapor. And that makes you waste your fuel. If your gas cap has logged more than 50,000 miles, replace it.
14. Wash your car in a self-serve car wash
Washing your car at home is worse for the environment. It because if you are washing it in the driveway, it can cause polluted water to run into sewers. Then you’ll likely keeping the hose running too long. And depends on how you wash your car, you might use up to 100 gallons of water at home.
Wash your car at a self-serve station that uses a coin-operated spray device. These stations use around 12 to 18 gallons of water per vehicle.
The way we reduce
15. Drive less
Car is the fastest-growing contributor to U.S. greenhouse gases. Save your car for special occasions or emergencies.
16. Fly less
The aviation industry is responsible for 2% of global emissions. In 2017, approximately 4 billion passengers got on planes.
Flying has the biggest climate impact per passenger per kilometer than any other means of transportation. One round-trip flight from New York to San Francisco accounts for 2 metric tons of carbon dioxide. For frequent-flyers, air travel takes a significant portion of their impact on climate change.
Until now, there is still no greener alternative to planes fuel but researches are still ongoing. To be noted that giving up flying altogether would be better.
17. Reduce your traveling use of car or plane
Reduce traveling by car or plane for work. Use teleconferencing for work instead. Reduce your traveling for vacation distance. Take local holidays instead.
The way we buy and replace
18. Buy a smaller or more efficient; hybrid or electric vehicle
If you need to buy a car, the smaller and more efficient the better. Or buy a hybrid or electric one. To be noted that buying fewer things and drive less in any kind of vehicle would be better.
19. Replace your car to an electric
Peak car defines as the point where car ownership has peaked and will starts to drop. The world may have passed “peak car,” according to the analysts. In the U.S., peak car could happen as soon as 2020.
By switching to an EV, it will save your money in the long run and of course, reduce your carbon emissions. It also means you’re investing in the future of a clean grid.
20. Buy carbon offsets if you fly
Buying offsets means that you support emission reduction projects.
It balance your carbon footprint. It’s offered by many carriers and experts say that it’s a valid way to even out. Even though there’s been debate over the effectiveness whether it’s effective or not effective.
Think of your carbon footprint as your cholesterol level. If your cholesterol level (carbon footprint) is high, you want it low. You might lower it by changing your lifestyle: eat healthier, avoid some foods, exercise more (eat plant-based foods, avoid meat consumption, drive less). And if it’s not enough, you might need to take medicine (buying carbon offsets) to help control your high cholesterol level.
To be noted that fly less, or giving up flying altogether would be better. Paying to plant a tree doesn’t make your flight’s carbon emissions just disappear.
• Australian Psychological Society. “101 Things You Can Do To Help Address Climate Change.” →
• Simpson, K. 2019. “50 Things You Can Do About Climate Change.” The Green Hub. May 21. →
• Sisson, P., Barber, M., Walker, A. 2019. “101 Ways to Fight Climate Change.” Curbed. October 9. →