Green tip for week #4 — Week of May 25, 2008

Reduce your commuting, driving, and transportation impact.

Driving habits, particularly in America, contribute significantly to the depletion of natural resources and the environmental damage resulting from smog, pollution, and carbon dioxide emissions. In today’s economic environment where the price of fuel currently fluctuates around $3.75-$4.00 per gallon in the United States, not only do your driving habits impact the environment, but they also clearly impact your budget. Now is a great time to consider ways to improve both by reducing your consumption of fuel.

An easy way to reduce fuel consumption is to drive less. This can mean skipping an out-of-the way errand if you can combine it with another trip later in the week. Or, you can try find some alternatives to driving everywhere, which may include using a park-n-ride or similar bus or train option where you may drive to a central location and use mass-transit from there; using a carpool; or even using a bike instead of driving when and where that’s an option.

Consider a ride-share or mass transit as an alternative to getting to work, even once a week if you can’t do it more often. Or, get your exercise and reduce the harm to the environment by taking your bike to the store or to go to dinner or to the movie, rather than taking a car. Using your bike or taking a walk do some of your errands or as your mode of transportation to go to lunch or to get to a place of interest is a great way for fun, exercise, and an opportunity to enjoy the very outdoors we all want to preserve.

For families, try to incorporate exercise and reduced driving into part of your family time. For example, instead of driving the kids to the mall, the amusement park, or the movie to spend a Saturday afternoon, find a nearby neighborhood park for a picnic and outdoor games, offer to buy ice cream if the kids will bike with you to the ice cream shop, or go for a hike or nature walk.

Although we will talk about fuel efficiency and alternative energy resources in future weekly tips, one of the best ways to conserve our natural resources and to reduce our environmental impact is to reduce our consumption. Another way to reduce your fuel consumption, if you are a family with more than one vehicle, is to make a conscious effort to run your errands or take your trips in the most fuel-efficient vehicle you own, even if it is smaller. Often we default to using our most spacious and comfortable car, especially for road trips, when the more fuel efficient choice will be better environmentally and better on your budget.

Avoiding unnecessary errands by car, using mass transit, combining trips, or replacing one of your regular car treks with a bike ride can have terrific benefits, both environmentally and financially. If enough people incorporate this idea and make an effort, it will have an impact. We will talk more about hybrids, E85/flex-fuel vehicles, and other types of cost-saving or fossil-fuel saving vehicles in future posts, but reducing your consumption will always be the simplest way to reduce your cost and environmental impact.

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