All this week, we’ve been looking at ways to be more sustainable. On Monday OU students told us their favourite meat-free dishes. On Wednesday, they showed off their recycled creations and told us their best tips for recycling better. Today, to wrap up Sustainability Week here on The Hoot, we’re looking at something which affects us all: transport.
Did you know? Cars are a major polluter and currently account for 60.7% of the total CO2 emissions from road transport in Europe. Furthermore, 72% of transport emissions come from road transportation. With the number of people who are mobile increasing rapidly, those numbers will only continue to rise. That's quite scary when you think about it! Fortunately, there are plenty of very easy alternatives to driving that can help reduce your carbon footprint. Here are our five best suggestions, along with some facts to accompany them!
1 A wheelie good alternative - Walking/Cycling
By choosing to leave the car at home and walking or cycling to your destination, you’ll be making an easy decision with immediate results. It's also very cost-effective - not only do you save money on petrol, but by simply walking or cycling about you won't be spending any money at all! Of course, that's not even mentioning the obvious health benefits of getting out and walking or cycling.
Better yet? According to the European Cyclists Federation, riding your bike accounts for about 21 g of CO2 emissions per kilometer – more than ten times less than a car! With bike lanes becoming more and more prevalent, why not give it a go this week and opt to leave the car at home?
2 Choo-choo-choose trains - Trains
While they may sometimes (always) infuriate us with delays or cancellations, you can't disagree that trains are universally very helpful for getting around. Furthermore, they are also far more environmentally-friendly than cars - in a hypothetical journey from London to Edinburgh, a standard petrol car would omit roughly 120kg of CO2 emissions (assuming there is was just one person in the car, as multiple occupancies would reduce the level of emissions). A train, however? Just 29kg per person!
Unfortunately, though, trains can be quite costly depending on where you head to - especially for longer journeys. On average, however, it would still cost you roughly the same amount to fuel up your car for the same journey. For those shorter journeys, however, there is an even better alternative than train...
3 What's all the Bus about? - Bus
Can't reach your destination via walking or cycling? Planning a short journey that is proving expensive via train? Consider taking the bus instead! Although modern cars are considered a cleaner mode of transport if shared (rather being driven alone), an average of just 1.7 people per car in Europe means that other modes of shared transport, such as buses, are currently a cleaner alternative. Furthermore, some places around the world have even invested in cleaner, greener, buses - in London, UK, all their double-deck buses are planned to be hybrid by the year's end, and all single-deck buses will emit zero exhaust emissions by 2020. By 2037, they even plan to have all 9,200 buses across London be zero emission!
Buses are generally much cheaper, too - especially for short journeys. Buses generally charge you on a per-mile or km basis, compared to cars which actually burn more fuel in the early part of a trip. That's of course not even considering the absolute hassle of finding a parking place, and the unpleasant shock of seeing how much it costs to park there, even for just a short amount of time. With this all in mind, why not give the bus a go next week? You might just save yourself a few pennies you never knew you had!
4 Few and car between - Car-Pooling
While cycling is a brilliant way to get somewhere while also being environmentally friendly, we wouldn't suggest you follow the Lego Stormtroopers lead here and have you and your friends hop on a bike together. You could, however, car-pool (or car-share, as it's sometimes known). After all, we've all been there - sometimes it just isn't possible to reach your destination without a car, even with buses and trains being available. Instead, consider organising a car-pool system with a few friends or work colleagues, especially if you're all heading to the same destination! According to intelligentransport.com, car-pooling can actually save more than 1.6 million tonnes of CO2 per year - crazy, right? Nowadays, some places are even reserving parking slots specifically for car-pools (such as right here on the main OU campus in Milton Keynes!)
5 And the best suggestion for last - work from home (where you can)!
While this option certainly isn't for everyone, consider working from home where you can to really reduce your carbon emissions! After all, what's the best way to reduce your CO2 output than to just not hop in a car at all! Of course, for our OU students, remember all of your course materials are online, meaning you can study at home comfortably without needing to head anywhere!
That's all, folks!
With that, we wrap up our series of articles on The Hoot for Sustainability Week. We hope you've learnt something from them and plan to consider trying out a few of our suggestions, whether that's having your own Meat-Free Monday every week or perhaps just taking the bus into work! Sustainability Week at the OU concludes officially tomorrow on The Open University's Facebook and Twitter pages with Facilities Friday, so make sure tune in there to find out more!