Going green in our lives is all about achieving sustainability meaning we’re able to complete our day-to-day activities with a minimal impact on the environment. Making a sustainable decision about travelling is particularly significant given the impact transport has on the environment overall. The way we travel is one of the single biggest generators of CO2 and other toxic substances, a direct cause of climate change and the greenhouse effect. So making a sustainable transport choice will greatly reduce your carbon footprint.
In this article, we look what makes a mode of transport sustainable, what’s available for us to use on a daily basis – and most importantly why these forms of transport are better for the environment and for our own wellbeing.
What Is Sustainable Transport?
A transport method that’s sustainable needs to meet the requirements of the sustainable ethos, so it needs to have a minimal effect on the environment in its manufacture, fuel and by-products. It’s easy to start counting out most the gas-guzzling, emissions-creating transport modes – cars and planes, as well as buses, trains and other forms of public transport, which, while better than private vehicles, still emit CO2.
So, What Sustainable Transport Options Are Available?
According to Sustrans, a charity that campaigns to promote sustainable forms of transport, there are only really two forms of transport that truly fit the sustainable bill: "Cycling and particularly walking are the most sustainable ways of travelling. They require very little use of the planet's resources, and they are both fuelled by food, a renewable source of energy." Sustrans point out that completing many of our journeys through walking or cycling might not be as unrealistic as some of us might be inclined to think. A quarter of all car journeys, for example, are two miles or less, a distance that can easily be completed by foot or bicycle for people with an average level of fitness.
Walking – The Benefits
Walking is a completely free and simple way of getting from A to B that you can start right away. Because you don’t need to have a high level of fitness to walk short distances, it’s a great way for anyone to stay fit and healthy, or to help get in shape before taking on more vigorous forms of exercise. Walking is also good for stress relief, with a calm walk at your own pace much more relaxing than road-rage fuelled rush-hour traffic jams.
Cycling – The Benefits
Like walking, cycling is an excellent form of daily exercise, as well as being therapeutic and stress relieving compared to other forms of transport. Many towns and cities have extensive cycle lane systems in place, which help cyclists stay safe on the roads and avoid car congestion. It’s often quicker by bicycle than it is by car during peak traffic times. Buying and maintaining a bicycle is relatively inexpensive.
What Else You Can Do
If your journey is too long to be completed by foot or by cycling, using a form of public transport, such as bus, train, tram or underground, is much better for the environment than driving. Even though public transport emits CO2 and other harmful gases into the environment, the amount emitted per person is significantly reduced when there are 100+ people in a single vehicle. Where possible, finish off your journey by walking or cycling the remainder.