Zero Footprint Week – Transport

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Transport: How we get from A to B. 

Before man invented the wheel, the only choices we had were shanks pony (our feet), and riding animals.  Both modes of transport were and still are, extremely low carbon.  Then we invented the wheel which for thousands of years were attached to various types of vehicles that were pulled/pushed by humans or animals allowing for greater loads to be carried.  Once again, very low carbon options.

Then the steam engine was invented in the early 1700′s and it took George Stephenson to put wheels on it in the form of the Rocket,  thus began the industrial revolution and the beginning of the human race’s addiction to burning fossil fuels. 

Then, with the discovery of oil and the refining process, and the subsequent invention of the internal combustion engine, it all quickly went to custard.  Cars were relatively rare early on, and it wasn’t until Henry Ford invented the production line method of manufacturing cars making them affordable to the masses, did the automobile have any real environmental impact.  From that day in 1908, carbon emissions have been increasing exponentially  ever since.

So now we know a little history behind transportation, what can we do to reduce our own personal carbon footprint in this area?  Well here are three tips that will help you achieve this goal.

Walk, Cycle or Use Public Transport
A trip to the shop or the beach can be much more enjoyable if you leave the car at home and walk or cycle.  Not only do you save money on petrol, but you can also save time spent waiting in traffic and looking for a car park.  Also remember that kids have legs, and as they begin to look for more responsibility, let them ride or walk to school instead of you being the local taxi service or if they are too little, then walk to school with them.  I used to have a neighbour who’s drove her kids to the same school as Ben, and when I left for school at the same time as her, I actually used to beat her to the classroom, and then win the race back home as well.  We are only talking 1km here people.  So many people forget to factor in the hassle of parking, that they get much  more stressed than I ever would walking, and all because of pure laziness.  You also would not believe how many people actually drop their kids off in their pyjamas that also live very close to the school.  Obviously, none are too worried about their carbon footprint and too eager to get straight back in to bed when they get home!  Which leads me to the next tip.

Drive Smart
Making sure your car is healthy and planning trips ahead of time for maximum efficiency can save on time, money and carbon.  Planning trips will save you a lot of money.  Why do two trips when one will suffice?  When I go out on errands for Kim, she writes me a list of things to do and get, and the places to visit.  I then map the best route out in my head so that I don’t have to backtrack and waste any fuel.  Also, don’t skip on the maintenance.  Make sure your tires are inflated as per the manufacturers recommendations.  Flat tyres increase rolling resistance, and you burn more fuel.  Regular services ensure that the engine is at peak performance and not struggling by moving thicker dirty oil around its block.  This also burns more fuel.  I also find that by accelerating gently from a standstill, I save a lot of fuel.  In my hybrid, it can make the difference of 2 litres per 100km if I have a lead foot for a few hours.  Just think what that is like in a normal car! 

Choosing your next car on the basis of fuel efficiency also helps. Visit www.greenvehicleguide.gov.au to find out more about choosing a more eco-friendly car.  I have notice of late that there are so many V6 and V8 cars for sale on the side of the road around our town.  Even now that fuel prices have gone down a bit from before the global recession started, people are still ditching these gas guzzlers in droves.  I know it is not because everyone in my town has suddenly become environmental superheroes, it is just that the price of fuel is cutting into the household budget more than it used to.  Even by buying a second hand 4 cylinder car, you will reap the environmental benefits and lower your carbon footprint.

Try Car Pooling
Sometimes you need to drive to work, but why not have some company while you do so?  Driving to work with your fellow employees saves money, fuel and stress on your car.  For more information visit http://www.travelsmart.gov.au/links/.  Hey, what a cool link.  Thanks Zero Footprint Week site!  I have asked so many people in my town who work in the same building as me if they want to car pool, and I always get some lame excuse.  I am quite happy to do all the driving, because I have to pay for the lease anyway and have to do a ludicrous amount of kilometres per year to get a tax benefit.  But, alas no one want to share my green trip in with me :(

I will definitely be checking out the travel smart site to see if there are any tips on getting fellow travellers in my area.  Share the love I say! 


Tomorrows post will be about Sustainable Gardening, and how you can reduce your carbon footprint in this area. 

Keep an eye on the official Zero Footprint Week web site for more tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint during the week.

See you all tomorrow for the last post on Zero Footprint Week!

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