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Wiser Living

Finding a natural solution

Green Your Life: An Eco-Friendlier Commute

by Dani Hurst

Tags: green commuting, green your life, dani hurst, green commute,

I love green.

They say geniuses pick green (and even though I don’t know who “they” are, I can certainly get on board with that). But beyond that, green just has a bright, likeable quality that fits very well into my life. Which is convenient because, not only does it adorn about 90 percent of my belongings, but now, as a brand spanking new intern for Natural Home magazine, it’s also my job. That is, it’s my job to bring to the public sensible tips on how to green your life in bite-size bits that are easy to incorporate into every day life.

In honor of my new job, I’d like to start with tips about how to make commuting a little greener. I live in Lawrence, Kansas, but my internship is in Topeka, so I commute about 120 miles a week (60 miles round trip, twice a week.) I don’t own a hybrid or electric car, but I’ve found plenty of ways to make commuting a bit less burdensome on the planet.

• Whenever possible, walk or bike to work. Neither of these modes of transportation uses fuel, thus they emit no pollution. Plus, they’re good for the body, and both allow you to take in the scenery around you. There are even some programs that work with companies to encourage employees to walk or carpool to work. Check out CommuterChoice for more info.

• If your work is too far away to walk or bike to, you can look into getting a scooter or electric bike. Here is a blog post from Scientific American explaining their benefits.

No matter how green you might want to be, though, reality sets in at some point, often making it too difficult and inconvenient to follow the above advice. I feel you, people. I have two jobs, and neither one is within walking or biking distance. However, there are still ways to commute that you can feel good about.

Greener Commute

• Use public transportation as often as possible. If no buses run a route you need, try setting up a carpool with some fellow employees. This will help cut down on the number of cars heading in the same direction, and will save everyone a little gas money (as long as everyone pitches in).

• Driving the speed limit (say, 65 mph) will help keep your tailpipe pollution to a minimum. The faster you go, the less efficiently your car runs. Plus, burning rubber on the highway only saves you a few minutes, when some careful planning could eliminate your need to speed.

• Instead of immediately running your A/C while driving around town, try using your car's air vents or rolling down the windows and enjoying the breeze. It’s a free, fresh and pollutant-free way to cool down on the go. While rolling down the windows works well for driving short distances, there is a bit of disagreement about whether or not it is as efficient for longer trips or highway driving. Articles from the California Energy Commission and Mother Earth News both offer good info about it, so you can make an informed decision.

For the latest car ratings and to view more green driving tips, visit Greener Cars.