Kicking Fossil Fuels to the Curb: One Small Change at a Time
Posted on by Isabelle Brown
Did you know that fossil fuels supply around 80% of the world’s energy? Being such an overwhelmingly dominant energy source, fossil fuels were found to be responsible for 89% of global CO2 emissions in 2019.
With the fossil fuel industry powering so much of our world, it can feel like the standard—like there’s no other way to live. But by making small changes in our daily lives, we can begin to decarbonize our lifestyles for the greater purpose of becoming less dependent on these detrimentally harmful fossil fuels.
Transportation is a large contributing factor to our carbon footprints. To kick off Earth Month, let’s talk about how we can begin the transition into sustainability in small ways while moving around our world that will lead to a greater impact.
Our personal vehicles can drag us down—They're expensive to maintain, stressful to park, dangerous to drive, and a main contributor to our individual carbon footprints. Once a symbol of personal freedom, cars now feel like a burden to many.
Electrifying the car market can begin to lighten the load on the everyday American commuter. With EV rebates available in states around the US and more affordable models being manufactured, electrification is on its way to being accessible for many Americans in the next decade.
Drive Safer and Slower
Driving techniques actually play a role in the fuel economy of our personal vehicles. Speeding is proven to increase fuel consumption, with most vehicles’ mileage decreasing rapidly at speeds over 50 miles per hour. We can drive safely and conserve fuel by maintaining speeds consistent with posted speed limits, braking and accelerating gradually, and using cruise control to not fluctuate speed on the highway.
We can also conserve fuel by avoiding heavy traffic areas and times, as stop-and-go driving consumes more gas than maintaining a consistent speed. Keeping up to date on maintenance like oil changes is another way to get the most out of your personal vehicle’s mileage.
Sharing the Ride
It’s difficult to grasp the environmental impact of driving where we need to go in our daily lives, but here are some figures to consider:
The average household uses 1,143 gallons of gas each year.
The average American spends 434 hours (that’s 18 days!) in his/her car each year.
Every car annually emits its own weight in carbon dioxide (CO2).
Driving your car 20,800 miles a year emits 23,600 lbs of CO2.
Cutting 25 miles a week from your driving saves 1,500 lbs of CO2.
The US could save 33 million gallons of gas each day if the average commuting vehicle carried one additional person.
Whenever we can choose to share the ride by taking transit or carpooling, we are working to minimize the negative impact our vehicles have on the environment. Taking a day trip into the city? Leave your car at home and take the train. Going to a work event on a Friday? Ask a group of your coworkers to ride together!
Too Tired to Drive? Try Biking!
With so many ways to move around our world, trying a new mode of transportation can enhance the journey! There has been a recent boost in biking popularity with bikeshares popping up in major cities all around the US. This type of micro-mobility program brings infrastructure to an underrepresented and environmentally friendly mode of transport and can be used to commute to work and school.
To take it even further, electric bikes are only continuing to increase in popularity. They are certainly pricier than a typical bicycle, but eliminate some of the physical barriers to joining the cycling community. E-bikes maintain the activity of pedaling but provide an electric assist when necessary, making ascending hills less strenuous. This has made biking more accessible as a form of commuting as well as for older people looking to take up biking for leisure and exercise!
Starting Small, Dreaming Big
To begin to transition our own lives to eliminate fossil fuels wherever we can, we can start with smaller but still impactful changes. The way we get around our communities is a perfect place to begin, as it is something we do every day. It takes effort, planning, and a little flexibility, but comes with a great deal of pride in yourself for making a positive change.
This Earth Month, let’s try moving a little differently!