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Car Alternatives and Their Environmental Impacts

by Charlie FletcherJan 26th 20224 mins
Car Alternatives and Their Environmental Impacts

The number of cars on the road represents a risk to the global environment, but public transportation and other fossil fuel-powered car alternatives like bicycles and electric vehicles can help mitigate these impacts.

Did you know that the United States is one of the leading producers of greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide emissions (CO2)? There are many reasons why this is the case, such as an excess of industrialisation and a lack of education about how we should dispose of our trash. Of course, like many other countries, a major part of the problem involves the pollution that is created by the cars, trucks, and buses that get us to work, school, and the grocery store.

While many people have a desire to make a positive impact on the environment by driving less often or using a different method to get from point A to point B, some believe that climate change is a foregone conclusion, and no matter how we get around, we will still pollute our skies. But that isn’t necessarily the case. All vehicles are not created equal. Let’s talk about car alternatives and how your form of transportation can make a difference for the environment.

The Environmental Issue

In order to understand the environmental benefits of travel alternatives, you must first understand why standard trucks, vans, and SUVs are so detrimental to our world. In order to operate, cars use gasoline, which in itself is dangerous to the environment because a lot of fuel production is done through the process of fracking, which takes water from water reservoirs and emits methane into the air.

To make your car move, the gas becomes part of a chemical reaction, and the resulting combustion burns fuel, which emits dangerous CO2 into the environment. While even a single vehicle emitting dangerous chemicals is bad, consider the facts that there are over 200 million registered vehicles in the US and that the average driver goes about 14,000 miles in a year, and you can see how this pollution can quickly add up.

So, what are the car alternatives to use instead? Many people choose to go with an electric vehicle. Going electric does cut down on the release of CO2 because, instead of creating chemical reactions, electric cars instead use a lithium-ion battery. However, they still need electricity in order to charge, and electricity is created by burning fossil fuels, so you are still not driving completely clean, but it does make a difference.

You might also like: 7 Misconceptions About Electric Vehicles

Public Transportation

By opting for public transportation, you are doing a greater service for our environment than you may realise. Many people may look at a large city bus or a slow-moving train and believe that those behemoths are creating more pollution than your tiny car, but the fuel efficiency on a fully occupied bus is actually 15 times greater than your truck or SUV. 

Fewer vehicles on the road will create fewer emissions. And it’s not just that. Experts say that automobiles that are constantly in stop-and-go traffic have lower gas mileage because you are burning more gasoline. Now, compare that to a bus that makes fewer stops and doesn’t have to work as hard to stop and go, which produces less pollution.

While the train or a city bus is a good starting point, you may even have some more eco-friendly car alternatives in your city. For instance, while they won’t be in every town, consider taking a tramway. It is like a traditional train, but it runs strictly on electricity. If you prefer the bus, many cities around the world feature electric buses, which will also reduce the release of dangerous chemicals into our skies. Research your city to see what is available.

Ride Your Bike

Of course, if you really want to create as little of a carbon footprint as possible, then the best way to go is to ditch the four wheels and instead walk or ride your bike to work and around town. By riding your bike, you eliminate the need for fuel combustion. On top of that, motor vehicles also use other harmful chemicals such as antifreeze, and they are often made out of lead, which has been known to cause health problems. Bikes don’t use chemicals and they are typically made out of aluminium, which doesn’t pose the same dangers.

On the downside, biking or running to your destination can take drastically longer than in a car, so if you plan on switching to a bike, you will need to make certain considerations. For instance, you need to evaluate where to live. If you can be closer to your job, then you can bike every day and not be late. Also, if you plan to bike to work, then you will also want to choose a state with a moderate climate, so you aren’t exposed to snow or constant rain.

Also, whether you decide to rely on riding your bike or taking public transportation, you will need to take the time to think about all of the places that you need to go and if a car-free lifestyle is the smartest idea. For instance, you may only be thinking about your commute to work, but what about the location of your doctor’s office or the nearest grocery store. If those locations are miles away, then you may have to take the bus every once in a while. On that note, you will also need to know where the nearest bus stop is located, so you know if taking it is a reasonable alternative. 

In the end, just the fact that you are thinking about how you can make a difference in your daily routine to help our planet is a great and noble decision. Consider the advice above and know that you are doing your part to improve the betterment of the environment.


About the Author

Charlie Fletcher

Charlie Fletcher is a freelance writer from the lovely “city of trees”- Boise, Idaho. Her love of writing pairs with her passion for social activism and search for the truth.

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