How big is the problem?
If you’re looking for ways to reduce your impact on the environment, looking at how you travel is a good place to start. This is because, for the average person in the UK, private car travel creates almost a third of our carbon footprint. This puts it in second place after heating our homes. Not far behind car travel is holiday air travel, which creates about 12% of our emissions of climate changing gases. This may not seem like much, but considering we may only spend a few hours each year actually flying, you can see how the impact of air travel is very serious. Plus, air travel is one of the fastest growing sources of carbon emissions.
Where can we start?
We all need – and want – to travel, and it can seem that making changes to our travel habits will have a major impact on our lifestyle, making our lives really miserable and difficult. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Small changes to our travel habits can make big improvements to the environment, and can actually improve our quality of life. Read on!
Reducing private car travel not only helps to bring down greenhouse gas emissions, but also improves local air quality and makes our streets quieter and safer. With more people getting out and about walking, cycling or using public transport, we can create friendlier, healthier communities. And, anyone who lives under a flight path or near an airport will likely agree that fewer flights would make their lives more peaceful!
What are the alternatives?
We’re not saying scrap your car and cycle everywhere immediately. But, by replacing short car journeys with a sustainable alternative you can start to feel the benefits.
A third of our daily journeys are less than a mile away, so walking, cycling, running and scooting could be a great alternative to getting in the car. Active travel can make you feel better, reduce and avoid air pollution, benefit your health, and all with no carbon emissions. Cycling is cheap, quick, it keeps you fit – and, it’s usually a lot easier to find a bike rack than it is to find a parking space. Why not dust the cobwebs from your bike, pump up the tyres and give it a go? Cycling can seem daunting at first but there are lots of resources online for getting started. Have a look at the MyJourney Hampshire and Sustrans websites for more on active travel.
Using public transport like buses and trains reduces congestion by getting more cars off the road, which helps with air pollution and carbon emissions, removes some of the stress of driving in traffic and gives you an opportunity to read a book or catch up on a TV show or podcast. Check out the MyJourney Hampshire website for local public transport links and journey planning.
The average UK commuter would save around £220 and 470kgCO2 by sharing their commute with two other drivers. Could you set up a car sharing scheme at your place of work, or join forces with other parents to transport the kids to school? This could save you money and give you a chance to get to know new people. Car clubs or car/van hire are a good alternative to owning and running your own car. More on car clubs and car-sharing on the Sustrans website.
It may not be possible to ditch the car completely, but remember that if you do drive you can easily reduce your impact by doing a bit of ‘smarter driving’. This means getting more miles to the gallon by:
- Keeping your car in tip top condition: checking your tyre pressure regularly and keeping up to date with services.
- Driving more slowly, especially as you approach junctions and traffic lights – less accelerating and breaking means less fuel burnt up.
- Use your gears correctly – change up or down at between 1500-2000 revs to get the best out of your engine.
Planning a holiday?
Every year, more and more people from Britain take their holiday’s abroad, often taking advantage of cheap package deals or last minute flight price reductions. Surely this also means more and more people every year are missing out on exploring the forgotten corners of our beautiful islands…is a generation of worldwide travellers growing up who haven’t found their way around Great Britain?!
Next time you’re planning a holiday, why not take a trip to somewhere you’ve never been before in Great Britain? British weather may not be particularly reliable, but the scenery certainly makes up for it. From the White Cliffs of Dover to the Highlands of Scotland, ancient woodlands to historic cities, sandy beaches to remote moorlands; there is an amazing variety of things to see and do on these isles. Find inspiration for your “staycation” at Visit Britain.
Promoting Sustainable Travel
- ACT TravelWise ACT TravelWise is the UK’s premier network for all organisations working to promote sustainable travel.
- CIVITAS Initiative The CIVITAS Initiative helps cities to achieve a more sustainable, clean and energy efficient urban transport system by implementing and evaluating an ambitious, integrated set of technology and policy based measures.
- Department for Transport (DfT) The Department for Transport’s aim is transport that works for everyone. This means a transport system which balances the needs of the economy, the environment and society. The Department for Transport provides leadership across the transport sector to achieve its objectives, working with regional, local and private sector partners to deliver many of the services. This section contains information on the Department’s aims and objectives, its organisational structure, and the responsibilities of the various affiliated agencies.
- The Environmental Transport Association (ETA) ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical motoring organisation and sustainable travel lobby group. Its aim is to raise awareness of the impact of excessive car use and help individuals and organisations to make positive changes in their travel habits.
- Living Streets Living Streets is the UK charity for everyday walking. Their ambition is to get people of all generations to enjoy the benefits that this simple act brings and to ensure all our streets are fit for walking.
- Manual for Street Manual for Streets provides guidance for practitioners involved in the planning, design, provision and approval of new residential streets, and modifications to existing ones.
- MyJourney Workplaces Promoting active and sustainable travel at your workplace.
- Sustrans Sustrans is the UK’s leading sustainable transport charity.