11 Ways To Make Personal Travel More Sustainable And Less Polluting

Unless you live, work, and play in your own neighborhood and never venture outside of it, chances are you own a car or a truck. Most American and Canadian adults own or have access to their own vehicle and use it by themselves on a regular basis. However, traveling via personal automobile is one of the least efficient ways one can get around – but what are the alternatives? Sure, your mind may go right to taking the subway or hailing a taxi, but there are many ways to make travel more sustainable and a lot less polluting. Here are 11 ways you can make your transportation needs a little more eco-friendly.

Take Public Transportation

If you live anywhere near a small or large city, you probably have access to some form of municipal public transportation. Buses, subways, and light rail trains are a viable and green way to get around.

Buy A Bike

Exercise combined with clean air and free transportation makes riding a bike a win-win for everyone. You can pick up a good used bike for under $100 and stop paying for gasoline and emitting noxious gases.

Rent A Bike

Not near home but still want to explore the area? Why not rent a bike for a few hours? Most major cities now have bike rentals available by the hour, which sure beats renting a car for the day.

Sign Up For A Carpool

Does your favorite cubicle mate live down the street? Commuting to work not only saves wear and tear on your car (and wallet) but also reduces pollution – it means there is one less car on the road.

Use Car Share

Services like ZipCar rent cars by the hour, so if you only need a ride once in a while you should consider renting one instead of paying for your own. Doing so eliminates car payments, insurance bills, and maintenance costs.

Buy A Scooter

If you want to feel the breeze in your face but are afraid of climbing up on that Harley, check out small gas or electric-powered scooters. They are incredibly fuel-efficient, cheap to buy and insure, and emit way less pollution than automobiles do.

Ride On Zero-Emission Golf Carts

There are many small neighborhoods and communities which encourage residents to use golf carts to get around instead of cars. On Catalina Island, off the coast of Los Angeles, only a few homeowners are allowed private cars; most people use electric golf carts to get around town. In my neighborhood, real estate agents buzz potential buyers to open houses on golf carts. Sure beats using gasoline every day!

Zip Along On A Motorized Bicycle

Regular bicycle too slow and a motorized scooter too fast? How about a motorized bicycle? Most of them look like regular bikes and don’t require any special licenses or insurance, but they sure make it easier to get around than pedal power sometimes does.

Ride A Skateboard

You may think you’re too old to do so, but remember how much fun they were when you were a kid? I still have mine and ride it on occasion, as it’s free transportation for slightly longer distances that emits no pollution at all.


This is my favorite mode of transport and one that I use every day. My truck doesn’t even move for days at a time, as I have access to almost everything I need within 10 blocks of my home. There are days I need the car, for sure, but ever since moving to a mostly walkable community I am finding that to be less and less.

And Finally, If You Need A New Car, Buy An EV Or Hybrid

Sometimes, it all comes down to needing your own vehicle. And when that day comes, you can’t do much better than picking up a new or late model electric or electric-gasoline hybrid car like a Prius. Sure, those new all-electric sports cars from Tesla are sexy, but they are also pricey. A new or used Prius is way under $30,000 and gets more than 50 MPG around town.

Too often, we (myself included) just head for our own vehicle when we need to go out for the day instead of thinking about other transportation options available to us. So next time, take the time to find out if there are any other more sustainable ways to get around in your community. You may be pleasantly surprised.

So, how do you get around? Is your method sustainable?


11 Ways To Make Personal Travel More Sustainable And Less Polluting — 4 Comments

  1. I, too, drive almost everywhere. My city has horrible public transportation, and hills that would make my biking more of a “watch me push my bike around” experience. I do walk everywhere I am able to, though. And carpool for things like school and roadtrips.

  2. My husband and I recently got a scooter and we love it! We only take our car out about once a week and we ride the scooter pretty much everywhere within a 10 mile radius. It gets about 100 mi/gal and we only spent $8 altogether gas last month. Of course we still use our car when we need to moe stuff, go on long trips, or when the weather is bad.

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