Changing Your Footprint: A Guide to Sustainable Living Table of Contents
Changing Your Footprint: A Guide to Sustainable Living is a series consisting of 5 parts.
- Changing Your Footprint: A Guide to Sustainable Living, Pt. 1
- Changing Your Footprint: A Guide to Sustainable Living, Pt. 2
- Changing Your Footprint: A Guide to Sustainable Living, Pt. 3
- Changing Your Footprint: A Guide to Sustainable Living, Pt. 4
- Changing Your Footprint: A Guide to Sustainable Living, Pt. 5
A key tenet of energy security, an issue at the forefront of every nation, is efficiency. Not just consumer efficiency, though, but also industrial efficiency. Unfortunately, the United States finds itself with a poor ranking (actually, one that was equivalent to Austria and just slightly better than Greece).*
There’s no one way to solve this issue, but there are a number of methods that can greatly increase efficiency, especially in the United States and especially with transportation. You won’t be surprised to learn that the most inefficient use of our most “vital” resource is with transportation, according to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. In fact, although some areas of our energy industry are only wasting 20 percent of their energy, “the transportation sector wastes a full 75%, making it just 25% energy-efficient.”
So while 20 percent is no good either, starting with transportation may be perfect for quick results.
Petroleum: What Fuels Transportation
First, let’s take a quick look at the heart and soul of transportation: fuel. Although other types of fuel exist, petroleum is – by far – our most used resource when it comes to running our cars. In fact, petroleum is our most used resource of all, accounting for about 40 percent of energy in our energy model.
While it is a major part of our lives, though, doesn’t mean it isn’t without issue. Besides being a source of harmful pollutants and green house gases, petroleum also requires environmentally taxing extraction (which sometimes goes awry, like in the Gulf of Mexico). Plus, because everyone needs it, it is a fought after resource. Spikes in price are never far away.
Go Your Own Way! Alternative forms of Transit
Just because the situation is bleak, though, doesn’t mean you have to stop going from point A to point B. In fact, there are a number of alternative forms of transportation that benefit both the environment and you.
Public Transit: One great choice is to ride public transportation. I did this for basically my entire college career, and although there were a few crazies along the way (keep in mind I live in LA), I think the experience well was worth it. I’d even do it again! Either way, this makes for much more efficient travel than a personal SUV, that’s for sure.
Carpooling is a similar vein to this. Get a group together from the office or volunteer to pick up the neighbors kids. This helps with emissions and use, and even allows you to make some new friends along the way!
Your Body: Perhaps even better than public transit is running, biking, skateboarding, or anything else that requires you to move your body. Not only does this has zero emissions, making it the best choice in travel, but it is beneficial for your health. Aerobics are good for any person at any age, so why not make running your daily to-do on the way to work?
Hybrids and Electrics: If you do have a car (or are about to get one), considering trading for/buying a hybrid or an electric. Despite these coming with a few catches themselves, they save a ton of resources. One car manufacturer actually just released a hybrid that can on every fuel type, even though not yet in the mainstream – like algae biofuel, for example. If you’re going with a car, think green!
Be clean, be green
When it comes to clean transportation, be as green as possible. Minimize use, maximize your own body, and always look for good alternatives. Next in the guide, we’ll take a look at the general category of resources. This includes water, food, and other natural resources we as a people need to move forward.
Ask yourself, can we continue to progress without using as much energy? Find out in part 4 of our guide!
*Sovacool, Benjamin K and Marilyn A. Brown. (2010, Aug 10). “Competing Dimensions of Energy Security: An International Perspective.” Annual Reviews, Vol 35. 77-108.