View All Posts

Jan 03

Doing Your Part to Protect the Environment - Allison Doerfler

Posted on January 3, 2020 at 9:38 AM by Bob Lazaro

Cars in traffic

As 2019 ends and 2020 begins, we are faced with the continued challenge of defining what we can do as individuals to help with the environment.  We see companies and corporations trying to do their part, such as switching to include paper straws, charging for bags, paying customers for using reusable bags, and offering rebates for using green products.  But the question remains, what can we as individuals do to make a change that will truly make a difference in the environment?  While many of us are aware that never flying again, being a vegan, walking everywhere, composting, and relying solely on solar power are impactful ways that people can participate in to aid in positive environmental practices, those can be life-altering and may not fit into your current life situation.  While all commendable and positive goals, maybe starting smaller will be easier.  One tried and true action an individual can take to make an environmental-friendly choice changes is taking some sort of mass transit every day as you commute to and from work.  

The EPA has determined the typical passenger vehicle emits around 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.  This number, of course, varies based on the vehicle’s fuel, fuel economy, and number of miles it travels.  Now for me, the next question was what does that mean?  Is that a lot? Is that normal? I researched it and discovered this website: https://www.terrapass.com/.  You can enter your individual routine and determine how that compares to others and how many trees a year you would need to plant in order to offset that amount of carbon dioxide.  The site claims the average person in the US emits 63,934 lbs. of Co2e per year.  My yearly Co2e emission calculates to roughly 25,396 lbs. per year.  It estimates I would need to plant 295 urban trees a year to offset my footprint.  While that doesn’t paint the complete picture, it gives an idea of how much we emit yearly and its effects on the environment.  

On the other hand, each bus you see on the roads can carry anywhere between 40-80 people.  Just imagine how much less carbon dioxide is emitted because those people are not driving to work in their single-occupancy-vehicles (SOVs).  Buses are not even the only answer, you can create a carpool or a vanpool, use the metro, or ride the train, all reducing the number of SOVs on the road.  The District/Maryland/Virginia (DMV) is home to slugging, the innovation of those waiting at bus lots trying to get to work earlier.  There are a variety of options available, do some research to see which works best for you.

The cities and counties of NoVA, DC, and MD are working together to get you all out of your cars and into some sort of mass transit.  In fact, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) and local governments across metropolitan Washington established the regional Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission reduction goal of 80% below 2005 levels by 2050.  As of 2015, 40% of Northern Virginia’s GHG emissions were attributable to transportation and mobile sources.  Commit to some variation of mass transit this year and help the greater DMV area reach its goal.  Lets each do our part to save our environment and minimize our carbon footprints.

For resources, visit our transportation demand page at:

https://www.novaregion.org/1204/Transportation-Demand-Management