June 29, 2023 5 min read

Even in the new world of hybrid work, travelling to and from work is a common experience for lots of us. Unfortunately, a lot of this travel is done in private transport, which is one of the world’s biggest sources of greenhouse gases, with road vehicles – cars, trucks, buses and motorbikes – accounting for nearly three quarters of the greenhouse gas emissions that come from transportIn short, the way you get to work can have a huge impact on your carbon footprint. Both you and your employer play an important role in encouraging a greener commute, with individual and business-wide decisions helping to cut down on these emissions. In this article, we share our top ten tips for a sustainable commute to help you do just that. 

1. Reduce Car Usage

It’s low-hanging fruit, but if you can walk or bike to work instead of getting in the car, it can make a real difference. ‘Active transport’ – such as cycling, e-biking or walking – could save as much as a quarter of personal carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from transport. Other research calculated that completing five trips of 2 km a week on foot instead of in a car can decrease the amount of emissions by 86 kg a year

Not only does active transport lessen the carbon dioxide emissions, noise pollution significantly drops too. Minimal noise means that individuals experience better sleep, reduced stress levels, improved mood, less distractions at work, and a greater sense of social cohesion. 

And it doesn’t stop there! Walking is free. There is no maintenance or insurance to cover— unless you invest in a good pair of walking shoes — which means you will save money on travel costs.

2. Take Public Transport or Carpool

If you can’t walk or cycle to work, buses, trains, trams or rideshares can still help to reduce the number of vehicles on the road, cutting emissions and improving the quality of our air. Indeed, compared with driving alone, taking public transportation reduces CO2 emissions by 45%. Government research by the Department of Transport also identified that increasing car occupancy from current levels of 1.55 people to 1.7 could save the equivalent CO2 to the amount currently emitted from all UK buses in a year.

commuting emissions chart

Credit: Data from Union of Concerned Scientists, image from BBC.

3. Employee Incentive Schemes

New research has found that nearly three-quarters (70.8%) of working people want their commutes to be more sustainable, but employers play an essential role in making this happen. Without real incentives, employees are less likely to want to switch out the comfort of their car for a more sustainable commute.

  • Cycle to Work: a government initiative which means that, instead of paying for a new bike upfront, staff can spread the cost over 12 or 18 months. This can save participating employees up to 47%. 
  • Car Maintenance Salary Schemesenable staff to spread the cost of the annual MOT, servicing and repairs over 12 months. This can save up to 13.25% for standard rate taxpayers
  • Season Tickets: providing season tickets for employees or reimbursing season ticket costs to encourage employees to take public transport. 
  • Employee Discountsoffer discounts on bike parts, car maintenance, public transport or other things that encourage a more sustainable commute.

You should also check if your place of work runs their own cycle or walk to work schemes, such as offering a free coffee (in a reusable cup!) for racking up the bike miles on your commute. 

4. Disincentivize Driving

Reducing parking spaces and replacing them with e-bike stations, electric car charging points and workplace shuttles can help to disincentivize driving and encourage more sustainable forms of travel for employees who don’t rely on their car.

To make this more seamless, provide access to bike racks, showers, lockers, and other amenities so that your walking/running/cycling employees can still feel safe and secure when getting to work. Even better if you can provide eco amenities in these spaces, such as zero-waste soap and toiler paper.

You could even advocate for sustainable transport infrastructure in your area, such as bike lanes or expanded bus routes. As well as helping with the sustainable commute, this could improve everyone’s quality of life and attract new employees.

5. Embrace Hybrid Work 

Even if you’re not ready to commit to a fully remote role, embracing hybrid work within your current workplace would help to make your commute more sustainable. Less days in the office means less days on the road, and less impact on the environment. 

Or, have a look into flexible working hours. Some businesses offer the option for you to shift your schedule and go to work earlier (or later), which could stop you from sitting in rush-hour traffic and emitting emissions. Plus, this will be a better use of your time, and could have a positive impact on your mental health. 

6. Choose a Smart Route

If you do have to drive to work, try to choose routes that avoid major traffic, traffic lights, stop signs and delays, so you can take a shorter drive and spend less time on the road. 

Did you know that Google has sustainability options built into its Maps app? You can enable fuel-efficient routes which will suggest these routes by default when arrival times are similar.

7. Keep on Top of Car Maintenance 

Again, if you do have to drive to work, try to keep on top of car maintenance. As well as a better performance, a cleaner car can help to reduce your carbon emissions. This might include:

  • Regularly change oil and air filters. 
  • Ensuring that tyre pressure is correct
  • Adding a cleaning agent to the engine.
  • Use better-quality fuel. 
  • Use your air conditioning less, or on lower settings. 

You should also eliminate bad habits, such as ‘warming up’ the car before you set off and leaving your engine on when you’re idle. 

8. Create a Sustainable Culture

By promoting sustainability in the workplace, and the positive impact that this could have on the environment and your personal health, you can encourage more people to get involved. This might include:

  • Create clear sustainability goals for your workplace around active or sustainable transport alternatives.
  • Develop and distribute informational materials to educate people. 
  • Deliver workshops on sustainable commuting. 
  • Sponsor a sustainable or active transport event with prizes. 
  • Encourage flexible hours and hybrid work where possible. 
  • Implement employee incentives, such as cycle to work schemes. 

Wild & Stone's mission is to create stylish, easy to adopt and usable alternatives to common plastic products around the home. We source all our products sustainably, from raw material to final delivery. Shop our sustainable home & lifestyle products on our website, or discover our full on-the-go collection for your commute.

Share your plastic-free swaps with us at hello@wildandstone.com or tag us on Instagram #wildandstone.

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