10 ways to lower the environmental impact of your commute

As more people are returning to the office a bit more often, or are at least venturing out of the house to work at co-working spaces, or coffeeshops, etc, we're seeing the return of the dreaded commute.

At Tidy we believe that the best way of lowering our collective environmental impact is for everyone to make a few small changes to their lifestyles. Like making the switch to solid shampoo, or minimising the impact of their commute.

We don't need a few folks living a "prefect" eco-friendly lifestyle, we need everyone to start with doing just a one thing differently and building from there.

That would have a much wider, more immediate impact.

That would be tidy.

When it comes to the commuting, there are many simple changes we can make to reduce our impact on the environment. Here are our top ten:


1. Walk or cycle

With fewer cars on the road during lockdowns and more people working from home during the pandemic, millions of us were walking and cycling more than ever before.

As lockdowns have ended and more folks are heading to work out of the house again, it's worth thinking about keeping up the walking or cycling in place of the drive or train / bus to work.

While not practical for everyone due to the distances involved, if you can walk or cycle to work you'll save money on fuel (if you'd normally drive), get some extra exercise twice a day and reduce the number of vehicles on the roads.

Do more, use less. That's a win in our book!


2. Train > Bus > Car share > Drive

If walking or cycling aren't options for your commute, think carefully about which method of motorised transport to work will have to lowest impact overall.

The BBC have a good chart that shows the carbon emissions of different types of transport compared to driving here: How our daily travel harms the planet.

(Note: with more bus companies around the country using hydrogen or electric buses, their emission's data may be slightly out of date)

If you have to drive, try car sharing with a colleague or two, or three. You'll lower your collective impact and you can split the fuel costs - not a bad option given the recent price rises.


3. Drive using less fuel

Whether you carpool, or drive solo how you drive makes a big difference to your fuel consumption and emissions. Obviously, if you have the option to drive an electric car, your emissions will be lower. But both electric cars and "ICE" (internal combustion engine) cars will benefit from a careful driving style that conserves momentum and speed where appropriate. Some electric car drivers get significantly more miles per charge than others. In the same way, ICE drivers can get more miles per litre / gallon with considered driving.

Also; if your car has an "eco mode" use it and it will automatically help to maximise your efficiency.


4. Use a smaller car

If you're a family lucky enough to have 2 (or more!) cars; use the smallest for your commute. Or the most efficient...

It's an obvious tip, but one that not everyone thinks about.


5. Turn off the air con, or minimise the fuel required to run it

Our final driver related tip: while driving in the warmer months of the year, especially on the homeward bound leg of a commute, air conditioning can be a god send. But cooling your car uses extra fuel. How you use it can influence how much extra...

If your car's been parked in the baking heat all day, blasting the air con to get to a comfortable temperature takes a lot of energy.

Lowering your windows before turning on the air con can help. The air in your car is likely to be hotter than the air outside after a day of baking, so lowering the windows to let some fresh air in before cooling it with air con will (in most cases) cut the number of degrees your car is fighting to cool.

Once cooler, close the windows and hit the button with the picture of a car and an arrow on it to circulate the air within your vehicle. This will save your car having to cool outside air, further reducing your energy consumption.


6. Work From Home. Or somewhere more local

Of course, if you can work from home, zero commute equals zero impact...

Remember "working remotely" doesn't have to mean "working from home". If you're not a fan of the WFH life, it's not a choice of home or office. Try a local coffeeshop or co-working space instead. A shorter commute beats a longer commute on every level.


7. Take a reusable coffee cup

A lot of folks do this now, but it's worth highlighting: taking a reusable coffee cup for your commuting caffeine hit is much better than using a take out cup.


8. Use a reusable water bottle

Likewise, if H2O or juices, smoothies, etc are more your thing while commuting take a reusable bottle rather than use take out containers.


9. Recycle and bin your litter

If you do have to use single use cups, bottles, containers for your commuting drinks and foods, take your litter with you and recycle it where you can.

If you're using public transport, try to leave your seat / table / etc in the state you'd like to find it.

This should go without saying, but we've all seen the rubbish a minority leave on busses, trains and at stations, etc...


10. Look out for "catalytic clothing" that will clean the air around you

Finally, one to keep an eye on for the future.

In 2011 scientists and fashion designers teamed up to develop a technology that could help you reduce air pollution by just walking down the street.

It involves washing titanium dioxide into your clothes using a modified fabric conditioner. Once dry treated clothes will start to absorb nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds from the air around them.

Unfortunately there have been no updates since 2018 on their website, but if our clothes could help clean the air in our towns and cities, then just by walking around (dressed 🫣) we'd each be able to have a positive impact on our environment, not just reduce our impact.

Now that would be Tidy.

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