How to Make Your Errands More Environmentally Friendly
Like many parents, your days can often seem like an endless stream of errands, pick-ups and drop-offs. You’re in the car so much that you’ve actually started to worry about your environmental impact in a serious way. Perhaps you’ve read that vehicles produce about one-third of the air pollution in the United States, or about the ecological impact of petroleum extraction. The truth is that if you are environmentally conscious, you should be thinking about ways you can change your own habits to have a smaller environmental footprint. Here are six ways to make those endless errands more environmentally friendly.
1. Start with Your Car
The majority of a car’s environmental impact comes from fuel consumption and emissions. That means that you control your car’s environmental footprint by limiting your fuel consumption. One major way to do that is by investing in a hybrid vehicle. For a family, the hybrid version of the Chrysler Pacifica minivan offers the best of both worlds. You get a spacious and flexible minivan that can run for 33 miles solely on electric power, and has an 84 mpg-e rating from the EPA. That means that if your Pacifica is fully charged you can most likely use zero gas while running your errands.
2. Consolidate Trips
Plan out your outings for the week as much as you can and find ways to combine errands. Do you really need to go to a separate store for paper products and produce? Can you manage with one trip to the grocery store, rather than three? Using a family management tool like Cozi, which allows you to create a shared family calendar, shopping and to-do lists, can help you see what trips you’ll need to make during the week ahead and consolidate accordingly.
3. Drive at Non-peak Hours
The time of day you drive also makes a difference, because the longer you are stuck in traffic, the more fuel you’ll use. If possible, run errands at non-peak hours.
Sync up with co-workers to commute together, neighbors to coordinate carpools for pick-ups and drop-offs and with friends for running errands. Going to the grocery store with a friend not only saves fuel, but can be a surprisingly fun way to socialize in often over-scheduled lives.
5. Buy Local
When you buy locally grown food, you are reducing your environmental impact in several ways. Locally produced products do not travel, or require shipping facilities, packing facilities or refrigeration (in the case of some food products), all of which have a huge environmental footprint. Supporting locally grown food means supporting local farmers, which in turn protects local land and wildlife from development. Local food is also quicker to go from farm to table, which means it is less likely to spoil in transit. It also creates less food waste, which is often an issue with food grown outside of the country.
6. Bring Your Own Bags
When shopping, bring reusable shopping bags. Only one percent of plastic shopping bags are ever recycled, meaning that the rest go to landfills, or, as is often the case, into the water. It’s estimated that one million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals die from plastic in the ocean every year. Not only are reusable shopping bags affordable, practical and environmentally friendly, but they can stylish as well.
Because moms shop and for more people than just themselves, making their many duties and purchases seem green may appear difficult. However, by embracing some of the above tips, you can succeed in reducing your carbon footprint while setting a good example and, perhaps best of all, saving money.