Culture

Here's how much you'd reduce your carbon footprint by ditching the car for a day

Walking or cycling once a week instead of driving can have a significant impact.

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Your decision to walk occasionally instead of using a car really can have a positive impact on your surroundings, according to new research.

Scholars at the University of Oxford's Transport Studies Unit alongside the Imperial Center for Environmental Policy this week released their research for a project studying human-powered locomotion — or, simply put, walking — to see its impact on the natural environment. By ditching motorized transport once a week and opting for walking or biking (or e-biking) instead, the study suggests a person can save a quarter of personal carbon dioxide emissions.

It's great news for anyone trying to mitigate their carbon footprint and it might even encourage others to opt for a walk to work or biking instead of using a car. Done once a week only, according to the scholars, the effect is noticeable and encouraging.

Background — Studies centered on understanding how lifestyle changes can improve the health of our climate are not new. What makes this particular study intriguing and compelling is that scholars are attempting to understand specifically urban lifestyle changes. Instead of generalizing, the researchers have attempted to take a more pointed approach targeting people in cities and how small changes to their daily habits can have a significant influence on their natural environment.

Even a little helps — "We found that those who switch just one trip per day from car driving to cycling reduce their carbon footprint by about 0.5 tonnes over a year, representing a substantial share of average per capita CO2 emissions," said Dr. Christian Brand, the lead researcher from the University of Oxford.

"If just 10 percent of the population were to change travel behavior, the emissions savings would be around 4 percent of lifecycle CO2 emissions from all car travel."

The scholars behind the project say that reducing your carbon footprint isn't the only objective here. By encouraging city people to walk and bike more instead of driving, there will be necessary pressure on urban governments to invest in better urban infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists. A thorough move like this could help to tackle carbon emissions and social inequalities in one stride, no pun intended.