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Cutting carbon out of your daily commute

Daily commute blog header

With the transportation sector contributing 39.7% of state carbon dioxide emissions in Rhode Island and 49.4% in Massachusetts, we find the topic of transportation emissions especially urgent. Getting places requires energy, right? But some ways are less carbon intensive than others. We at Green Energy Consumers wanted to share the ways in which we all commute to work. And we would like to emphasize one thing above all else - it's essential that public transportation be given more support by all of us - politicians, taxpayers, those who use use public transit, and those who do not. When buses and subways work well, we all benefit.

Yaima Braga, Energy Programs Manager 

At first, I started biking to work because there was no convenient way to get to our Jamaica Plain office from Brookline using the T. But what I soon realized was that biking to work was more than just a quick way to get from A to B.  Besides doing something good for the environment, it is a way of challenging yourself every day that allows you to be present. I love it so much that I even bike to work when it’s below freezing!


Yaima’s all season bike route.

Loie Hayes, Membership Coordinator

Biking: I’m fortunate to live just at 10-minute bike ride away from my work. Plus, there’s a bike path for most of my route, so I hardly interact with cars. I love saying hi to other regular bike commuters and stopping to catch up with news from old friends. It’s just as fast as driving and I get my heart pumping twice a day; definitely more fun that the gym.

Driving: On days when I have long-distance errands or bulky loads, I pile everything into my Chevy Bolt and pull silently and smoothly away from the curb. It is such as sweet ride. And I love that when I drive my Bolt, I’m not adding exhaust to  my neighborhood streets and greenhouse gas to our atmosphere.

Loie Transportation

Loie with her bicycle and Chevy Bolt.

Phil Lindsay, Oil Program Director

I have been riding a bicycle from Dorchester to Jamaica Plain as my primary transportation mode for most of the past 15 years. One might think the ride would be fraught with road danger thanks to people in cars recklessly cutting through the neighborhoods to get to or from town. However, nearly a third of my ride home is through Franklin Park and it is for sure the most relaxing and enjoyable portion of my day. Absolutely no cars (electric or otherwise) and just the chipmunks and other wildlife.

While most of us have a sense of auto-dependence, perhaps we should all explore more active transportation alternatives in the city where the distances (4.5 miles my ride) are small and the positive impacts great when the only energy being burnt is human generated. I save nearly a half a gallon of gasoline per day and I’ve lost 40 pounds over the past 15 years of riding daily. No one driving a car can make that claim.

Phil's bike route

Picture of Phil’s bike route.

Mal Skowron, Program Associate

I look forward to making my 2-mile commute by bike every day. Biking is faster than driving through downtown, and I love having exercise and fresh air built into my daily routine. It’s an easy (and cost-effective!) way to reduce my carbon footprint.

I’ve been taking advantage of the electric bike share program in Providence so I don’t have to worry about protecting my own bike from road salt and snow. Winter biking is more pleasant than you might think. I’m cold for about 30 seconds, but once I start pedaling and my heart rate rises, it’s a really comfortable ride home. If you’ve never biked to work but live within a few miles of the office, you’re missing out!


Mal outside the office with a Jump Bike.

Pua Higginson, Program Coordinator

Taking the T is the easiest and most immediate way for me to reduce my carbon footprint. I’m fortunate to have public transport get me where I need to go: work is 5 stops away on the orange line, my immediate family lives in Cambridge (easy to get to via the red line), and my gym & grocery store are walking-distance from my apartment. My daily/weekly routines are made easy with the T and I’m happy I can contribute to making Boston a better and less traffic-congested place.

Anna Vanderspek, Energy Programs Manager

I grew up walking to school and taking the T basically everywhere else. Having learned about (and been terrified of) climate change in elementary and middle school, I made it my personal mission early on to never own a car, if I could. Now, I commute to work by bus and train, walk/bus to get my groceries, and take a Zipcar (or, preferably, borrow my parents’ all-electric Chevy Bolt) in those instances where I do need a car. I honestly feel very lucky that I can live my life this way (despite occasional grumbling about crowded buses or delays on the orange line) because I know not everybody has access to public transportation or important things like grocery stores within walking distance. And, instead of sitting in traffic in every day, I get to use my commute time in the bus/train to look out the window, people-watch, read, or otherwise actively try to be present – no worrying about to-dos allowed. Now I know that if I ever do get a car, it’ll have to be a plug-in, but for now, I’ll keep walking and busing as long as I can!

Katy Kidwell, Energy Programs Manager
(Katy works remotely from California)

I don't drive much since I live downtown and don't commute, but when I do, the Nissan LEAF is great! No gas to run errands. And I green my electricity with my municipal electric company, so it's zero emission too. 

I do a bowling league every Monday and I always offer to carpool with my teammates since I have no gas cost. Plus, public chargers are everywhere around Sacramento, so when we do weekend outings like wine tasting or hiking, I can take the LEAF and top up whenever needed.

Katy's Nissan Leaf

Katy's Nissan LEAF

Mikaela Hondros-McCarthy, Finance Director

I bought my Chevy Volt used about 3 years ago and it has been a great first electric car for me. I was able to get an EV without really worrying about running out of range since it uses gas, too. I loved being able to cut down on my gas usage but hope to go all electric soon and be done with gas stations for good. My favorite part of the car is the efficiency of the regenerative brakes. I barely need to touch the brakes since the car slows itself down and uses the energy for more battery power. The convenient EV charging parking spots are always nice, too!

Mikaela Volt Picture (2)

Mikaela with her Chevy Volt

Larry Chretien, Executive Director

In 2014, I shopped for an electric car and was so happy with my Chevy Volt, we decided to start an EV buyer's group here at Green Energy Consumers.Then I got a Bolt to keep the Volt company. So I commute on the wind with zero emissions!

Larry Bolt Volt 2

Larry's daughter with his Bolt and Volt.

Devan DiLibero, Program Associate

Last but not least, I drive a Toyota Prius. As you know, it gets great mileage. But when it's days are done, I'll go electric!

Now that you know our routines, tell us about yours in the comments. Maybe you’ll want to start riding your bike to work like Mal or take public transit like Pua.

 P.S. if you are stuck driving to work, you can still reduce your carbon footprint by driving an electric car! Sign-up for a test drive through our Drive Green program to get the process started today!

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