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“Commute Without Polluting”

2009 September 24

Hey Pick 5ers, it’s time again for you to share what you’ve done, how you did it, etc.  Today we cover action #2: commute without polluting. Please share your stories as comments below. If you haven’t done it yet, Pick 5 for the Environment and then come back to comment (you can also still share how you save water !).

My experience with commuting without polluting may be a little different than others. I live in a rural area, where there’s no rapid transit. We do have a commuter bus, but it runs only during the week. A lot of places I’m unable to walk to, but I ride my bike to the post office and the local grocery store. I make my trips in the car count, like I make my necessary stops along my route coming home from work. Keeping my car well maintained saves me money on fuel and also helps cut air pollution from my car.

Now it’s your turn: How do you commute without polluting? If you’re not sure how, learn more on EPA’s site.
Note: to ward off advertisers using our blog as a platform, we don’t allow specific product endorsements.  But feel free to suggest Web sites that review products, suggest types of products, and share your experiences using them!

About the author: Denise Owens has worked at EPA for over twenty years. She is currently working in the Office of Public Affairs in Washington, DC.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

35 Responses leave one →
  1. Richard Albores permalink
    September 24, 2009

    I am an EPA employee who has worked for the Agency for over 15 years. I try to commute to work by bike everyday, rain, snow, or shine, but not ice.

    I live about 9 miles from the offices in downtown DC. It takes me approximately 35 minutes to get to work, and 45 to get home (uphill). When it is not ideal for me to ride all the way in due to meetings in other buildings/offices, or after work engagements such as school PTA meetings, I ride my bike to the METRO (1 mile) and take the METRO to work.

    That’s how I minimize my carbon footprint when I commute.

  2. Jessica permalink
    September 24, 2009

    I live in NYC, so it’s easy to bring this principle to life every day! I walk whenever possible. We also have an excellent subway system here, and I use it to get everywhere, including to and from work every day. When I moved here I was (happily) able to sell my car. So even when I take trips outside the city, I try to use public transit options as much as possible — trains to get to nearby cities, buses or carpooling with other friends going in the same direction. I’m happy to say I haven’t driven a car for quite some time now, and am proud to make this commitment to the environment. On a side note, my commuting experiences also provide endless hours of people-watching and sometimes some very high-quality in-train musical entertainment! So the benefits of mass transit are endless. When I complete graduate school and begin searching for a new job and potentially a new city, I know accessibility of the public transit system will be one of my top requirements for these reasons and more. I really hope the idea of more “walkable” communities catches on too — I’d love to continue taking advantage of the cleanest, healthiest form of transit on the planet!

  3. Rene permalink
    September 24, 2009

    I ride my bike to work everyday, which adds up to 50 miles per week, plus various errands including grocery shopping. To get across the bridge, I take the bus. Great way to stay fit and spare the air everyday.

  4. Linda permalink
    September 24, 2009

    Sadly, I live in a rural area where mass transit isn’t available, and I have an odd-ball schedule that makes carpooling impractical.

    Those challenges aside, I try to keep my car in tip-top condition so that I get the best mileage I can. Combining trips has been second nature to me for a very long time (who wants to go back out once they finally get home?). And I try to keep the “extras” I carry to a minimum–just a small kit of automotive essentials such as jumper cables, a first aid kit, and a little toolkit to cope with roadside repairs.

    When it’s lunch time, I join up with several co-workers so we can take one car; we love the time spent together, so it’s not a chore to share the ride.

    On weekends, we’re happy to stay close to home; we shop locally, rather than driving to the city, and a lot of shopping is done on line these days.

  5. Jackenson Durand permalink
    September 24, 2009

    I am not an EPA employee yet but, I can not wait to join the staff.
    I improve a great passion for environmental, this is a something back to my childhood by have been growing up in great Eco-systemic environment Island.
    As a current US resident, I would to see a greener environment.
    This is hard to protect environment in some area, when you are living with different people, with different approach ideology, this becomes harder to convince.
    -I was trying to teach at home, how to leave sink with less water.
    -I was doing a professional accounting by using public transportation to better protect environment as well; for others you are not too ok.
    -I was always trying to save energy at my house, this one is costing to go to………..
    – As a parent, it would better to keep chemicals’ cleaners where kids can never reach them.
    – I was spreading the word, many people are afraid of flowers; even in a date that was causing a matter.
    I will continue spread the word, because a green clean environment with blue sky is my passion

  6. maranda permalink
    September 24, 2009

    my first step to commute without polluting is carpooling with others that live and work in the same area as i do.

  7. Karl permalink
    September 24, 2009

    I live in the midwest, where public transit users and bicycle commuters are considered weird. The first question I often hear when biking to meetings or work is “Don’t you have a car?”

  8. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    September 24, 2009

    I use Orange County Transportation Authority OCTA for trips I need to make. I need to use the OCTA ACCESS paratransit system but the minibuses they use are nice, the drivers nice and we share the trip with other passengers so it also helps reduce fuel use and pollution including greenhouse gases. The state transit fund has been eliminated but the Air Resources Board is looking at ways to get some funding back into transit operations because they do get more cars off the highway to reduce congestion and pollution. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  9. Deepti permalink
    September 24, 2009

    I walk to metro station and catch metro for work. I do not own a car. Good way to stay fit by walking 40-45 minutes everyday. I wish the public transit system can be make more efficient by not running empty trains and buses. If there are less number of people on a route shuttle or ‘share the ride’ should be the choice, ideally… but US’s oil addiction.

  10. Rose permalink
    September 24, 2009

    Since I work from home, It’s fairly easy to commute without polluting. I save errands, for things like supplies or grocery shopping, to do in one day. I then plan my route to save on gas.

  11. Sarah permalink
    September 24, 2009

    I walk about half a mile to catch a bus into Boston. It lets me off a five minute walk to my office. (The last bus is at 8pm, so if I need to stay later, I have to drive about 3 miles to the train. I have no life :) so this is pretty rare.) Often, as my bus sits stopped in traffic, I wish the bus would take me to the train! And run later, too.

  12. Karri Ratna Kumar permalink
    September 25, 2009

    I was working in Hyderabad, India. My office is there was around 35kilometers for that i used to travel in the car, and there was lot of pollution. I started getting breathing problem. so i changed to other company now i am just walking to my office and it is located very near to my house it hardly takes 15min walk to my office and is very peaceful to walk and good for health and location where my office is very pleasent for walking.

  13. Edgardo Berraz permalink
    September 25, 2009

    Well done!It’s very important encourage all the people to think about this very important matter.Little aportations of everybody can reach big resulys.In my propper experience,I leave the car in his carpark almost all the day.Only one time at day, I’ve use it for make log distances,always for freeways where I can to take uniform speed wich produce the best mileage.However I think to change my car and I’m looking for the type of car that lesser comsumtion has.Another facts in alldays life who everybody could make is to save energy in all forms,using less electricity,less water and less foods in whose production the waste of fosile combustible are greater.

  14. sarah permalink
    September 25, 2009

    i commute by bike every day, but when it’s icy or stormy i will walk or take the bus. it’s only a mile from my house to work, so it’s not that far–but i do ride up to 45 miles to go to my family’s beach house in massachusetts. i also sometimes bike to newport (about 30 miles).

    aside from biking and walking everywhere, i’m hoping to begin a bicycle/sailing journey around the world, to demonstrate that you can travel anywhere without polluting the environment. anyone interested in sponsoring me?? :)

  15. Neil permalink
    September 25, 2009

    I bus from home to work at the EPA about 10 miles each way, every day, and my other job I do from home. I also made my own three-wheel recumbent bike with an electric motor, so I use that as much as possible — but mostly for fun!

  16. BUD permalink
    September 25, 2009

    I do not have personal transportation again. I use public bus transportaion, which I dislike. I feel it is not run very efficient, but I would still use the bus to and from work commutes due to financial savings. Mostly due to high paking fees. I would also not use my own vehicle for short trips to run errands. I have learned to budget and mange time to suit my needs.

  17. BUD permalink
    September 25, 2009

    I use paper bags I save from shopping trips and use them to scoop my dog waste during hikes and walking.

  18. Jonce permalink
    September 25, 2009

    I ride my bike about 6 miles to the lightrail station which takes me another 10 miles. The Phoenix heat was brutal this summer but now that it is cooling off it is a great way to start and end the work day. Door to door in 40 minutes, not too bad!

  19. essa permalink
    September 25, 2009

    I live in the Middle East, the best walking on legs, and also better ride together and when I go to school tips for older students

    Nhiahiap happy ambition to better

  20. Marc F. permalink
    September 25, 2009

    I go to school 4-5 days per week. I bike there – its 12 miles each way and takes me about 70 minutes each way. I intentionally don’t buy a parking permit at the College so I am not tempted to drive. I’ve been commuting by bike to school for a year now and thanks to the mild weather of South SF Bay area, there are very few days of rain. When the weather is bad, I take the bus. I’m saving money on gas, parking fees, staying in shape and keeping the air clean. I wish more people would consider alternatives to driving – especially on “Spare the Air” days when the air gets bad – it’s harder on us cyclists on those days.

    On weekends, I often volunteer with a non-profit to install solar PV. These projects are usually too far away to bike, so I organize a carpool. Most solar volunteers are into carpooling so I seldom need to drive alone. I’m down to buying a tank of gas each month. I’m hoping I won’t need any gas when I can drive an electric vehicle in the near future – It will be recharged from free solar power – I hope I can one soon.

  21. Betsy Ruhe permalink
    September 25, 2009

    I realized when I was 17, 30 years ago, that oil reserves would not last forever and so began commuting by bicycle way back then. Living in Louisville, Ky. mass transit is less than ideal and a bicycle is the best option. Riding to work 3-4 days each week confers many benefits. I am heathier. I save money. I pollute less. And the biggest benefit of all, I get to work smiling, and return home relaxed, having pedaled all my stresses away.

  22. Jeffrey permalink*
    September 26, 2009

    In 20 years of working in the DC area, I’ve driven in only a handful of times, and then only when I need to get somewhere not Metro-accessible immediately after work (Metro is our subway). Currently, I mostly ride my bike to the nearest Metro station.

  23. Justin permalink
    September 27, 2009

    I am 16 and i try to ride my bike to my friends house whenever i can. Sometimes it is hard though since where i live there is a bunch of hills. I also run to work since its only 1 and a half miles away and since I do track the running helps. I wish i could carpool but in the state i live in when teens get their license they can’t drive with anyone in the car for a year. So that prevents everyone in highschool in my state to carpool, which is really bad.

  24. Cathy R. permalink
    September 28, 2009

    I work for the California Department of Justice in San Francisco, headed by long-time environmentalist Jerry Brown, and I commuted today (a spare the air day) by riding my bike to/from the CALTRAIN. Faster than driving, and nothing gets your adrenaline going like zipping up the Seventh Street bike lane.

  25. Malakoo permalink
    September 29, 2009

    I had a nice home to pint in Rocky Point, Fl. The home was 3 miles from mine. I initially drove the pints supplies and sundries over to drop them off. VOC free paints of course. For the next 3 weeks I rode my back back and forth to this home. Not only did I get in great shape I was able to work on my tan every day.

    I had a business meeting two days ago at a location no more than a mile from me. I was temped to drive, but instead I jumped on the bike and peddled over to my friends home. After our meeting which was about the Martin County Green Business League. So checkout what we are doing down here on the Treasure Coast of Florida.

  26. Betty Miller permalink
    October 1, 2009

    I live 32 miles from downtown Sacramento, where I work. To commute, I ride the El Dorado County Transit bus, and have done so for my entire career with Caltrans–almost 9 years. The service is good, and the buses are able to take advantage of the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on US Highway 50. A number of local public agencies are currently contributing to the construction of an HOV lane extension is this particular commute corridor. As a result, we will be able to leave even less carbon in the air, and the commute time will be reduced further. Cannot imagine any other way to get to work and back.

  27. Alan Gregory permalink
    October 7, 2009

    I walk – a lot, partly because I suffered a traumatic brain injury when a motorist’s car struck my bicycle two years ago, an d partly because I can no longer drive my own car much at all due to my injury and its leftovers. But, hey, that didn’t stop a motorist from jeering me as I walked the half-mile home from a local grocery with a tote bag in one hand. Nor does it stop fellow townspeople from polluting the air with gasoline-powered lawn mower emissions and the noise pollution from their infernal stupid machines. What a mechanized society we’ve become. Gasoline, not healthy food, fuels our “progress.” March on sprawl!

  28. RUDI permalink
    October 9, 2009

    I live in New York City and there are many ways to join in on public transit from my home to work and back. I could bicycle, but it takes too long in the morning, so I take the MTA express bus service. At night I walk about a mile to the bus stop in Brooklyn (my office is near the Brooklyn Bridge) this gives me exercise, a chance to unwind, and saves polluting the air. I am very careful about driving and plan my trips to do several things on the same trip. I also just bought a hybrid car. I practice conservation driving by looking ahead, if I see the light is red I take my foot off the gas and down shift instead of braking, I try to keep rolling up to the light which should turn green by the time I get there. People behind me blow their horns because I am going too slow, I point to the red light and some of them get the idea. This is a hold over from bicycle riding where you don’t want to stop if you don’t have to.

  29. Lee permalink
    October 9, 2009

    I live in Aspen and commute by bike every day, rain, snow, and ice, with studded bike tires, which are easy to find and make a huge difference. It’s only 2.5 miles, and I’m out in the cold much less than if I had been scraping my windshield, or doing a day of skiing! It also saves me a lot of money, not paying for gas and parking, and it’s free exercise. It’s also faster than sitting in traffic and then finding a place to park. We also have free in-town bus service, just like we pay for free roads. We have bus lanes so buses don’t get stuck in traffic. We also have a big global warming program, because we’d like to keep skiing here. When I go on a long trip, I can offset my emissions with Aspen’s own “canary tags”: which we are using to put microturbines in our water lines.

  30. Jemma permalink
    October 21, 2009

    I live in a small town with no mass transport, but my partner and I walk almost everywhere, including to and from work every day, no matter how hot or cold. Sometimes someone who knows us stops to give us a ride when it’s really hot or cold, and then we get to carpool! We shop at the local food coop as often as possible because it’s in walking distance, unlike the supermarket. We still own a car because once a year we drive up north to visit relatives, but otherwise we drive less than once a week.

  31. BeWaterWise Rep permalink
    October 27, 2009

    Cycling or walking helps reduce pollution and helps people stay fit. It keeps stress at bay and helps maintain a clean environment. Also remember to get your car serviced as required… Polluting the air and water leads to health hazards. Hence measures must be taken to conserve water. has many tips to save water.

  32. Fuel Efficient Driver permalink
    October 27, 2009

    In addition to my husband taking the bus to work, I do my best to drive fuel efficiently. I accelerate slowly. I don’t speed. I don’t drive like a maniac. I also do my best to keep my vehicle in top condition by following my vehicle owner’s manual, getting tune-ups, tire rotations, and oil changes when needed.

    I’m sharing this self-discovery and knowledge with other via my web site – . It’s my baby.

    I also walk with my kids as much as possible. We try to walk to nearby playgrounds instead of driving to ones that are further away, and we’ll walk to a local shop for a few necessary items instead of driving to the grocery store.

  33. Allison MacArthur-Ruesink permalink
    January 7, 2010

    I car pool with a friend for my ~ 1 hour commute. It saves lots in gas money and wear and tear on my truck which is primarily for farm and hauling.

  34. EV John permalink
    February 18, 2010

    For long jaunts, a high mileage car.

    For running to the store, an electric car (seriously! 1982 Comutacar for $2500 on ebay).

    For nice days and not to far its slippers, a Hawaiian shirt and the trusty Schwinn.

  35. Painter Beach permalink
    November 24, 2011

    I am so delighted I found your blog, I really found you by accident, while I was researching on Digg for something else. Nonetheless I found you blog fascinating and I really appreciated it.

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