Photo: Get on your bike - and off oil

(Credit: Thomas Hawk via Flickr.)

Breaking addictions can be tough, but you don't have to go cold turkey. Reducing our dependence on oil means switching to cleaner energy sources, and reducing our consumption of energy as much as we can.

Cars are the largest source of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants. Each day Canada's 14 million cars lead to:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. A recent study found that over 45 per cent of Canada's habitat could be lost by the end of this century due to climate change.
  • Premature deaths of up to 16,000 Canadians each year. Tens of thousands more suffer from respiratory ailments such as asthma that are associated with and aggravated by air pollution.
  • More smog days coupled with more heat waves.

What can I do?

Try leaving your car in the driveway for just one trip a week. Walking and jogging are simple alternatives to driving and great ways to get in shape. Consider these tips before you take the first step:

  • Make a plan. The average pedestrian can walk one kilometre in 10 minutes so estimate how far you'll need to walk and how long it will take to get there.
  • Save on gym fees. A 125-lb. person walking at a brisk pace for only 30 minutes burns 150 calories; a 196 lb. person burns 235 calories. Visit the Walking Calorie Calculators.
  • Get fit. Thirty minutes of walking per day cuts the risk of heart disease by up to half, and reduces the risk of some cancers, diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis.
  • Learn more. Walking is a great way to get to know your neighborhood and community. In addition the pace of walking is conducive to visiting or contemplation.
  • What about the kids? Getting your kids off the couch and outdoors doesn't need to be painful. Share what you've learned about the environmental and health benefits and get them involved in planning a car-free day. They might enjoy working on a project with you and you'll spend quality time together.

For more kid-friendly ideas:

Cycle your way to a healthier planet

Many of our car trips are for distances less than three kilometers — well within the range of an easy bike ride. In just 15 minutes the average person can bike 3.5 km. Here are some other benefits to cycling to your destinations:

  • Get there quick! For trips of up to 10 km, cycling is usually the fastest way to travel within the city.
  • Save $$$. It costs about $200 per year to maintain a bike, plus an additional $300 for accessories — compared to $7,500 the average Canadian pays to own a car.
  • Improve your health! 30 minutes of brisk cycling several times a week reduces the risk of developing coronary heart disease, adult diabetes and obesity by as much as 50%.

Share the drive!

More than 12 million Canadians use transit, which helps alleviate traffic congestion and improves air quality.

Check out the links below and start using mass transit today for a healthier environment tomorrow:

  • Transit is cheaper than driving: A family using transit can save an average $586 in auto expenses each month!
  • Transit frees up time: Riding public transit gives you time to read the paper, catch up on work, chat with friends or have a nap! Find out what your drive is costing you with the Commuter Calculator.
  • Carpooling is another great option: Carpooling replaces up to four cars and causes less air pollution. Carpool lanes allow you to bypass traffic congestion so you arrive on time with less stress. Carpooling also saves money since passengers share gas and vehicle expenses.

For more info:

Telecommute into the new millennium!

Telecommuting is rapidly becoming one of the most popular ways for people to work.

According to consulting firm InnoVisions Canada, about 1.5 million Canadians telework from home at least once a week.

If a million telecommuters worked from home just one weekday each year, Canada could save some 250 million kg of CO2 emissions; 100 million litres of fuel; and 800 million fewer kilometers of mileage on our roads.

Check out these telecommuting facts:

  • People often enjoy working from home for the flexibility in their workday. A real plus for families with newborns!
  • Companies that use teleworkers often experience increased productivity and reduced accommodation costs. (Employees are typically 20-40% more productive when telecommuting!)
  • Many employers will subsidize or contribute equipment to employees who telecommute. Ask your employer about telecommuting options.

For more info:

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