Those of us located in the UK will have probably seen the TV Adverts for the 'Drive 5 Miles Less a Week' campaign. Introduced as part of the UK government's ACT ON CO2 programme, the aim of the campaign is for all UK drivers to reduce their weekly mileage by 5 miles, thus saving on 2.7 million tonnes of CO2 per year. They report that car travel is the single biggest source of CO2 emissions in the UK today and that most people would be easily able to reduce their car travel by 5 miles per week. It certainly doesn't sound much and is something I have been attempting to do for the last month since I first saw the advert. The government have suggested 5 tips to help reduce my mileage:
Share a car journey with family - Sharing a journey where possible makes complete sense, but providing I have had enough seats this is something I've already been doing. This unfortunately means there are no miles to be saved on this one for me.
Combine multiple trips into one - Plan your journey ahead and a combine multiple trips into one. I like to be efficient with my time, so again this is something I have already been doing. I have tried to focus on it more, but I don't think there are any miles to be saved here for me.
Walk to the shops - This is one I can do, and I am now walking to the expensive local shop to buy bread, milk and the Sunday Times, instead of driving to Tescos. This is costing me a lot of money, and the shop owners are very unpleasant, but it saves around 3 miles per week.
Cycle instead of drive for short journeys - For me it is very rare a journey arises that is too far too walk or that cannot be combined with other trips. For this reason, and the fact I like to arrive at my destination alive, I haven't tried cycling yet.
Plan your route - To make sure you don't drive around and waste miles getting lost. I use a sat nav when I don't know the way, so all routes are planned. I could set it to always calculate the shortest route rather than the fastest and this would gain me some miles, but I am not sure this would cut down my CO2 emissions.
You can see that by following the government's advice alone, I had only managed to reduce my weekly mileage by 3 miles. However, in the last week alone I have taken part in 6 conference calls from my office instead of driving to meetings. Taking into account the distance required to get to these meetings, this has reduced my mileage for the week by 380 miles, and if we include the other participant's journeys in to the equation then we saved 2660 miles in one week. That's a fair amount of CO2 reduced, certainly enough to justify not buying a bicycle just yet.