How being TravelSmart Helps the Environment
There are so many ways for us to get around: cars, trains, buses, planes and boats. Maybe you've been on some of these before, but the most popular one is definitely the car. We have over one million cars just in Metro Vancouver alone!
But just because we have a lot of cars doesn't mean it's always the best or smartest choice for getting around. If more people thought about the environment and how cars are damaging it, maybe we wouldn't be driving them so much.
Being TravelSmart means learning about all modes of transportation and using the ones that make the most sense - for you, your family and our planet!
One of the easiest solutions is to find other ways to travel, like cycling, walking or taking public transit like buses, the SkyTrain or the SeaBus. Being TravelSmart means learning about all modes of transportation and using the ones that make the most sense - for you, your family and our planet!
Environmental Benefits of Being TravelSmart
Right now the environment's suffering so we need to take action to help it recover. Here are some things that are harming the environment and some TravelSmart ideas on how you can make positive changes.
- Air pollution: All motor vehicles produce gases. Think about when it's cold out and you can see clouds coming out from behind a car or truck. That's exhaust and within exhaust is harmful gases known as greenhouse gases (like carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide). These contribute to global warming and put a lot of stress on the environment. With so many cars around, they're a main producer of these harmful gases. A quick way to cut down on this pollution is to cut down on car use. Instead of taking the car, suggest to your parents that you walk, cycle or take transit.
Walking or cycling is easy and can be fun to do for your whole family. Getting outside and being active together is always a great option whenever you can for short trips. For longer trips, public transit is also easy and fun. Although walking and cycling don't produce any greenhouse gases, transit is also considered an environmentally friendly way to get around. Because even though buses and trains still produce pollution, they make far less than the same number of cars it would take to transport the same number of people.
- Fossil fuel. You've probably been to the gas station while riding with your mom or dad. That's because cars need gasoline in order to run. Gas is a "fossil fuel," which means it's made from the fossils of animals and plants. It's also considered to be "non-renewable" because we can't get more of it once it's gone, since it takes hundreds of millions of years for the fossils to change into fuel.
We use fossil fuels for a lot of different things, not just for running cars. They're used to make electricity so you can turn on the lights and not bump into the walls at night; they're used to heat homes so you stay warm through the winter; and they're used to run the factories that make your shoes and backpacks. But once fossil fuels are gone, they're gone (they're non-renewable, remember?). That's why we want to have fewer cars on the road and encourage more people to take the bus or cycle or walk!
- Urban sprawl. As more and more people move into the same city neighbourhood, we have to make room for them. As this area grows, it's called "urban sprawl". Roads and highways have to be built, which means valuable green spaces filled with trees and shrubs and flowers are paved over. This is really a shame since green plants help clean the air.
Plants produce their own food through a method called "photosynthesis". This involves absorbing gas (carbon dioxide) from the air and releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere. This "washes" the air making it clean, but with urban sprawl, not only do we lose these plants, but we're introducing even more pollution-producing cars! If more people used public transit or other TravelSmart forms of transportation, we could reduce the amount of green spaces that have to be paved over for new roads and parking lots. It also makes cities cleaner, quieter, safer and more convenient for getting around!
Check out our TravelSmart Challenge for ways that you can challenge your family to become more TravelSmart!
We want to hear from you! Share your ideas about being TravelSmart by leaving a comment below.