Your Commute is Killing the Environment

If you’ve ever felt like commuting takes over your life, you aren’t alone. According to a report in TIME, the average American’s commute to work is nearly an hour per day.

Whether you sit in your car for hours or stand wedged between strangers on the subway, the time spent getting to and from work is stressful, often uncomfortable, and wastes hours our lives. But the effects on the environment are even worse.

Transportation accounts for approximately one-third of all the greenhouse gasses produced in the United States. Motor vehicles emit 20 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per gallon of gas burned, for a national average of 5.5 tons per year, per motorist.

It’s no surprise that the transportation sector — and therefore your commute — is becoming increasingly linked to environmental problems. Those include:

1. Ozone depletion
The activities of the transport industry release several million tons of nitrous oxide per year. This is slowly depleting the stratospheric ozone layer, which screens the earth’s surface from ultraviolet radiation.

2. Poor air quality
Carbon monoxide and Nitrogen dioxide emissions from highway vehicles, ships, trains, and aircraft pollute the air we breathe, causing cancer and other cardiovascular, respiratory, and neurological diseases.

3. Poor water quality
Waste generated by the operations of vessels at sea or at ports contain bacteria that can be hazardous for public health as well as marine ecosystems when discharged in waters.

4. Damaged soil
Fuel and oil spills from motor vehicles are washed onto the roadside and enter the soil. Hazardous materials and heavy metals have been found in areas contiguous to railroads, ports and airports.

5. Eliminating biodiversity
The emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides create acid rain, which reduces agricultural crop yields and causes forest decline.

Working closer to home can reduce your carbon footprint by more than 50 percent

For decades, our work life has been at the mercy of extremes: making a long commute to work (each person loses an average of 38 hours of time idling in traffic each year, costing $710 per person in lost productivity and out-of-pocket gas expense); living near work and having to opt for less space and greater living expenses, sometimes poor school systems for children; or working from home, which makes you subject to isolation and the negative emotional effects that come along with it.

We believe in the happy median. More often than not a long commute is not necessary. Employees often find themselves traveling to work, only to get there and rely on technology to facilitate meetings or to turn to for IT support.

By working near or at home and only working three days a week, you can reduce your CO2 footprint by more than 2.2 tons annually. Coworking spaces serve a nice balance — they give you a separate workspace while cutting down the environment-killing commute.

Our big push to open coworking spaces in suburban locations is for this reason. We want to give people the benefit of having a place to go to work — an office where they feel stimulated, creative, and connected — with neither the long commute nor the distractions from home.

Calculate how much your commute costs you and the environment and see how you can cut down.