How do you celebrate Earth Day?

by guest blogger Ann Briggs

In honor of Earth Day today, I’m making a conscious effort to reduce my carbon footprint by printing only the documents I really need to keep for work. My agency is taking part in a statewide effort to reduce paper use by 30 percent. That’s only one of the ways we’re doing our part to reduce consumption and protect our environment.

We’ve joined with other state agencies and organizations to find ways to reduce carbon emissions and encourage people to explore their travel options. For more than 20 years we’ve incorporated environmental components into our everyday operations, so for us Earth Day comes 365 days a year.

In the quest to reduce carbon emissions, there’s a cool new initiative under way called the West Coast Green Highway. It involves Washington, California, Oregon and British Columbia working together to promote the use of alternative fuels. Imagine being able to drive the entire 1,350 miles of the Interstate 5 corridor, between the borders of Mexico and Canada, without having to buy a drop of gas.  It may happen sooner than you think.  Together we are:
  • Working with private partners to develop alternative fueling-locations along I-5.
  • Working with communities, utilities, the electric vehicle industry and other agencies to plan where and how to begin installing public charging stations. In Washington, we’re identifying potential charging station sites at safety rest areas, park-and-ride lots and other state-owned property.
We’ve expanding our own fleet of low-emission and hybrid vehicles. It currently includes 568 flex fuel (capable of running on 85 percent ethanol fuel) and 79 gas/electric hybrid vehicles.

There are other ways to reduce carbon emissions. Just this month, Governor Gregoire recognized 46 employers that are setting the example by participating in Commute Trip Reduction, a program that brings public and private organizations together to promote transportation choices other than just driving alone. Approximately 530,000 people are employed at work sites that participate in Commute Trip Reduction programs. This translates to 62 million fewer vehicle miles traveled annually and saves three million gallons of fuel and 27,490 metric tons of greenhouse gases.

In addition, we’re working with cities and counties to improve and expand sidewalks and bike paths. In Washington, 13 percent of the federal stimulus projects for transportation included bicycle and pedestrian components. Our state has been recognized as the top Bicycle Friendly State two years in a row.
You can read more about what we’re doing to address Climate Change and environmental stewardship on our website. 

So what can you do?
  • Keep your vehicle tuned up and tires properly inflated. You’ll get better gas mileage and produce less pollution.
  • Set a goal to drive less. Combining errands into one trip is one way.
  • Adjust your driving speed to conserve fuel.
  • Making a short trip within the neighborhood? Consider walking or riding your bike – you’ll be doing something healthy for you and the environment.
  • Check with your employer to see what programs your organization may offer – telecommuting, compressed work weeks, bus passes, carpools, or vanpools.
  • For your next trip, try taking the bus or a train.
  • Consider buying an electric or hybrid for your next vehicle purchase.