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Sharing the Driving — And the Car!

Personal vehicles — cars, vans, SUVs — emit carbon, and lots of it, unless they run on electricity or vegetable oil. A couple ways to cut your greenhouse gas output is by sharing the driving or sharing a car:

Carpooling

Carpooling is as simple to execute as arranging to drive to the office with a colleague or to take neighbors’ children to and from school. In most cases, carpoolers take turns being the driver and using their own vehicles.

Aside from being eco-friendly, carpooling gives you other benefits including reduced commuter stress, access to dedicated carpool travel lanes on some major highways, and access to prime parking spots at work.

If you’re looking for someone to share the journey to work — or even across the country — eRideShare can connect you with folks willing to share long distance or commuter journeys.

Warning: If you’re carpooling with someone you don’t know, always be extremely careful. eRideShare offers safety tips, but the bottom line is that you should never share a vehicle with someone you don’t trust.

Car-sharing

In a car-sharing arrangement, you pay a fee that gives you access to a vehicle (or a pool of vehicles), usually parked in an easily accessible location. When you need a vehicle for something (a shopping trip, perhaps), you make a reservation, pick up the vehicle, make the trip, and return the vehicle. Car-sharing replaces the need for a personal vehicle.

Typical car-sharing costs are $10 an hour, but many programs allow you to rent by the day or longer if needed (although it’s worth checking to see if conventional rental agencies are more economical for longer-term rentals, especially if they offer low-emissions vehicles).

Several car-sharing programs operate in the U.S., but the most popular is Zipcar. Check your local options, too, by searching the Internet — try “car sharing” and your community name; cities such as Austin, Chicago, and Philadelphia have car-sharing programs, and some communities have created their own.

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