Weekly Challenge

Week 16: Pedal for the Planet

With the kick-off of Bike Month, the time is right to focus on incorporating sustainable transportation into our journey towards low-impact living.

The Dark Side of Driving

In 2021, over 79 million motor vehicles were produced globally; an increase of 1.3% compared to 2020.


As we learned back during our week two challenge when we calculated our eco footprint, transportation plays a starring role in how our daily living impacts the environment. In many cities and towns across the U.S., driving tops the list as the single greatest source of pollution. There are lots of hidden environmental costs to keep in mind when we hop in our car and go.

Manufacturing Emissions
The extraction, transport and processing of the raw materials (steel, rubber, glass, plastics, paint) used in vehicle manufacturing are extremely energy-intensive resulting in a significant carbon footprint often not given much thought. On average, manufacturing a vehicle, excluding the battery, generates around six tons of carbon emissions.
Brink News
Well-to-Tank Emissions
For every 100g of CO2 released through fuel exhaust (tailpipe emissions), an additional 17g is emitted during the extraction, transport and refining of crude oil into that fuel (referred to as well-to-tank emissions).
European Environment Agency
Tailpipe Emissions
Automobile use is responsible for about 33% of air pollution in the US. The average vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. In addition to carbon dioxide (CO2), automobiles produce methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O).

Driving just one mile emits about 404 grams of CO2.
Non-exhaust Particulate Matter Pollution
Wear and tear from brakes, tires and road surfaces is expected to overtake tailpipe emissions as the leading source of fine particle pollution released into the air by road traffic by 2035. Additionally, these microparticles settle onto roadways and are washed into our waterways when it rains. Non-exhaust particulate matter emissions from passenger vehicles worldwide is likely to increase by 53.5% by 2030.
End-of-Life Dismantling and Disposal
Although roughly ¾ of a vehicle can be recycled at end-of-life, at least ¼ of its parts are destined for landfills, where the plastic remnants and other toxic materials will either persist for a minimum of hundreds of years, leach into the soil, or wash into our waterways.

Bicycle Benefits

Car trips of under a mile add up to about 10 billion miles per year according to a 2009 U.S. National Household Transportation Survey.

Replacing car use with walking or biking for these short trips would save about 4 million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year (the equivalent of taking 800,000 cars off the road).

Can’t hop on a conventional bike? You can still ditch the car and green your transportation routine by opting for one of these alternatives: 

Still need to use your car? Commit to the working towards the following:

Additional Resources