Easy ways to live a more sustainable life - Tip 3 - Cycling to work

Hi, I’ve taken on a journey to live a more sustainable life.  I’m not looking to change the world over night, but I’m looking at simple changes, implementing them and then reporting on how doable I think they are for others.

You will have seen from my last 2 changes that I am looking at the WIN-WIN.  So, all the changes I am looking at making have both a positive impact on the environment as well as benefit myself in some way.

The third change in the series is going to be more of a gradual habit.  Cycling to work, especially in the hills of Sheffield, will certainly challenge my fitness, self-motivation and character.  The pull of the van out side the house, particularly on the poor weather days will certainly be a test.

But I will endeavour to do this!

Environmental and Sustainability - Tip 3 – Cycling to work

I am currently reading the book Atomic Habits by James Clear.  This is helping me loads in this change, as it talks about making very small habits at first, which in turn all add up to major changes and positive habits.

By leaving the van at work on the first try it made sure I had to break the seal and do the first ride.  This made me aware that I could do it.  The second ride straight away keeps the habit going.  Yes, I have found the first 2 rides difficult, but I know that if I do it little and often to start with, then I will reach the goal of 3 times a week.  Then it will just become the norm.

My distance to work is 5.2 miles each way. I drop my young boy at nursery twice a week which I need the car for, so the total journey distance that could be eliminated by riding my bike 3 times a week is about 32 miles.

According to the cost calculator I found online, each single journey costs 76p based on 40.9mpg of my Volkswagen Transporter, however, over short, stop/start undulating distances that’s nearer to 25 mpg so I would guestimate that its nearer to £1.23 per journey. This would certainly tally with what I am spending at the pump.

Another online calculator https://www.nextgreencar.com/tools/emissions-calculator/ suggested that each week I could reduce CO2 emissions by 18.45Kg/CO2 if I cycled to and from work 3 times a week. This is based on the midway point between normal and aggressive driving because it’s so hilly and there is lots of traffic to and from work.

WIN-WIN

So, over a year I could save £384 and 959Kg/CO2. Ok it might be a bit unrealistic to do this every week but I could aim for 85% of this.  So that’s £326 and 815Kg/CO2!

Riding a bike for 45 mins a day on the tough hills of Sheffield would burn around 600 calories I estimate, based on this calorie calculator https://www.omnicalculator.com/sports/calories-burned and adding a bit for the seven hills of Sheffield. Both ways that’s 1200 calories. This is going to be tough for a non-biker.

Not only am I going to be burning the calories, Michelle Arthurs-Brennan in Cycling Weekly highlights that I will be:

  • Boosting my mood which is ideal for before and after work!
  • Cutting down my exposure to air pollution (see the article)
  • Reducing my risk of heart disease and cancer
  • Exercising whilst protecting my joints through low impact
  • Improve my sleep – so I get to recover the mind and body better
  • Increasing my brain power
  • Strengthening my immune system so that I become more resilient to becoming ill

Also, I may actually get to work and home quicker as I will be able to navigate traffic jams better and take alternative routes!

In a separate article Michelle Arthurs-Brennan highlights the ways you can use the “Cycle to Work scheme” set up by the government.  In essence “The Cycle to Work scheme lets you spend up to £1000 on a bike and equipment – paying it off over the next year in monthly instalments.”

Let me know in the comments below of any other cycling schemes you have come across that could help people get a bike and start riding.

Summary

I’m not going to lie, I found the first couple of rides tough.  However, using the Atomic Habits principles I know that if I keep chipping away at it I can make this a gradual habit change and the Win-Wins will certainly be worth it.

Ease rating 2.5 (1 being easy to adopt 5 being hard)

Total savings from changes so far:

  • Cold Showers = 464kw/hours and £68 per year
  • Using own Coffee cup = 260 less cups into landfill and £78 per year
  • Cycling to work = 815Kg/CO2 and £326 per year.

Total money saved so far:

  • £472 per annum

Next change: Ecobricking

A quick plug for what my business, we create WIN-WIN scenarios for organisations, reducing paper towel waste, costs and the associated carbon footprint. A study showed that 2 paper towels produce 15 grams of Co2, our hand dryers can reduce each dry to as little as 1 gram of co2 and save 98% cost. We help organisations finance the initial investment out of the savings, so there is no budget to be found. A complete win-win for your bottom line and the environment.


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Written by: Andrew Cameron

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