At home


Traffic noise, smelly fumes and carbon emissions – such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane – are among the damaging by-products of our daily commute in fossil fuel burning transport.

Alternatives to the car are likely to not only be cheaper and better for the environment, but healthier for you, too. Australia has one of the largest proportions of obese citizens among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations, partly due to our increasingly sedentary, car-orientated lifestyles.

Alternatives to the car

So instead of driving your car to work or to go short distances, consider whether you can walk, cycle, jog or catch public transport all or at least some of the way.

  • Walking is a great form of gentle exercise. To stay healthy, we need 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity. Make walking to work or with the kids to school part of your daily routine.
  • Cycling is great for short trips, as well as being easy, environmentally friendly, very cheap and a great way to keep fit. Bike riding is growing in popularity in New South Wales, with well over one million people cycling in a typical week. For more information, see Cycling in NSW, Cycleway Finder and Sydney’s Cycling Future (PDF 5.4MB).
  • Public transport has immediate environmental advantages – a single vehicle accounts for multiple commuter journeys – and has no additional costs, such as parking fees, tolls, fuel and vehicle maintenance. Sit back while someone else does the driving, and read a book, catch up with correspondence, news or personal admin on your mobile device, or just relax. Walking or cycling to and from public transport is also an opportunity to exercise. Plan your bus, rail and ferry trips on the Transport Infoline.
Petrol Pump. OEH.

If every vehicle owner in New South Wales drove an average of one kilometre less each day, we'd save up to 130 million litres of fuel every year.

Minimise your car's effect on the environment

For times when it is necessary to use your car, find ways to minimise your vehicle’s effect on the environment and save yourself money at the same time.

  • Car pooling. Arrange to share regular trips into work or school with friends or colleagues, taking turns to drive.
  • Car sharing. Commercial schemes allow you to have 24-hour access to a shared fleet of vehicles without having to own one. You pay a fee for use measured in kilometres and time. Some councils provide dedicated parking spaces for car-share vehicles.
  • Eco-friendly cars. Do you really need a four-wheel drive for the grocery run? See the Green Vehicle Guide to the carbon and air pollution emissions of new vehicles.
  • Hybrid vehicles.  Petrol/electric vehicles use up to 50 per cent less fuel than conventionally powered vehicles and produce up to 80 per cent lower emissions. For more information, refer to the NRMA.
  • Avoid short trips. Emissions from cars are greatest when an engine is cold; a petrol car can take up to 10km to warm up and operate at maximum efficiency.
  • Choose and plan more efficient routes.
  • Avoid rapid acceleration, long periods of idling and braking hard. These will all increase your fuel consumption. Get into the habit of allowing the car to coast up to the red light ahead.
  • Keep your car properly maintained. Regular oil and air filter changes, with tyres that are inflated to the correct pressures, will keep your car’s fuel consumption to a minimum.
  • Service your vehicle regularly. A well-tuned car can reduce its carbon emissions by up to 15 per cent and minimises the risk of oil leaks
  • Use air-conditioning sparingly. It can increase fuel consumption by 10 per cent.
  • Lower your wind resistance. Anything fixed to the outside of the car, such as a roof rack or bull-bars, increases wind resistance and fuel consumption, so if possible, remove them when not in use.
  • Remove non-essential loads. Check your car boot for any unnecessary items that add extra weight and increase your fuel consumption. An extra 50kg of weight can increase your fuel bill by two per cent.      

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Page last updated: 04 March 2015