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Travel More Sustainably

While it’s undeniably important that government and the private sector take the lead in reducing their travel, every one of us can make simple changes to make their own travel more sustainable.

Our sustainable travel information page provides useful information on travelling around Scotland in a sustainable way, with links to the major transport operators for bus, coach, rail and ferry; as well as useful guides for people looking to walk and cycle round Scotland.

Here we suggest some things you might want to think about.

Avoid making short trips by car

Sometimes it’s unavoidable to drive places – perhaps for travelling to a rural location without good public transport links – but very often there are lots of alternatives to taking the car.

Most journeys that we make on a daily basis are very short (40% of all trips are less than 2 miles), so there’s plenty of opportunity for many of these trips to instead by more sustainable modes of transport. Cutting out short car journeys is an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint, get healthy and could save you money.

Walking and cycling are fantastic ways of getting around for short journeys. Whether it’s for getting to work, the shops or just for fun, walking and cycling are cheap, easy and a great way to stay healthy. If you want to find out how you can get into cycling, check out the great advice provided by Sustrans and Cycling Scotland.

If you’re travelling a bit further, taking the bus or train is a great alternative to taking the car. Scotland has a wide rail network connecting all of Scotland cities and covering a huge area across the country. If you’re travelling for work, the train is a great way to get work done on the go. Bus services are a cheap alternative to taking the car and avoid the stress of having to find a parking space.

Why not check out how you can get to work or the shops by train or bus? Check out Traveline to see how you could take public transport to get around.

Cut down on air travel

Air travel is cheap because the industry doesn’t have to pay tax on passenger tickets or fuel! Air travel is the most polluting form of travel – Just one return flight to America will use up all your annual carbon allowance for the year. So if you do only one thing then this is what you should cut down on.

For trips to the continent rail is increasingly a good option, especially with the opening of Eurostar services on ‘High Speed 1’ between St Pancras & Paris/Brussels, the expansion of Europe’s high-speed rail network, and better rail through-ticketing options from Scotland to the continent. Rail is also a much more enjoyable way to travel – no stress of going through security, no travel to and parking at the airport, more leg room, and WiFi all make your journey much more enjoyable.

To see how you can get to Europe by train, check out websites like Loco2 or GoEuro. You can compare your journey by train, bus and plane and see the difference in cost and travel time – including the travel time to the airport, which can add hours to your journey.

Buy local produce

The high levels of lorries on the roads is to a large extent because of the distances that food is transported: a quarter of all lorries are carrying food around the country. The concept of ‘food miles’ have been known about for years, but a most of the food we buy is still from thousands of miles away.

The report ‘Eating Oil’ by Sustain found that for every calorie from a carrot flown in from South Africa, 66 calories of fuel had been used to transport it to the plate. So it’s important to consider not only how we travel ourselves, but also the carbon cost of the things we consume.

Not every food you might want to eat is grown or made locally, but the growth of Farmers Markets and Veggiebox schemes means that a lot of food can now be sourced from local producers, thereby cutting out long-distance trips by HGV or by air freight. And even if nothing is available for you locally, ask your local retailer why they’re stocking Californian strawberries and New Zealand apples rather than their Scottish and English equivalents!