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Sustainable transportation is a challenging and complex goal due to the variety of modes of travel, and wide range of needs. The way we rely mainly on fossil fuels for moving people and goods is unsustainable and polluting. In order to make changes toward sustainability, we must examine the current social, economic, environmental and cultural factors that form our system of transportation today.

Whether exploring the transportation of passengers or goods, different modes of transportation have different levels of greenhouse gas emissions. We should evaluate options and look for opportunities to reduce emissions while meeting our needs. Evaluate all the trips you have to, or want to, make in your daily lives, and see where you can reduce the frequency and distance of travel, or use a different mode with lower emissions.

A little bit of advance planning may help you cut down on the number of trips you have to make in your car for errands. You can also choose more local destinations for optional trips.

Other keys to more sustainable travel in the future are to make more sustainable choices in the modes of transportation we use and adoptions of new technologies.

Why does major scale change in transportation seem so difficult?

Cultural factors play a major role in the resistance to change. Western individualism makes it hard to wean people away from dependence upon fossil fuel driven vehicles, which allow us to travel long distances relatively cheaply because environmental and health costs are not included in these prices for gas.

Societal views sometimes prevent us from changing our behavior. Certain behaviors like taking children to school and going to restaurants and grocery stores are classic "driving" activities in some of our minds, even when circumstances actually make biking or walking practical alternatives. It's easy to stick to ways we know already, but it is time now to evaluate our old norms to find better ways to safeguard future generations from unsustainable practices.

Economic factors are complex in and of themselves. They played a significant role in the developments that led to climate change and the challenges to sustainability, and they continue to be a part as we strive for change. They are playing a significant role in both the development of clean energies and the fossil fuel industry’s resistance to converting from fossil fuels to renewables.

As individual consumers, we can make HASTE by rapidly adopting more sustainable transportation habits.

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