Getting home from the bar or work, or from the airport to your hotel, just got a little bit greener. Ride-hailing company Lyft announced in April that the company will begin buying carbon offsets for all of its rides around the world — a huge step in making private transportation a more sustainable endeavor. For each Lyft ride taken, a small donation will be made to environmental groups or efforts in the vehicle manufacturing process aimed at reducing total emissions.
Lyft co-founder and President John Zimmer made the announcement in a Medium article published on April 19. “We feel immense responsibility for the profound impact that Lyft will have on our planet,” Zimmer said in the article. “As we continue to grow, we have a greater responsibility to dedicate material resources to our vision and values.”
The offsets will come via donation to various emissions mitigation efforts such as renewable energy programs and charities working to plant trees that sequester carbon dioxide. “In year one, we anticipate offsetting over a million metric tons of carbon, equivalent to planting tens of millions of trees or taking hundreds of thousands of cars off the road,” Zimmer said in the article.
Of course, riding in a gas-powered ride share is never going to be as green as biking, walking, or taking public transport. It still keeps a car on the road, after all. But investments made to counter the effect can result in positive action that actually does offset the ride’s emissions by pulling a similar amount of carbon to what is emitted by the ride from the air, even if in a different location. This means that you can choose to offset your emissions even if riding in a car is unavoidable for you. Skeptical? Think of this as similar to the closing scene in the movie SLC Punk! — the part when Matthew Lillard’s character decides that if he must be part of the system, he’s going to find a way to disrupt it from the inside. Riding in a car is often unavoidable for many of us, but carbon offsets allow you to enact measurable elements of change while still enjoying the convenience.