If you use public transportation often but are in need of a car occasionally or find that you frequently travel to major cities around the world and require a car rental, an environmentally friendlier option to car rental or car ownership may be a car share.
Car share companies, such as Zipcar in the United States and others in Europe, Australia, and Asia have come into their own in the last two decades. They offer low annual fees, free gas, some free mileage, hourly and daily rates, and insurance as well as a wide variety of car types including hybrid cars.
The process for participating in a car share is to first submit an application along with a fee and choose an annual or monthly payment plan. Once accepted, you gain access to the fleet and make a reservation for a specific car. When you are done using the car, you “check it” back into the same parking location.
The environmental benefits of car sharing include:
- Fewer cars on the road leading to less air pollution
- Gas and oil savings due to driving less
- Monetary savings from car maintenance are poured back into buying local and sustainable products
- Less parking infrastructure and less road expansions
- More resources for park development and urban green spaces
- Indirect benefit of more walking and bicycling
- Versatility in vehicle choice depending on your specific need for that time frame