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Turning traffic blues to green

WWF staff are hopping on to trains and taxis, crowding into cars and some are even donning their walking shoes in an effort to reduce the organisation’s carbon emissions.

© Natasha Prince/WWF-SA
WWF staff take on the #EcomobilityChallenge

Eish, South Africa. Life is getting expensive – for our pockets and for the planet. Last week the petrol price went up again. If that isn’t frustrating enough, we seem to be getting stuck in ever-growing traffic and congestion. This in turns adds more carbon emissions from exhaust fumes.

Perhaps it’s a good time to reconsider how we move about in our cities.

Challenge accepted

A recent internal survey among WWF staff revealed that single occupancy cars are still the most common choice. So this week we challenged our staff to explore more environmentally sustainable transport alternatives during WWF’s week-long Ecomobility Challenge.

While public transport is the norm for many South Africans, the challenge helped people in the office to talk about plans to share lifts and try other carbon-reducing options.

Pandas go ecomobile

Nabeelah Kahn and Shaheena Links, from WWF’s Cape Town office, paired up to carpool for the week. “Usually it’s a one-man show in my car – I love to sing along to music. But this week I could belt out duets with my friend and colleague. #KaraokeSessions #EcomobilityChallenge,” says Shaheena.

© Natasha Prince/ WWF-SA
By carpooling, commuters split the carbon cost of their trip. The more the merrier.

Lameez Eksteen, also in Cape Town, travels from the northern suburbs to the Newlands office every day. She takes two trains to reach her destination. “It’s not only good for the environment, but good for my budget. Plus I get to read and socialise with other people,” she adds.

© Natasha Prince/ WWF-SA
For commuters, the carbon footprint of travelling by train is less than 10% of travelling the same distance by car.

Natasha Jones and Asanda Mafila have been carpooling for months. They share fuel costs and get to enjoy each other’s company each day. “Carpooling not only saves me money every month, but it’s given me an opportunity to develop friendships with co-workers.”

© Natasha Prince/ WWF-SA
Carpooling is a great way to save on costs, especially with the rising price of fuel.

In our day-to-day operations, WWF encourages staff to carpool to off-site meetings and offers pool cars for this purpose. In the Cape Town office, bicycles are also available for staff to zip around the area. Lefa Mareka cycles 10km to and from work each day. “It keeps me fit and is a good way to unwind after the work day,” says Lefa.

© Natasha Prince/ WWF-SA
Walking and cycling have a carbon cost of precisely zero and are the most effective ecomobile transport alternatives.

In Johannesburg, Kgaugelo Chiloane, Innocentia Modau and Tsitsi Mkombe carpool every day. They meet at a central shopping centre to park their cars before heading to the office in one. “The system works because you end up driving once or twice a week instead of five. You have company during your trip and you can sleep or catch up on some work if it’s not your turn to drive. We also save about 60% on our travel costs,” says Innocentia.

In addition to the environmental and financial benefits, carpooling is great for your social life too.

The Ecomobility Challenge has highlighted the convenience, sustainability and all-round fun of choosing sustainable transport alternatives. Over the coming months we’ll continue to inspire our staff to walk the talk and share more insights from our ecomobility efforts.

Watch this space. And say, hi, if you see our panda people on a platform, bus/taxi stop, or road near you.

Natasha Prince Photo
Natasha Prince, Communications Officer: Environmental Programmes

Super panda by day. Superhero by night. I love my planet.