commuter train illustrationQ: I have a 50-mile drive to work every day. Got any eco-friendly driving tips for me?

Tired behind the wheel in Atlanta

A: Gulp. 50 miles? How’s about changing jobs, sweetheart? A 50-mile drive is a killer, but if you’ve gotta do it (and I assume you’ve gotta do it), here’s some eco-friendly tips for you.

Firstly, a great way to go green during your commute is to carpool or take public transportation. Sites like carpoolconnect.com and erideshare.com can help you find other people in your area going your way. Lots of states have their own local carpooling websites. For instance, if you’re in Southern California, check out commutesmart.info.

A lot of people suggest biking to work, but unless you have a shower at the office or the sweat glands of a gerbil, this one ain’t so practical. But if you decide to go for it, and your coworkers don’t mind (or pretend not to), more power to ya. Research shows that active commuters (people who walk or bike to work) tend to be slimmer and fitter (not that you need research to back that up, but whatever).

Or, if you have a boss like mine (I’m currently sitting here writing this column in my TikiTown pajamas — thanks MNN), ask if you can telecommute one or two days a week. These days, with Skype and ichat, you don’t even need to be in the office to have a productive meeting. Just make sure you don’t set up your webcam with a view of your unmade bed, or your dirty dishes, or anything else you don’t want your coworkers, clients, and bosses to see. Oh yeah, and if you want to keep your telecommuting gig, then make sure to treat the day as a work day, and not a paid sick day.

If you do have to drive your own car to work, there are a few things you can do during the drive to lower your carbon footprint. First, use cruise control while traveling on highways and interstates. This helps you maintain a constant speed, which in turn helps you use less fuel while going easy on the environment. Secondly, next time you’re filling up the tank, make sure your tires are properly inflated — this can increase your gas mileage, which, you guessed it, helps out the environment too. To sum up (I was never that good at getting to the point), anything you can do to conserve fuel (like not letting your car idle for too long, not topping off at the pump, etc.) will help green your ride.

Another thing you can do while you’re driving is opening the windows instead of using the air conditioning. I do this all the time, and unless it’s 90 degrees out (or 30 degrees out for that matter), it’s pretty cool. If you live in a place like San Diego, where the weather seems to be at a perfect 70 degrees all year round (or maybe it just seems that way to a bitter East Coaster), this one can also save you gas and put less strain on your engine when you’re sitting in traffic.

Finally, if all else fails, the least you can do is THINK green on your drive to work. Download some eco-friendly podcasts to listen to on the way.

— Chanie

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ALSO ON MNN: To see more green driving tips, check out this video.  

Photo: Alfredotisi/iStockphoto