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Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

This website is adapted from Going Greener Together, used under creative commons licence CC-BY-NC and is run by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations. Find out more


How we travel has a big impact on our environment and for small organisations can account for the biggest source of carbon emissions.

Talk to your team - staff, volunteers, trustees and others about ways to reduce car mileage and emissions and then implement them. Set yourself a target or challenge to reduce by 10% in six months or something similar and then set a new target. If you need help working out your current emissions Zero Waste Scotland have a commuter emissions tool to help. 

Some ideas to get you going:

  • encourage greater use of public transport 
  • encourage staff and volunteers to car share on their commute, and to meetings and events
  • meet virtually rather than in person
  • join a car club and use their electric or hybrid vehicles for business journeys

Also share information with your team about how to drive better to reduce air pollution and emissions.

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Since the pandemic most organisations have reviewed their approach to office based work. Benefits of hybrid working are often considered in relation to work-life balance and staff motivation, but there can be climate benefits as well. 

A shift to hybrid and home-working can mean staff and volunteers are less likely to use their cars or other forms of transport to get to your buildings and other spaces. To support this shift it is important to think about how you keep a strong organisational culture when people are working remotely. 

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Events, conferences and meetings are now often hosted online. This has improved accessibility and reduced the travel related carbon emissions. However, sometimes it isn’t possible to run a virtual event. There is a different type of energy that comes from being together in real life. 

If you have decided that a meeting or event needs to be in person, you can help to reduce travel emissions by always choosing a venue that can be reached by public transport. Make sure you check the timetables so that you can pick start and end times that fit with the bus or train options. 

If there is no public transport option, why not encourage car sharing and offer to help organise this. Car sharing to an event can have the added bonus of giving more time for networking and connections before and after the event. 

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Over 84% of people in Scotland live within 6 minutes of a bus stop. You can encourage staff and volunteers to take public transport through information and incentives. 

Encourage people who usually drive to try public transport for a day, and to reflect on what difference it made. Even if the journey time was a little longer they might have found it relaxing to have time to listen to a podcast or read a book.  

You could also consider offering an annual season ticket loan to help with the costs of public transport.

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A cycle to work scheme means that your staff can purchase a brand new bike to ride to work and the accessories to go with it, with no upfront cost. They pay for the bike tax-free, through payments taken from their salary.

It’s a great way to improve staff wellbeing, reduce emissions, increase loyalty, and save money too. If you already offer a cycle to work scheme you can give it a boost by getting staff to share their stories about using the scheme and the difference it has made to them. Cycling Scotland offer a wider range of support to help make it easier for staff to cycle to work, and at work.

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Road transport accounts for a quarter of Scotland’s emissions and it’s an important area to tackle, however it is often the most difficult. Local infrastructure may not be suitable for alternatives such as cycling, walking or using public transport. This will take time to improve, but often local authorities struggle with bidding for funding due to a lack of demonstrated support in an area for such schemes. 

Using your voice is a vital part of climate action, and highlighting gaps in your local area, as well as the desire and demand to change habits, will help encourage change. 

Engage in local schemes, respond to consultations or consider collaborating with nationwide organisations such as Better Transport. Check CommonPlace to see if there is a project in your area. 

Community transport services provide essential help to people across Scotland. Delivering food, arranging hospital visits and filling the gaps where public transport doesn't meet local needs.

You might be able to develop a new service in your area, or join forces with an existing community transport organisation to reach new people with green transport options.

The Community Transport Association in Scotland offers lots of support, information about funding and access to networks.

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You can use your travel and expenses policies to encourage staff and volunteers to make sustainable travel choices. You might find it helpful to use the sustainable travel hierarchy to help people think through the most appropriate travel option for different journey. Once you have agreed what your policy will say, make sure everyone understands the approach so that it is clear what expenses can be covered. 

Feel free to use this statement in your own policies and guidance for work based travel. 

“We are committed to minimising any adverse impact on the environment and maximising our contribution to fighting climate change. Therefore, we will always use active travel or public transport unless there is no other option.”

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If you have any organisational vehicles - cars or vans - consider going electric when it comes to replacing them. Make the case to funders for the environmental reasons for doing so. 

Another possibility is to join an electric/ hybrid car club as a corporate member. Many car clubs offer business memberships, low fees and costs and most offer electric or hybrid cars as standard. The number of locations and vehicles is growing all the time and will continue to increase the more businesses and individuals who sign up to these schemes.

Do some research and see what might be available in your area and if there isn't a car club scheme, perhaps encourage your council to establish one.‍

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