It's almost Election Day. On November 8 – or earlier – United States citizens arrive at a polling place, stand in line and take part in the process to determine the country's elected officials. No matter how you vote, it’s enough to take time out of your day to conduct your civic duty.
Is there a green option out there when it comes to casting your ballot? Unfortunately, one doesn't technically exist. The voting method friendliest to the environment would be to sit in place and "think" your vote in. Today’s technology doesn’t support that – yet.
You can still vote green, however. It’s how green you take it that makes the difference. We've put together a list of dos and don'ts to consider before heading to the polls.
Walk (or carpool) to your voting place
Walking, cycling, even skipping to the polls cuts greenhouse gases. Heading to vote without turning an ignition key of any sort would cut a climate change contributor. One study suggests an annual savings of 3.8 million tons of greenhouse gases if you leave your car home once a week. Why not on Election Day?
Mail it in
Don’t give up on the voting process altogether. A Pitney Bowes study estimates a mailed-in ballot accounts for .055 pounds of carbon dioxide. That’s far better than motoring your Camry to cast a vote.
Drive to your voting place (especially in an SUV, during rush hour.)
The average car produces 20 pounds of carbon dioxide per gas gallon burned. To burn half a gallon on a round trip, that’s still 10 pounds of carbon dioxide. And auto emissions cause elevated atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide that will last thousands of years, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Fret over whether paper or electronic voting is greener
Paper ballot vs. electronic ballot is a tight race. A paper ballot produces about .03 pounds of carbon dioxide, according to calculations on environmentalpaper.org. It’s an extra 0.0004 pounds of emissions for the ballot scanner. An electronic poll emits 0.03 pounds of carbon dioxide per ballot – same as an actual ballot. A virtual wash.
Skip voting – and call it the greenest decision of all
Just as it’s not a stellar decision to skip school or work to preserve your environmental interests, it’s also a bad idea to skip out and leave the voting to everyone else. Your voice gives life to policy and procedure that can impact not only the environment, but your quality of life.
Finally, it’s Election Day. Don’t let it go to waste.