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14 Things to Know About Zero Emissions Day and Carfree Day

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Two emissions-reducing holidays are coming up. Participate in ZeDay and Carfree Day with these tips.


Mark your calendars — two important days are coming up. September 21 is Zero Emissions Day, and the next day, September 22, is World Carfree Day.

Here’s what you need to know about each of these “holidays”, plus a few tips on how to participate.

Zero Emissions Day

  1. Canadian company Sealevel first conceived Zero Emissions Day (ZeDay) in 2008, with the mission of “giving the planet one day off a year.”
  2. Participating is simple: for 24 hours, don’t use gas, oil, or coal, and use minimal or no electricity generated by fossil fuel.
  3. ZeDay coincides with International Day of Peace and World Gratitude Day.
  4. The date was chosen because the length of days and nights are equal, and the amount of light is fair to those in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
  5. Prepare in advance by eating most of the food stored in your fridge or freezer, so that when you turn off your power for the day, you can feast on what’s remaining in the refrigerator, then give it a cleaning before restocking it when you turn the power back on.
  6. The organizers have a vision that one day, perhaps ZeDay will even halt transportation like planes, trains, and boats… if you have someplace to be on September 21, get there beforehand.
  7. Enjoy the mindfulness and the discipline of not automatically turning on light switches and appliances.

World Carfree Day

  1. This international event encourages people to leave their cars behind, and instead take public transportation, bike, or walk to where they need to go.
  2. Supporters hope that the results of the day will inspire citizens and city planners to envision a world where we are less reliant on cars.
  3. World Carfree Day was originally scheduled to coincide with European Mobility Day, but its roots lie in car-free days organized during the oil crisis in the 1970s.
  4. The prevalence of car culture is believed to increase pollution, use resources faster than they can be replaced, destroy habitats, and diminish the quality of communities, not to mention cause deaths via accidents.
  5. Map out a route to work or school that is possible without driving a car. Combine transportation — e.g. biking to a train station — if you can’t get there easily.
  6. Encourage friends and neighbors to join you in going car-free for the day. You can even bike or walk together to work or school for support or safety.
  7. Motor vehicles account for about 14 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. Carfree Day really does show results: at a 2004 Carfree Day event in Montreal, Canada, measurements showed a 90 percent reduction in nitrogen monoxide and a 100 percent reduction in carbon monoxide at the traffic intersection where the event took place.

What will you do to participate in ZeDay or World Carfree Day? Make your pledge in the comments below.

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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan

I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same.

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  • lisa p. 2 years ago
    I wish it were that easy to just opt to use a bike or public transport. I loved it when I lived in NYC where almost everyone uses public transport, but out here in LA, Drivers AIM for cyclists and pay NO attention to their right to be on the road which forces them onto the sidewalk, which is also bad. We need to urge our legislatures on a weekly basis to do something about making the roadways more Cycle friendly and to time the crosswalk lights so a normal person can make it across.
  • Alma G. 3 years ago
    In my home country Colombia (A supposedly third world country...I wonder why if we are more Eco-friendly that the 1st) there is a day without car every month (People must prepare to transport by either human traction or find a way to do it) and let the city breathe!
  • Kelly F. 4 years ago
    I'm all for walking but if you're pressed for time or lugging around alot of items or going to a town a half hour away by driving, a car DOES make more sense; I'm lucky I live near work where I can walk but many people don't. Also I have friends in different towns and hangouts in different towns so I need my car. Also a car is a rite of passage as a young adult; it's an accomplishment as well as a necessity. Even if you and your social circle take turns driving well someone is driving AND you are dependent on cars to get around, if not your car then your friend who's picking you up; sometimes you might meet up w/ friends if it's easier. People are coming from all over. But bikes and walking are great ways to get around; idk why people drive if they're just going up the block or something. Enjoy the weather when it's so nice out.
  • joanna l. 4 years ago
    All year round we have a bulletin board that posts rideshare information and there are also bus and train maps. They really came in handy during the blizzards last year!
  • joanna l. 4 years ago
    I have distributed flyers and raised awareness at work about car free day long island. I have also pledged to go car free on September 22
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