What is Sustainable Travel?

By Julia Thorley

Published: February 29, 2024

Sustainable travel

2 minute read

'Sustainable travel' - it’s one of those phrases that we hear a lot, but what does it actually mean? What is it that is being sustained and why does it matter?

Definition of Sustainability
For a mode of travel to be classed as sustainable it must be capable of being maintained (that is, sustained) at a steady level without exhausting natural resources or causing severe environmental damage. We can all play our part in this by making positive choices to minimise the negative impacts of the everyday journeys we make, whether this is popping to the shops, travelling to work or school or going on holiday.

What Travel Modes are Sustainable?
Sustainable travel encompasses every mode of transport that supports a healthy environment and, by extension, healthy people. Therefore it includes active travel – that is, those modes of transport that are ‘people powered’, such as walking, cycling and scooting. Beyond that, we’re talking about personal mobility that takes advantage of low or zero-emission, energy-efficient modes of transport, including hybrid and electric vehicles (EV); it’s better still if the battery is charged by solar or wind power. Car sharing counts, too, especially in an EV, of course. This might mean getting a lift to work with a colleague or borrowing a car when you need one rather than owning one.

Public transport is a great choice, too. Trains, buses and trams are significantly more carbon-efficient per passenger compared to private vehicles. Hop on the bus and you’ll be responsible for about a quarter of the emissions compared to doing the same journey by car.

Electric Vehicle Charging A bustling market, showing cyclist and pedestrians Bus driving through the town

Why Does Sustainable Travel Matter?
If we reduce our dependence on cars powered by fossil fuel, we play our part in improving the environment for everyone. Fewer cars means less pollution, which will mean cleaner air and as a result healthier communities. Of course, every time we move ourselves or transport goods we are generating emissions, but with a little planning we can help reduce them and their negative effects.


Call to Action!
At Brightwayz, we are always pleased when people choose active and sustainable travel options, but appreciate that it can seem quite daunting to get started, so we have lots of advice and resources to help you start small.

If it’s been a while since you travelled on a bus, for instance, why not give it a go? Could you ask your employer to be a little flexible with your hours so you can use public transport to get to work? Maybe you could jump on a train and go exploring! If you run a business, do you have somewhere your employees can lock away their bikes and scooters? Remember that every sustainable choice has a positive impact on our health and the health of the planet.

Cycle Planter with spring flowers in bloom

Here at Brightwayz social enterprise we love to provide information and tips to help you, your colleagues, friends and family travel in safe, active, sustainable ways for everyday journeys.

Our unique range of products is here to help support your active travel campaigns and 100% of profits from sales is ploughed back to support the work we do. Take a look at our range here and find something to help you inspire others to travel in good ways.