When we think of Lyft, the ride sharing program that allows ordinary people to turn their cars into taxis, sustainability is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. After all, more cars on the road mean more green house gases being released into the atmosphere. How can a business that encourages driving over the use of bicycles or large public transit be a good thing?
In a groundbreaking new announcement, Lyft just proved that any business can make a positive impact on the environment. John Zimmer, co-owner of Lyft, made public that Lyft would be buying carbon-offsets for every single ride Lyft provides. This effectively makes every Lyft vehicle carbon neutral while performing its services. The carbon-offsets also cover the vehicle in route to pick up the passenger, ensuring that the “empty miles” that sometimes make ride sharing worse for climate change, are also off-set.
According to the post written on Medium, this is a multi-million dollar investment. It is the equivalent of planting millions of trees, and has real and long term impacts on the areas where Lyft operates. To achieve these aggressive goals, Lyft partnered with a company called 3Degrees, which specializes in helping large companies meet their greenhouse gas reduction goals.
You'll be able to see the impact Lyft is having on the environment right away. Since Lyft wanted their carbon offsets to specifically target the auto industry as well as the United States where they operate, that is where they chose to target their carbon-offsets. One of their largest projects is in an auto parts company.
Instead of heavy steel parts, a company invested in by Lyft, the Meridian Magnesium project, will be able to produce parts from 75% lighter magnesium instead. These parts are more expensive than steel parts, and though they are potentially stronger and definitely beneficial to the planet, they aren't usually made due to their high cost.
Lyft's carbon offsets will have a huge and immediate impact on the auto industry, making cars created with these parts more environmentally friendly for the lifetime of those vehicles. Best of all, the benefits of these changes go into effect this year. Lyft is carbon neutral as of 2018 through these purchases, and isn't simply pledging to decrease their energy levels within the safety net of a few years.
John Zimmer reports being very inspired by Paul Hawken’s Ecology of Commerce, and believes that businesses can make powerful changes to effect the planet. With this announcement, he has taken that idea and turned it into something very real, with the potential to change the world. Lyft eventually plans to add entirely electric and self-driving cars to its fleet, and has predicted that owning your own vehicle will be redundant as early as 2025.
Regardless of how the future turns out, Lyft has made amazing strides in the fight against climate change. They provide a phenomenal example to other companies about what large business can do, any large business, when presented with a global threat such as climate change.
Image source: Lyft