WYD for the environment?

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We're beginning a series where we talk to a range of people and organizations about what they're doing to make a positive impact for the environment.  Our first features Zipcar.  Here we hear from Stephanie Aboulafia, Regional Community Marketing Manager NYC.

How do you see Zipcar making a positive impact on your members' environmental footprint?
Zipcar’s mission is to enable simple and responsible urban living. For us, that means providing people in cities like New York the option to get around without the cost and hassle of owning a car. We’ve found that over 50% of NYC members ditch their personal cars and use car sharing instead, which has lots of positive environmental benefits, like reducing carbon emissions by more than a ton. This same amount of carbon emissions is reduced by saving 32 bags of trash from the landfill – so the savings are significant! 

Do you see an increased interest from your members in recent years around making a positive impact?
Our growing community of Zipsters underscores the increased desire people have for sustainable transportation options. And because more and more people are choosing to share cars rather than own them, we’re freeing up important space for people, and all the things that make cites fun, vibrant, and healthy places to live. Over 26,000 cars are taken off NYC streets because of Zipcar – and with that space, nearly 300,000 bicycles can be added throughout the city. 

Our Do Just 1 Thing campaign is all about simplifying things to empower people to sift through the overwhelming amount of information about our environmental challenges and solutions in order to make a positive impact in just minutes.  If you could recommend people do one thing to make a positive impact, what would it be?
Switching from owning a car to sharing one is easy and has a huge impact on the environment. Studies show that each Zipcar reduces the need for up to 13 personally-owned cars on the road, which means fewer carbon emissions and less traffic. We’re making the switch even easier this Earth Month by offering free memberships. Those who are interested can visit here to join.

Zipcar was really the very early leader in the sharing economy space. There's a lot of potential for the sharing economy to push things in a more sustainable direction as sharing resources can inherently be a more sustainable model.  How can we make sure that things move in that more sustainable direction?
The biggest thing we can do to encourage sustainability is to continue to make sustainable choices as a company and support other organizations and modes of transportation that share a similar mission. Zipcar partners with a number of public transit agencies like NYC DOT and non-profits like Earth Day Initiative to ensure we’re enabling city dwellers to live simpler, more responsible urban lifestyles. The more options people have to get around, the more likely they are to live car-free or car-lite.

Corporations wield a lot of power when it comes to sustainability as they can shape the behavior millions of individuals.  What role do you see corporations playing in addressing environmental challenges?  
At Zipcar, we believe that the future is shared and that both businesses and consumers play a significant role in creating smarter, cleaner cities. Can you imagine a world with one million fewer cars on the road and cities with more green space than parking lots? This is a vision we believe will be a reality. Pretty exciting.

Who do you admire?  Not necessarily in the world of sustainability, but in any domain.  Who do you look up to who is making a positive impact in the world?
I have been lucky enough in my career to be surrounded by many powerful leaders that have made an impact on me. At Zipcar in particular, we have an amazing group of female employees that have climbed the corporate ladder, have happy and healthy families, and are good and inspiring people who are passionate about working at a company that is making a difference in the world. These women are exactly who I admire and hope to become one day.