Sustainable Stories: Carma Carpooling

EDITOR’S NOTE: We want to learn how other companies approach sustainability, so we’ve decided to publish a series of posts featuring innovative companies and people who are doing their part to support our planet. Our first post is courtesy of Lauren Albright, community manager for Carma Carpool.

What’s the name of your company and what’s your company’s mission?
Carma Carpooling is the world’s first social transportation network, helping people in the community set up shared trips anytime, anywhere. Carma is based on the idea that all good deeds come full circle. If you do something kind for someone today, tomorrow someone else will do the same for you. Offer up one of your empty seats to someone in need of a ride, and you’ll share transportation costs, CO2 emissions, fight traffic, and make a new friend along the way!

Please explain your company’s sustainability efforts and goals.
Carma tries to make carpooling as easy as possible for our members, by allowing them to find people in real-time that are close by. We’re trying to solve the commute problem, both from a traffic congestion and a pollution perspective. The average passenger vehicle emits 5.1 tons of CO2 per year, making our car culture responsible for 33% of U.S. emissions. Most Americans drive to work alone, which means there are an average of 3 empty seats in each car that could be put to good use. Those empty seats are causing unnecessary pollution! By riding with just one other person each day, we could essentially cut our daily CO2 emissions in half.

Why is sustainability important to your company, and how do your employees and/or customers participate?
Carma is a young company and our U.S. teams are spread out, so we don’t have large offices with sustainability programs (yet!).  But in our separate cities (San Francisco, D.C., Bergen, and now Austin), we are very engaged in the communities we serve and their sustainability initiatives. For example, our pilot in Bergen ran a program recently where they donated $1 to the World Wildlife Fund for every carpool trip to help polar bears in their region. Here in Austin, we’re looking into planning a promotion for Earth Week where we can take a green action on behalf of every carpooler that week. In San Francisco, one of the Carma programs is run in partnership with the Climate Protection Campaign.

And, of course, every employee for Carma is an avid carpooler! We like to live what we preach. Here in Austin, we have a branded Tesla which is 100% electric, so when I carpool with local users I can be free of tailpipe emissions.

Carma also helps companies looking to implement more sustainable employee programs with setting up carpooling networks through Carma. Through those programs, we are able to provide reporting back to the employers on the miles shared via carpool by employees, and calculate the carbon dioxide emissions avoided as a result.

What advice would you give other companies who are trying to get their sustainability initiatives off the ground?

  • Start small.  We tell our new users this – try just one carpool a week. If every person in Austin carpooled just once a week, we could cut all traffic by 20%.
  • Think outside the box.  Once you have the tools to kick off sustainability initiatives, whether that’s selling a sustainable product or getting employees to reduce their impact, it’s all about behavior change. We all know we need to be more green, we just don’t always do it. At Carma, sometimes we do wacky promotions– like letting our top carpooler borrow our Tesla for a week, or buying lunch for all of our carpoolers one day.
  • Ask for feedback!  At Carma we are always asking our users to tell us what they think. The feedback we get from our community influences all of the decisions we make for product improvements.

Carma Carpooling Mobile AppWhich ways can people support your company and where can they learn more?
If you live in one of our program cities, you can sign up for Carma and get started carpooling right away. Visit to learn about our programs. If you’re interested in becoming an ambassador and helping spread the word to your coworkers, neighbors or friends, email us at You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.


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To read about more businesses and people focused on sustainability, visit our “Sustainability Stories” archive by clicking here.