A friend was laughing over one of life’s little ironies recently. She wanted to apply for funding so that she could spend some time traveling the coast, spreading information on global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. She and her partner are both very concerned that they keep the planet clean for their children. But she had to break this conversation short. She had to rush off to drive the kids to a birthday party, then to a sporting event…
There is a lot of this. Folks move to the coast to raise their children in clean surroundings, and then spend hours a week driving them up and down the highway, up and down, with that twisted spiral of exhaust projecting each vehicle to a fresh event and occasion. And for the parents, there are those blasted eco-meetings to attend!
Surely we’ve all stopped short at some point to revel in the irony of a given situation. I think this may be one of those moments.
Following, however, is a list of well-known cures for the internal combustion blues. May we all embrace as many as possible, for the good of all those kids who just can’t miss another sporting event, and for the adults who want clean air for them to run around in.
- We could all spend money getting a tune up, so that our cars would run cleaner. This would make us more understanding of big factory owners’ resistance to installing stack brushes, by making us put our money where our mouths are.
- We could plan our lives more carefully so that we did all of our shopping at one time, in one big smooth circuit, with no doubling back to pick up one last item.
- We could arrange with neighbours to drop off library books or pick up some juice, or even agree to go shopping with them to keep one car off the road. This would add to our sense of community, as well.
- We could support events at our local community schools, so that kids could get there on their own, without being driven to a different area.
- Folks with kids could search out other neighbours with children and offer them rides to upcoming events
- We could do our shopping in large quantities so we wouldn’t have to shop so often. This would save money, too, as well as reducing packaging in the landfill.
- We could consciously plan “Stay At Home” days as frequently as possible.
- We could go without something (heaven forbid!!) until our next trip to the store, as a small sacrifice to our planet.
- We could coordinate our work schedules with visits to friends, or plan the pooch’s visit to the vets with a dentist appointment, to cut down on trips.
- If we lived near a bus line, we could check out their services. This would save wear and tear on our vehicle, as well as fossil fuels.
- We could consider a “car share” program with someone. This would save a lot of money in insurance, too. And by the very nature of having the car only part time, our planning and use of it wouldn’t be taken for granted.
- We could look at every saved trip as a pint of fossil fuel still unused and a gulp of air still breathable. We could walk. We could ride bicycles.
- We could meet by email or conference call. If we must meet, we could plan other tasks around our drive to the meeting place. We could plan the meeting centrally and carpool.
- We could stop complaining about how the government ignores environmental imperatives until we have fulfilled the above changes in our own lives.
There! If everyone on the coast made these changes tomorrow, we would likely cut our emissions by up to, oh, 8.535% by the very next day. I’m so excited, I think I’ll drive over to tell my friends … oh wait – I’ll phone instead.
The “How Am I Doing So Far” Checklist
____ I have had a tune-up in the last six months
____ I plan my driving day carefully so that I don’t double back for one last item.
____ I actively work with my neighbours to see where we could do simple errands for each other.
____ I encourage my kids to join events that they can reach on their own.
____ I actively work with other families to car pool to school, sporting events and parties.
____ I do my shopping in the largest quantity I can afford to keep shopping trips down.
____ I count “Stay at Home” days as a Badge of Honour
____ I go without single items (even chocolate) so that I am not making “single item” trips.
____ I am learning to coordinate my daily errands to mesh with appointments in that area so that my driving time is reduced.
____ I know how to access the local bus lines and know I should take the bus whenever possible.
____ I can consider sharing my vehicle. This will make me plan my life more carefully!
____ I walk or bicycle whenever possible.
____ I do what visiting I can by email or phone.
How are you doing so far? Never too late to start on that trail for clean air!