Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Reducing My Impact: A Year-Long Adventure. Month 4- Reducing My Driving

Happy August!?! Wow. I can't believe this is already month 4 of my year-long adventure challenge. For those of you who haven't been following along, I have been choosing one thing each month to focus on and have been trying to make changes that will reduce my impact on our Earth. In May I focused on reducing my meat and dairy intake. Since, my meat and dairy consumption has stayed pretty low. I have still been eating a small amount of meat on occasion, and have started to eat some cheese again, but I am consuming far fewer animal products than I was 4 months ago. During June, I worked on reducing the amount of waste my family produces. Our trash (usually) is considerably less than it was before June, and I still need to change to a biodegradable cat litter and work on a way of composting our cat waste. Last month was focused on reducing our water use. We made some simple changes that have lowered our water consumption, however, I still need to disconnect our backyard downspout and turn it into a duck water trough.
This month, I am going to be focusing on reducing the amount I drive. Car emissions are a major contributor to global warming, and I would really rather not be contributing to dooming our planet. Alas, I live in America, a car centered country, and have been raised in a society that relies on cars. I don't drive as much as an average American; my husband and I share one car, are mindful of where we are taking it, and try to walk when possible. However,  I use the car to get to work, run errands, and go on adventures on a regular basis. I am not willing to give that all up quite yet, but I am willing to reduce the amount that I drive. The funny thing is, as I write this, we are getting ready to go on a family road trip, so any driving reduction I do this month will be completely outweighed by the thousand or so miles we will be adding to the odometer. However, I hope that my reductions in driving will be a permanent change, and can help to "justify" using the car for occasional family road trips.
Anyways, this month I am going to be focusing on reducing needless driving. I am often in a hurry (trying to get 2 kids ready) and so I drive out of convenience. I also can't ride a bike with Finn and Phoebe (she is still too young for our Burley), so I drive when walking seems too far. We do take the bus a good deal, but for things like a big grocery shopping outing, it doesn't work to take the bus with 2 kids and try and carry a bunch of bags. So sometimes not driving is not really an option. OK, it could be an option, but my lifestyle would have to change. A LOT. So, I will still drive, but only when I have to. Here's what I am planning on doing:
  • I will take the bus to work whenever possible. Sometimes, this is not an option as taking the bus takes up to 1.5 hours each way (I live about a 15 minute drive from my work, but there is no good/reliable bus route to take during high traffic times), and sometimes these long commutes don't work with the childcare I have scheduled. But, when possible, I will bus it. I am also going to consider riding my bike to work more often. I sometimes bike to my field trips, depending on where they are, but I would like to look into biking to campus as well. I have very little time alone, and biking sounds more fun than driving for sure.
  • I will be diligent about not taking the car for shorter trips that could easily be walked. This may sometimes require more advance planning on my part (and will require motivation during those lazy times and during rainy weather), but it will also help me lose those lingering pregnancy pounds.....
  • When I do use the car to run errands, I will try and run a bunch of errands at once to pack all of my trips into one outing. That will mean less miles driven overall.
  • If I can't walk, I will always try and take the bus before I consider driving. Again, this will take more advance planning on my part, but I honestly hate driving anyways. It will be better for the earth and better for me.
  • That said, I know that I will still drive. We will be driving on our road trip, we will drive to take the dogs hiking, we will drive when there is no other easy way to get somewhere. I walk to get most of our groceries, but I will still drive to do big stock-up trips and to run other errands that aren't walkable. So, I know I won't be perfect, but I also know that I can do better. Let's see how much better I can do!
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1 comment:

  1. I love these posts so much, because you don't place unrealistic expectations/limitations on yourself or others. Never do you assign blame or criticize other people's actions. Instead, you lead by example, and demonstrate that compromises can be beneficial for everyone.

    I'm an environmental scientist, and in order for me to pursue a graduate degree, I have to drive 30 miles round-trip every time I go up to school. Seeing as the shortest bus route that would take me from Kentucky to Ohio would require almost two hours of riding, that is not practical. However, this post has given me new motivation to combine trips and do more walking/biking in town to help offset my own emissions. Thank you!