Is it Easy Being Green?

My daily adventures in attempting an environmentally-friendly lifestyle

No Impact Experiment, part 3: Transportation February 1, 2010

My efforts to lower my impact continued into week three’s focus: transportation. I was a little worried about this one but I thought I’d give it my best go. I knew I wouldn’t be able to accomplish what No Impact Man and his family did: they eliminated all forms of non-human powered transportation, so they got everywhere on foot or bicycle. Impressive! The No Impact Experiment instruction manual suggested making a list of all the places I needed to go and to figure out what alternative transportation I could use, altering routes if necessary. I have to admit that living in downtown Chicago gave me many advantages in this challenge; this city is very walkable, and the “El” train is one block from my apartment. I walk or take the train or bus to many of my destinations already. I still do regularly drive though, so I decided to challenge myself and try to not drive at all for a full week.

I found that it really wasn’t difficult at all to accomplish this goal–I just had to plan things out a little more sometimes, give myself more time to get places and make sure I was dressed for the weather (brrr!). Another advantage, although a little embarrassing, is that I just didn’t have that many places to go during the week. I’m unemployed/working from home, so I didn’t have a job to commute to as I would normally. Even so, there were times I wanted to drive somewhere and just stayed put or went to my corner coffee shop instead. I was a little surprised that I was actually glad not to just go to the “safety” of my car, but find alternatives for transportation and ways to spend my time. (There may be something to this whole quality of life thing.) Frankly, although driving seems like the easy answer, it’s often such a hassle and traffic is so frustrating that I’m thankful to get out of the car, so the week without driving as an option was more peaceful. The only downer was the day I had to walk in the cold rain for longer than I would have liked. But, I survived just fine. It was actually almost fun. Almost.

The trickiest part I encountered was when I went grocery shopping. I’m used to loading up and then just getting the groceries in and out of my car, but on foot I had to make sure to buy only what I could carry. So, I wasn’t able to always buy everything I needed, making it necessary to make multiple trips to the store. I decided to look at it like I was living the exotic European lifestyle, so that made it feel a little more intriguing at least. I did my first shopping at the awesome new French Market that’s just a couple blocks from home–now that was fun!

After completing my challenge, I’m ultimately still glad I have a car, but I have realized that I can be a little more selective about how often I use it.