Yesterday I did the online carbon footprint calculator and was utterly shocked by the result. I must admit that I felt rather smug before taking it, thinking that my footprint must be smaller than the average person due to my conscientiousness efforts at recycling and turning off electrical appliances. Regardless, it turns out that I am living as if we had 3.26 planets to support us…..but we only have one. OUCH. Confronting or what? It would seem that I have many, many small changes to make to reduce my impact on our precious resources.
The calculator provides a list of eco-tips which can help us all to reduce our impact to living within one planet levels. One of the suggestions was something that I have been dwelling on for quite some time: how much I use the car. When considering that I only obtained my licence this time last year, it becomes quite obvious that much of the driving I do is as a result of laziness. I coped just fine without driving for twenty-seven years. So why is it that I simply can not imagine being without a car anymore? Convenience. When it is cold and windy or I have forgotten a strategic ingredient for the dinner I have already started to prepare, it is so handy to be able to hop into the car and whip across to the shops. Yet, my reluctance to endure a bit of cold weather or to carry shopping bags a short distance is clearly impacting our planet and there is really no excuse for that.
There are a number of things I can do to reduce the number of times I use the car in the week. Firstly, if I am more organised, I could get a week’s worth of groceries delivered each week to reduce my trips to the grocery store. You might think that online shopping is a lazy option but it is actually the eco-friendly choice. Rather than ten cars all driving to the shops, you only have one van on the road, emitting less fumes and using less petrol than multiple cars.
We also have a habit of parking at the train station when we travel into Central London so that we do not have to do the ten minute walk home at the end of an evening. I am rather embarrassed even admitting this, especially when a bus would take us from outside the station to a stop two-minutes from our house. No more lazy station parking.
I will often drive when public transport could just as easily take me to my destination. I justify this to myself by calculating the cost of the bus against the cost of petrol. Sadly, the bus is often more expensive. However, one thing I have not previously factored in is the cost to the planet. Therefore, at least once a week, I will opt for the bus rather than the car, even if it might take me slightly longer.
My aim is to become more aware of all the unnecessary journey’s I make with the car when there is an alternative option such as walking or taking public transport. I spend a lot of time complaining about the price of petrol when I could be using that time to walk instead of drive; I save money and the planet. Win-win.