I'm in the process of selling my car, which means I now have the opportunity to find a more environmentally-conscious mode of transportation.
Public transportation is the obvious answer! Moving as many people as possible in one vehicle means using less gas, and therefore cutting down the environmental impact.
Here's the catch: My town does not have any form of reliable public transportation. In fact, the nearest bus stop is miles away. The reality is that depending on where you live in the U.S., having a personal vehicle can be as vital as any other basic necessity, like shelter. It can be the difference between getting to work or losing your job, especially considering the average commute time in America is over 20 minutes one-way by road. Since there are no buses or subways (or even local ride-share programs), this is an option that's simply not available to me.
Bicycles are an option I've considered, and would probably enjoy. I used to spend hours riding my bike as a young human. It would be possible to access some of the places I need to get to on a regular basis. But not all, and certainly not all year long. When you live above the snow line, bicycling in winter isn't really a feasible option, especially if you have children. I might dust off my old helmet and run a few local errands during warmer weather, but I doubt I'll be able to fit a week's worth of food and supplies in that tiny handlebar basket. Sadly, bikes are out too.
Electric car: This is the ideal option. A personal vehicle but with a minimal footprint. Unfortunately, this one comes with a catch too. An electric vehicle is only as green as the source of electricity that's used to charge it- and unfortunately, my house is on the grid. According to my utility company, only some of the electricity that powers my home comes from sustainable sources.
So there's my dilemma, and sadly I don't yet have a solution. However, this does raise two very important topics worth discussing.
1) Accessibility to green resources. Once again we are reminded that the ability to make eco-friendly choices can be strongly influenced by the resources we have at our disposal. If a small, midwestern town does not have the funding for public transit, it isn't going to implement it. And electric cars are still considered to be somewhat of a luxury item, not an every-day family car. Since the state of our finances plays a huge factor in making big purchases, affordability is going to make-or-break someone's decision in buying electric or gas. If you're a working-class family, and you can get a used gas-powered car for a few grand, while the cheapest used electric-car is in closer to ten grand... most people are going with gas.
2) Fighting climate change involves changing everything about how we live. It's not enough to go out and buy an electric car if you're still burning coal to power it. Our entire system needs an update (alternative energy sources like wind and solar will definitely be a topic for a future blog post).
I don't know what this will mean for the changes I need to make in my life, but I'll be sure to post here when I do!
Until next time,