Oh, to be car-free

I’m realizing that attempting to live a “simpler” (in a more environmentally sensitive, gentler on the earth kind of way) life just ain’t that simple. Want to recycle mixed paper? Gotta drive it to the recycling center. Want to eat local, organically grown food that doesn’t come in ridiculous amounts of packaging? Gotta shop at multiple markets and stores. Want to be car free with kids? Gotta schlep to the bus stop with two kids, bags of crap needed for the day (e.g. diapers, wipes, snacks, toys, books, strollers, phone, keys, wallet, etc.), hope the bus arrives in fewer than 10 minutes before children start playing in the street or losing their cool, then hope we don’t have to walk more than 4 blocks with kids and above mentioned items to get to our destination (because at that point, I’ve probably lost my cool!). In NYC, maybe…in Chapel Hill, NC, probably not!

Our town is celebrating car-free day today, encouraging people to use our excellent FREE public transportation or ride bikes or walk where they need to go. This sounds so wonderfully environmental, but if you have young children to transport, it’s no easy task. We walk our daughter to school, so for approximately 20 minutes each day, I’m a willing participant in car-free living. But after that, I’m off and running in my non-hybrid, gas guzzling VW wagon. My son has to go to school (5 minutes by car OR 30 minutes by bus), I have to go to work (I work in client’s homes so the bus is usually out of the question), and my husband has to go to work (20 minutes by car OR 1 hour by bus requiring a transfer to a transit authority bus). Then, at the end of the day, we do it all again in reverse.

I care about our environmental impact…really, I do! But I’m only willing to give up so much time and convenience (and sanity). So I’m checking out a new resource called TerraPass that allows me to drive around town with slightly less guilt. For $50 a year I can help to offset the 12,000 lbs of CO2 my car emits. The money is used to help sponsor clean air initiatives (such as wind energy) to balance out my environmental impact. Seems like a nice (albeit lazy!) way to feel a little greener without totally wrecking my day. Hmmmm…I’m dreaming up Christmas presents for beloved family members as I write this…Terrapasses all around!

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One Response to Oh, to be car-free

  1. Uncle Rogan says:

    Another great Perri-post. I spent 2 years agonizing over what car to buy while still living in the wilds of upstate New York, weary of my gas-miserly Civic skidding into ditches every other weak. Finally swallowed hard & got a Murano, the most gas-efficient of the “CUVs” (crossover utility vehicles). Did great in the Syracuse snows last winter…then I wound up moving to NYC. Now it molders in a garage while I walk everywhere.

    Interesting to see how many mega-guzzlers (Hummers, Escalades, etc.) are here in the city–brother Cleve & I were marvelling at it yesterday, as we walked through narrow Soho streets faster than the elephant-vehicles could lumber along.

    Will get the car out again after Christmas, to try out my TerraPass! Keep the fascinating tales coming, Perri… especially loved the story of Phereby’s three money-jars. What WILL she do with all her earnings? (Send her up here for a weekend–she’d burn through it all in about 20 minutes.) Cleve & I are going to try 3 *days* of non-consumerism next week… we’ll see if it’s possible here in the Temple of Mammon. love Ro

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