Ardent Eden

Ardent Eden is a place to explore my thoughts about the interdependence of life - humanity and nature - and to engage with others for collective problem-solving.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

How Long Can We Go?

In an effort to make progress on my 2006 goals, I've been engaging in some little self-challenges recently. Besides the kilowatt game that I'm playing against myself (must get next month's electric bill below 160 kwh!), I'm trying a new eco-test to stay inspired and focused. This one has to do with the car.

I've written before about the car as a source of green guilt even though we use it relatively infrequently around town and a few times per year for trips to see family. We've grappled with whether it makes sense financially for us to sell the guzzler and get a more efficient vehicle. Having concluded that it's not feasible just yet, we're trying to further reduce our driving. The biggest impediments to reduced car use are the New England weather and the short winter days. Call me a wimp, but I'm not a huge fan of walking by myself in the city when it's dark and cold. But we're committed to this goal, so here's what we've been doing. I've been walking to the subway stop each morning and walking home each evening. It takes between ten and fifteen minutes, which really is nothing if you think about it. On the weekends, we're consolidating errands as much as possible. But I think the real kicker is that we've just gotten more comfortable hanging out close to home. We have a baby and a dog. We love to cook and read and write. We live within walking distance of a few lovely parks, good restaurants, and a couple of cafes. There is a lot to be said for staying local and enjoying the simple pleasures right before us.

So how have we been doing? Unlike the electric bill, the empirical evidence is harder to come by because I'm not sure how many miles we usually drive. The next time I'm in the car, I'll check out the odometer so that I have a baseline going forward. In the meantime, I'm using a very rough gauge of how much driving we're doing: how often we have to get gas. This month, I've gone to the pump once and put in $15.00 worth of gas on January 8th. I wonder how long we can go before we fuel up again?

Incidentally, this is yet another example of making an environmentally positive decision and reaping collateral benefits. In this case, it's guaranteed exercise each day and saved money. Those kinds of positive side effects always seem like the universe telling me to keep going, to do more. Will I meet the challenge?


  • At 11:38 PM, Blogger Norene said…

    I remember Boston winters. My husband and I spent a couple of very cold winters in Boston without a car. We lived in the North End for part of that time, and then out to the northern suburbs, on the orange line.

    The T is one of the things that I miss most about Boston. It's a great public transportation system, and I rode it daily even after we got a car. I especially miss all the walking I used to do going to and from the T.

    I like how this post recognizes the fact that making a change in favor of the environment does not necessarily lead to deprivation. It's a matter of perspective--you can look at what you've lost (the comfort of using your car more frequently) or what you've gained (the time together at home doing things you love). Like you, I'm finding that the little changes don't add up to feel like a burden, but instead keep leading me farther down the path I've started on.

  • At 1:24 AM, Blogger madcapmum said…

    Erg, that's the hardest one for us. We stay at home a lot, but our small town has almost no jobs, so my husband has to drive to work. He used to carpool, but the two men he carpooled with both moved to the city. We're really not where we'd like to be on this one.

  • At 4:49 PM, Anonymous Felicity Cat said…

    You could always use a pedometer as way to measure how much walking you are actually doing. It will give you a good sense of your fitness levels as well. Check out:

    I have done this in the past and found it a good way to challenge yourself to improve everyday.


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