If you have not already noticed, I am worried about climate change. Everyday I learn more, read more, hear more; every day I am more worried. It seems crazy that we have gotten ourselves into this situation, and even more crazy that most of us are content to sit idly by while it happens all around us. However, I do understand why people choose to be bystanders – I was one of them only months ago. What could I do? How could I make a difference? These bad things are going to happen regardless of what I did. All I could do was just watch it unfold and hope for the best. Right?
Well, maybe, maybe not.
I can do things to effect change in my own life. I can inch things forward, little by little, by adding my voice to the thousands that are already on the cause. I can “be the change you want to see in the world”.
It is pretty hard to openly complain about the BP oil spill or the Alberta oil sands, and still jump in my car every time I want to go somewhere. But it is just so easy to jump in the car. But how can I complain about oil and still be a rampant user of oil? It is a double standard and I know it.
But it is hard. I wrote before of our car culture and its hold on North American society. I live in a city that is especially spread out, almost the worst urban spawl in Canada according to a recent study. This makes it difficult to get around without a car.
I was thinking about it, and there are four main areas where I use my car:
- Shopping (for just groceries due to my current shopping ban)
- Friends and family gatherings
- Family activities (for example, my kid’s swimming lessons)
Where could stop using my car? By far, the easiest to tackle is going to work. There is a bus that goes through my neighbourhood that heads straight downtown and can deposit me one block from my office. So, beginning in 2011, I have committed to taking the bus to work.
I have not taken the bus in about 10 years, so this was a really new way of transporting myself. After about 5 weeks, I am happy to report on my experience:
The entire trip takes about 35 minutes, as compared to about 15 minutes by car. This includes walking 10 minutes in my neighbourhood, and another 5 minutes downtown to my office. I am enjoying the bit of exercise this provides each day (30 minutes total). I especially enjoy walking home at night in the quiet streets of my neighbourhood. I reflect on my day. I notice how the snow beneath my feet sparkles in the street lights. I pass by houses, looking warm and cozy inside. I look up at the stars.
However, I am especially enjoying my time spent on the bus. For the most part, I read. I seem to never have enough time to read everything I want to read, especially now that I am greening my life from top to bottom. I have all sorts of books out from the library right now, ranging from gardening, to preserving food to making homemade cleaners. I want to soak up as much information as possible. My daily bus ride gives me time to do this.
I also enjoy making new connections with strangers. This may sound odd, I know. But I have made a commitment to strengthen my everyday connections. I want to be part of the of glue that holds us all together; so that we can better realize our shared humanity, our shared stake in this world. So I have conversations. I recently talked to one man who lost his house in a fire. I talked to another woman who I happened to work with 10 years ago. I often talk to the people waiting at the bus stop in my neighbourhood. I think it is healthy to connect with others, to not just live our separate lives in our separate cars.
All in all, it has been a good experience. I will gladly continue to take the bus. I have even started taking it for other types of trips as well. It does take longer, yes.
That’s okay. It gives me more time to relax, reflect and read.