This first Green Challenge is based off of a commitment I made recently: I am no longer driving to school, even when I stay after for clubs and extra help. As much of a luxury as commuting in my own car is, it’s wasteful. There’s a bus for me in the morning, a bus when school is over, and an after school bus if I need it. Whether or not I drive, the buses continue on the same routes every day, using the same amount of gas. By driving in a separate vehicle, I’m just adding to gas usage and emissions.
Buses are noisier, the seats aren’t as comfortable, and the turns and stops jostle me around. However, there are upsides to riding the bus regularly again. My bus driver is friendly and sweet, and I always enjoy seeing her. Being an IB student, I never seem to have the time to read for leisure anymore, and I love to read. I’ve literally been working on the same book for almost a year, and within the first week of my bus-riding commitment, I finally finished it. Now I will actually have time set aside in my day for reading! I know I’m a nerd for getting excited about that, but I don’t care. Those who read live a thousand lives, and just one lifetime isn’t enough for me to do everything I want to.
So, it’s a small sacrifice, and to be honest I’m really not suffering at all. I’m three weeks into my commitment, and I’ve only driven to school once because I had to leave in the middle of the day to make a chiropractor appointment. Everything has gone smoothly and I don’t see any problems with continuing to the end of the school year. Already, just in these first weeks, I’ve noticed a significant difference in how much gas I’ve used and how much gas money I’m spending. Like most young adults, I don’t own an expensive Prius. My first car is the typical beater, and is only two years younger than I am.
Here’s my challenge for all high school seniors, and the occasional licensed junior: for one week, just one week, don’t drive to school in your car. Take the bus. Your younger siblings will whine and complain, but the truth is both of you got along fine taking the bus before you got your driver’s license. You’ll be fine again for one week.
Now, athletic students; I know your practices usually run beyond the after school bus pick-up time. It’s inevitable that you need to have your own transportation, whether you drive yourself or your parents pick you up. However, I’m not letting you off the hook. Talk with your teammates, and find out which ones live closest to you. Chances are you already know where they live based on friendship and team bonding events. Offer to take the younger teammates home instead of having their parents pick them up. Cut a deal with your older teammates: I’ll drive us on these days if you drive us on those days. During my junior year, I had a senior teammate that lived in the same complex as me, so it just made sense that we commuted together.
As for city dwellers, a quick Google search of Rochester’s public transportation rates brought me to this site: http://www.rochesterbus.com/citylines/citylines_fares.htm It appears to me that transportation rates are pretty cheap, especially if you’re only doing this for a week. Obviously, every city’s rates will be different, so make sure you do some research first! You’ll need to check for cost along with the locations of bus stops and bus schedules.
As for adults who are commuting in rural areas where there aren’t bus services, such as teachers at my small-town school, or my dad, a local mechanic, I have something that you can do as well. This also works for urban commuters who can’t make the bus schedule work with their schedule. Talk to your co-workers- do any of them live near you? Could you possibly start riding together to and from work, with only a small ten or fifteen extra minutes tacked onto your commute? What about your local friends? Have a discussion with them about where you live and work. Say you’re friends with one of your neighbors, and his or her job is on the way to your workplace. It wouldn’t be so out-of-the-way for you to drop them off on your commute, would it? Take that step and arrange a carpool, even if it’s only with one other person.
Next time you’re driving somewhere all by yourself, watch the other cars going by. Count how many have only one passenger as compared to many passengers. For me, whenever I do this exercise, I usually notice that there are more one-passenger cars than multiple-passenger. Then I think about how many of those one-passenger cars are headed in the same direction, how many are turning into the same housing complex, how many are pulling into the same grocery store. I want you to think about what you, your friends, your family, and even your community could do differently to trim down on your gas dependence.
It’s so easy for us to reduce the amount of one-passenger cars that are on the road; to start, all we need to do is have a conversation. This Green Challenge will actually save you and your friends’ money. Not all of the Green Challenges I create will profit you in that way, so I suggest taking advantage of this one! It’s simple and cheap. Seriously, there is almost zero discomfort in taking the school bus. Try saying out loud to yourself: “I’d rather be more wasteful and contribute to global pollution so that I don’t have to sit in hard seats and listen to a couple of kids talk loudly for a tiny portion of my day.” Sounds pretty selfish, huh?
If you have questions, need help or advice, or have any general comments, leave a comment below or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck! Maybe, like me, you’ll find this challenge is simple enough to continue beyond a single week.My next scheduled post will be on Monday; it will include the Harsh Fact(s) of the Week, Ecofriendly Economics, and it will reveal Viridorari’s first Animal of the Month!
This is my car, a 1997 Nissan Altima:
According to this website, my car gets a combined 24MPG: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/findacar.shtml
Go to that website to find your car's MPG!