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The YES! No Impact Diary: Day 3

You've tried your luck at a day using alternative transportation. Did it work?
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So earlier today I was sitting smug with regards to today's focus on transportation, secure in my righteousness as a bus rider/sometime bike rider who hasn't owned a car since 2004. (Full disclosure, I spent the last five years in Seoul, a 1-minute walk from one of the best subway systems ever.) But a YES! Magazine article on the price of air travel reminded me that even if my daily commute is easy on the Earth, my visits to see friends and family are exceedingly not.

"A round-trip flight between New York and Los Angeles on a typical commercial jet yields an estimated 715 kilos of CO2 per economy class passenger, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization. But due to the height at which planes fly, combined with the mixture of gases and particles they emit, conventional air travel has an impact on the global climate that’s approximately 2.7 times worse than its carbon emissions alone, says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As a result, that roundtrip flight’s “climatic forcing” is really 1,917 kilos, or almost two tons, of emissions—more than nine times the annual emissions of an average denizen of Haiti (as per U.S. Department of Energy figures)."

I'm a little wary of carbon offsets becoming an environmental version of the medieval Catholic indulgence system, where a donation washes away your sin and gets you back into the good graces of God or Mother Nature. Living in Hawaii means air travel is pretty much the only way to go, however, and I think of carbon offsets more as self-levied taxes rather than purchased forgiveness. So in honor of No Impact Week’s transportation day, I calculated my 2010 air travel and invested in Native Energy’s current farm methane project. -Annie Koh

Been feeling a lot of guilt but I am becoming aware at least!

I am carrying around a plastic bag with my unrecyclable, noncompostable trash. I am surprised by the amount I generate since we don't use disposable products—Foil wrappers, molded plastics, straws from juice pouches, bottle caps. I'm generating about 14 pieces a week. Also am becoming very aware of the junk mail at school and home so I will get off the lists. No reason for all these trees to be cut down. Big fail on transportation—the only thing I was able to do was watch the mpg on my Toyota Sienna and try to keep it over 22. Been feeling a lot of guilt but I am becoming aware at least! -Alana


I ride my bike or take public transit almost everywhere. I bought a scooter several years ago, it is my only motorized form of transportation. I thought I was being so eco-friendly, until I understood what a 2 stroke engine is. I feel bad when I do use it. I try not to use it except in time crunch situations.

Yesterday I rode my bike to the light rail station, due to the cold and darkness, 6 a.m. is really dark in Seattle this time of year. I rode from the light rail to work about 3 miles. I rode to my boyfriend's house after work and we hung out until later that night. I tried to catch the bus, again it is really dark out there and the road home is not well lit. I ended up getting drenched and it was very cold as well. 

I can bike most places faster or just as fast as taking a bus.

When I woke up this morning I was definitely not feeling any bicycle love at all. All I wanted to do was stay in bed where it was warm. I finally motivated myself out of bed and caught the bus. I do not tend to enjoy the bus lately, I have had too many nightmare rides in the last two months. The light rail is my new best friend, second only to my bicycle. As I was walking from the bus stop to work I realized I missed my bike. Gah, why do I make these dumb decisions to leave it at home. Sometimes I think the bus will be faster or it is too cold or wet, but the serious reality is I can bike most places faster or just as fast as taking a bus. With connection waits it takes me one hour to work by light rail or by bus or all the way by bike. I just need to suck it up and buy the gear I need to make my cold wet rides tolerable and remind myself about those moments when I regret not taking my bike.

The bike represents freedom to me. It means that no matter what I have a way to get from point A to point B in a reasonable amount of time. I need to continually remind myself that it is completely about the ride not the destination. I love riding my bike and I miss it when I leave it at home.

My boyfriend even bought one to go riding with me last summer. We took Amtrak to Portland with the bikes and had a great bicycle adventure that I will never forget. Ahh the reminders of the joys in life outside the car. -Anonymous



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