How we get from A to B forms a large part of our environmental impact. A major thing that we can do as individuals to reduce our environmental impact is to take a look at our transport habits and see if we can find ways to reduce our impact.
As with many areas of reducing our impact, this is easier said than done. On the 1st of October, 1908, Ford released the Model T. The Model T was the first car that ordinary people could afford to buy. In the one hundred years since, cars and the ability of the average person to buy and use one has completely changed the way we live and interact with each other over distances. Cars have allowed us a convenience that we could barely have dreamt of 200 years ago. Unfortunately, many governments and planning authorities have exploited this conviniece to a point where to many of us, the idea of living without a car is nearly impossible.
It’s a similar story with air travel. The only difference with air travel is that air travel only STARTED to become affordable to everyday people in the 80s. Since then, the price of air travel has steadily declined meaning more businesses can afford to shuffle their staff around the world and more people can afford to jet off to exotic and incredible locations. The idea of turning down a job or never seeing the world, just to reduce our own environmental impact, is a really difficult idea to tackle.
While transport is a difficult area to tackle, there are steps that we can all take to reduce our impact through transport. As with everything we talk about, there are no right or wrong answers. We simply want to share the value of asking our selves the question, is it worth it?
So, is it worth it to sell my car, buy a bike and never drive again? Maybe. Ultimately it depends on your circumstances. If your house, job, family/friends, amenities and hobbies are all within biking distance of each other and you can ride share or borrow a car when you really need it, then yeah it’s probably worth it. By selling your car you would instantly be saving more on fuel, rego and insurance than you should ever need to spend on a bike. Riding more will keep you fit and healthy and so you might be able to save money by ditching the gym membership as well.
What if you live in an outer suburb and are currently driving an hour and back to work each day? What if there are limited or no public transport options where you live? What if you regularly need to haul large amounts of stuff around to specific locations? What if your daily routine is a maze of pick-ups and drop-offs and the only way that you could possibly do it in time is by car? Then it’s probably not worth selling your car and trying to make do with your bike.
All any of us can do is work with the circumstances we’re in. For some people, certain solutions simply aren’t practical and to them, the convenience of their car is worth the environmental impact. That is okay. We can’t try and shift the blame to other people. We can’t just curl up in a sad ball and wait for the apocalypse. We can’t beat ourselves up over the areas of our lifestyle that contribute to the issue. What we can do is identify those areas. Once we’ve done that we can try and make changes to reduce our impact. If our current circumstances mean that we can’t make any changes or the cost of making a change simply isn’t worth it, then slowly work towards changing your circumstances. If there is absolutely no possible way that you could ever change your circumstances. Take a deep breath, accept the fact that this area of impact is an unavoidable part of your life and check out the rest of the website for other ways to reduce your impact.
So what now?
Apologies if the beginning of this page has been a little demoralising but here comes the spoonful of sugar. The speed at which we are finding ways to reduce the environmental impact of transport without sacrificing it’s convenience is increasing every year. In 2006, Tesla released the Roadster as one of the first fully electric cars to have a similar range and level of convenience that we have become used to with petrol cars. The car was expensive and initial models had many problems. On the 28th of July 2018, the Tesla model 3 started rolling off the assembly line. Today, there are over 11 different choices of fully electric car available in Australia alone. The most affordable of these options (that doesn’t look stupid, sorry Mitsubishi iMiEV) is the Hyandai IONIQ Electric which is available in Australia, beginning at around $50,000. While this is still a lot of money, more and more companies are releasing more and more affordble options for electric vehicles.
So, if your current circumstances mean that getting rid of your car isn’t worth it, have a look into the electric options that are available today. If $50,000 is still to much for your to spend on a car (fair enough) then have a look to see whether you could drive something more efficient and in the meantime, keep trying to find other way to reduce your impact and get excited for the future of electric vehicles.
As mentioned before, air travel is also a major part of our transport footprint. When looking for ways to reduce it we can ask ourselves, is it worth it? Is it worth taking a once in a life time trip to see a spectacle of nature that we’ve always dreamed about? Maybe. Is it worth taking the plane trip back home to see a sick family member? Probably. Is it worth taking your seventh trip to Bali just to get wasted on the beach and buy cheap stuff? Probably not. It’s ultimately up to you and your values to decide whether something is worth it. There are no wrong answers but if you think about it and make a decision based on those values, you can’t really go wrong.