In nary a child-rearing book, are there warnings about the large role transportation plays in motherhood. Though I should have guessed it from the days of my own childhood - in which my mother and father would drive 90 minutes round trip from our home in the country, five days a week, to support my passionate commitment to a life in ballet - becoming a mother really means becoming a chauffeur as well. From the grocery store to pre-school, to grade school, soccer, gymnastics, play dates, and back to the grocery store, time spent in the car grows exponentially as does your family. Heck, there are even late night runs to Target to find the exact same stuffed bunny Aunt Betty gave Joey back at Christmas to which he has grown so attached, now can't find, but is a necessity to falling asleep.
With all those errands, extra-curricular activities, and perhaps even commuting to work, ever wonder how much of your life is spent in the car? Approximately 34 hours per year for an average American. 82 if you live in California. (Texas Transportation Institute, 2008). The overabundance of cars on the road costs us approximately $78 billion a
year, 4.2 billion lost hours, and 2.9 billion wasted gallons of fuel. And let's not forget about the negative effect on global warming, air pollution, and political instability.
We spend too much time in our cars.
Moms, it is time to flex your power! Simple changes in daily transportation habits can dramatically improve not only quality of life, but the long term environmental health of our world. There's a reason Number Three on the EcoMom Challenge is Drive More Efficiently, and it goes beyond what kind of car you drive. This is not just about whether you have an SUV or a hybrid, whether you need three rows or can get away with two, need four wheel drive or just like the idea. The circle is much larger and the web more interwoven. It is easy to make positive changes.
By choosing to buy groceries at a local market, where produce is grown by local farmers, and there are options for locally raised meat, you not only reduce your own time sitting in traffic, you support a regional economy and benefit from food that is healthier for your whole family. (Most food travels over 1,200 miles before it reaches your table, losing nutritional value and wasting fuel in transportation.)
By carpooling, you not only gain an extra twenty minutes in the morning, you get to know your neighbors more and save money on gas.
By signing your children up for locally taught classes and summer camps, you avoid sitting in traffic, and henceforth save time, energy, and fuel costs. Plus you'll enjoy connecting with other parents in your community while you watch your children learn and grow together.
By jumping on the bike instead of piling in the car, you'll reduce not only your own waist, but our collective waste.
By shopping online at sites that meet a variety of lifestyle needs in one place, you reduce time in the car and save on shipping costs.
By keeping tires properly inflated you increase gas mileage, saving time, money and resources at the pump.