What a Difference a Day Could Make

I know that the Gusher in the Gulf has every­one think­ing about the envi­ron­ment and our depen­dence on oil. I’ve been think­ing about it a lot at Our Little House.

If 911 didn’t start mak­ing us think about it, or the sky­rock­et­ing gas prices that hit an all time high in 2008, I think this was def­i­nitely America’s last wake up call.

Since my post about being depressed over the news, I’m sure many of us have found our own ways to deal with the dis­as­ter, to help relieve the pres­sure for the earth to give us  more oil.

Did you know that if every sin­gle American that dri­ves a car could reduce their dri­ving by 30 miles each week – in essence giv­ing up their cars for just one day – we could reduce America’s over­all con­sump­tion by 20 percent?

After read­ing posts on two of my favorite blogs, one being on Rowdy Kittens and the other at Chezsven, I won­dered if going car­less just one day a week would pro­duce results?

Alexandra wrote on Chezsven that she wished there were a “no car” day in her town. A day when peo­ple could just take a break from the smell of exhaust, the rush of the world and appre­ci­ate the beauty of the world around us.

Tammy, over at Rowdy Kittens, gave up her car and lives a com­pletely car-free exis­tence. She’s an envi­ron­men­tal hero in my book, but that’s not pos­si­ble for a lot of us.

However, do we really stop and think if we need to haul our kids in gigan­tic SUVs to school, swim prac­tice or their base­ball games each day? Do we really need to hop in the car to run down to the gro­cery store for that ingre­di­ent – do we even need that ingre­di­ent to fin­ish that meal or can it com­bined with another errand some other time? Even if you can give up your vehi­cle for one day a week, com­bin­ing errands is also a very good way to reduce con­sump­tion even more.

Some of my fond­est child­hood mem­o­ries involve walk­ing home from school, stop­ping at the Turner Food Store for some candy and chat­ting with the phar­ma­cist at McDaniel’s Drug Store.

I know par­ents don’t feel safe allow­ing their chil­dren to walk many places these days, so why can’t they take a break and walk to school with them or meet them after school? Who knows what you would notice or who you would meet in your neigh­bor­hood tak­ing a com­plete break from the car just one day a week.

Then there’s the money you would save.

There are approx­i­mately 250 mil­lion reg­is­tered vehi­cles in the U.S. today. What if only half – 125 mil­lion – were to stay home for one or more day a week? What if 50 mil­lion of us would stop dri­ving just for a day?

When I started using cloth bags over two decades ago, my hus­band poo-poo’ed my mother and I, say­ing two house­holds couldn’t make a dif­fer­ence. When I added up the num­ber of bags we had saved over 20 years, it came to about 10,000. Those were bags saved from land­fills and that’s 10,000 bags that didn’t use oil for their production.

I would say that’s made a dif­fer­ence. Now is the time to do more.

14 Responses to “What a Difference a Day Could Make”

  1. It is heart­en­ing to read about so many oth­ers fight­ing the good fight!

  2. I try to drive only 12 days a week. Sometimes, that isn't pos­si­ble due to fam­ily demands, but I really do try to drive as lit­tle as pos­si­ble … which isn't easy since we live in a rel­a­tively remote location.

  3. Frugal Kiwi says:

    We've just moved to a small town and I LOVE that I can walk every­where in town in 20 min­utes or less. I can get the library and two dif­fer­ent gro­cery stores on foot in 10 min­utes. Or I can stop off at one of the three butch­ers or the green gro­cer on my way. This is how liv­ing should be. With us both work­ing from home and being able to do most errands on foot, we usu­ally only use our car when we go for adven­tures on the weekend.

    • That's won­der­ful, Frugal. Living in NZ, I'm sure walk­ing is the more accept­able mode of trans­porta­tion any­way. Our daugh­ter lives in Munich and doesn't own a car. She walks, bikes or takes pub­lic trans­port every­where. She loves the money she saves from not hav­ing a car!

      • Frugal Kiwi says:

        Sadly, most of NZ is trag­i­cally under­served by pub­lic trans­port and bike trails. Auckland is a night­mare to get around in with­out a car and bik­ing can be down­right dan­ger­ous. Frugal Man's doc­tor was killed in Auckland whilst rid­ing his bike.

        Wellington is the main stand out for decent pub­lic trans­port in this country.

  4. Kathleen Winn says:

    We are mov­ing from the city to the coun­try in just a few weeks. I am actu­ally look­ing for­ward to many of the envi­ron­men­tally ben­e­fi­cial changes that I will be forced to make. Our sep­tic sys­tem will not be able to han­dle garbage– so no garbage dis­posal. Instead, I'll keep a com­post­ing pail on the kitchen counter and empty it every day into a com­post­ing bin. There is already a clothes­line at the new house, so I'll be hang­ing our laun­dry on the line instead of using the dryer. I will also have to limit my dri­ves to the gro­cery store, which is at least a twenty minute drive (com­pared to the five min­utes I now have to drive to get gro­ceries.) And, as you point out Kerri, that will take bet­ter plan­ning on my part and a will­ing­ness to think ahead about what we'll need to stock up on. In fact, all of our errands– phar­macy, post office, bank etc., will have to be con­sol­i­dated so that we aren't mak­ing numer­ous trips into town. I'm not sure I'd have the moti­va­tion and dis­ci­pline to make these changes if I weren't forced to by cir­cum­stance, but I know there are many things I could already be doing in my "city life," to con­serve energy and reduce waste. If we hope to some­day elim­i­nate our depen­dence on oil, along with its destruc­tive envi­ron­men­tal, polit­i­cal and finan­cial costs, Americans have to embrace change and be will­ing to make a few sac­ri­fices. I believe we can do it.

    • I know we CAN do it, Kathleen, but will we? It still amazes me how many peo­ple, espe­cially in our area of the coun­try, don't think twice about hop­ping in the car 3, 4 or even 5 times a day to do errands that could all be com­bined.
      Yes, you will have to think and plan ahead. One thing about being in the coun­try is that unless you want to spend every dime of dis­pos­able income or at least a half day every­day dri­ving, you learn to make lists and do all of the errands in one trip! It's exhaust­ing, but at least you don't have to do it but once a week! ;)

  5. Alexandra says:

    Thanks for the men­tion! I have dis­cov­ered that spread­ing the word through blog­ging helps, as does bring­ing up these top­ics with my B&B guests. It makes peo­ple think more about the soci­ety we have cre­ated and what can be done to improve it.

    My thing right now is toxic chem­i­cals in the envi­ron­ment, ever since I read Slow Death by Rubber Duck and heard a rep from the American Chemical Council insist on NPR that BPA is not bad for peo­ple. Ha! We do not have to sub­mit to toxic chem­i­cals in the envi­ron­ment sim­ply because the gov­ern­ment has not set new rules. Government lum­bers along. The online com­mu­nity moves fast. Maybe we can influ­ence some of the slow-moving leg­is­la­tors and get them to under­stand sup­port for cor­po­rate America will no longer work if they want to be elected? Start by call­ing your leg­is­la­tors and urg­ing them to sup­port the Safe Chemicals Act, now in Congress. Eliminate plas­tic. Drive less. The coun­try does still want change. Remember Change we can count on? Let's all cre­ate those small changes in our own lives and get peo­ple around us to make them, too .…Yeah for the rip­ple effect!

    • I hope blog­ging and spread­ing the word helps, Alexandra. I saw a seg­ment on the national news about this the other day and you would be sur­prised (or maybe not) of how many peo­ple they polled who said they wouldn't give up their car for one day. Not couldn't, as in they need to get to work each day, but wouldn't. We look for­ward to stay­ing home at least one day each week (Dale's been work­ing 6 days a week and has to have the car on Sat.) and not dri­ving. It's actu­ally freeing.

  6. V Schoenwald says:

    I have been doing the same as Kristi has done at the farmer's mar­ket. I sell my over abun­dance of pro­duce from my gar­den, and I grow herbs for culi­nary use. In order to get peo­ple here to do any­thing, you must show them, so I have com­piled recipes to use for the week's farmer's mar­ket and take my herbs and the other's pro­duce to make week­day and week­end meals. I have been help­ing to sell more herbs and helps the oth­ers to sell what they have, plus telling peo­ple about local food grown with love and health, and sup­port­ing the local busi­ness and not the big box that does not care about you and your family.I also use cot­ton and hemp shop­ping bags, and boy, talk about a stir in my town when you do this, I have heard the word" hip­pie" sev­eral times, but that's ok…
    I also bike, though my town is not bike friendly, and is very spread out to shop effec­tivly, I bike to my local store one a week for sta­ples, and take our local handy bus to get my mail at the UPS store. Unfortunatly, I have to have my mail deliv­ered to a box as my neigh­bor­hood is very bad and you can­not have mail deliv­ered as it is usu­ally stolen so I have to resort to this method, and it does cause some stress, but I make up by shop­ping one a week. I am shoot­ing for a goal of once a month.
    I have cut back on fuel by plan­ning my trips around the day I shop, so, gro­ceries, mail, errands, and such are planned and I have cut my fuel by over 60% by just watch­ing what I have done, I have been doing this for quite a few years but I have really stepped up to really cut back. I would love to give up the car period, but I have elderly par­ents I care for and I can­not do it at this point in time.
    Anyway, Kerri, great post as usual, I just do not have answers to such mon­ster prob­lems, and I again, some­times, just have to shut it off for a while, but it does not mean that I have shut out the thought as to how to make a dif­fer­ence.
    Also, (I'm rant­ing, Kerri, sorry!) peo­ple need to also real­ize you just some­times just have to make change in your life, it is hard, very hard, but you can do it, its like when I am at farmer's mar­ket, peo­ple say to me, "I work, and I just don't have time to cook", I gen­er­ally tell them, you need to slow down at least once a week, and make a day or evening of it. It is a habit that must be devel­oped over time, and can­not be done overnight. I try to give tips as to prep pro­duce when they get home, and have it ready to throw into the pot or my fave the Crockpot and you are on your way. I think that peo­ple need to real­ize you can­not tackle lifestyle changes overnight, but by lit­tle baby steps and mov­ing for­ward. (Sorry for the rant, Kerri, 40 lashes.….)

    • Rant on, V! :) I know I'm preach­ing to the choir here. I'm sure many in our Living Large com­mu­nity are liv­ing an even more sus­tain­able life than we are. You all give me some good ideas too! We've already cut our errands to once a week and I'm work­ing towards cut­ting them to every other week too. Just need to get the cash reserves to buy two weeks of stuff all at once and the orga­ni­za­tion to plan that far ahead!

  7. Kristi says:

    I totally agree. I can't effect big changes until I make the small changes that I am in total con­trol of. You never know who you are inspir­ing and where that rip­ple effect might end. I got involved with the Farmer's Market here in our town, not because I want to make money, but because it allows me to preach the gospel of eat­ing locally and in sea­son. And, if peo­ple see that some­one like me, who is not rad­i­cal, can make an attempt at loca­vorism, then maybe they can make a few adjust­ments to their routines.

    Keep on send­ing the mes­sage in a friendly, non-threatening way. Showing how small, pain­less changes can add up. You go girl!