Our country’s attention is currently focused – and rightly so – helping people left in dire straits after Hurricane Katrina. I’m hoping that everyone reading this has made some effort, somewhere, to help, through donations of clothing, food, labor, or money, or prayers. Our neighbors need all the help we can give them.
We’re also seeing the effects of Katrina’s devastation in the form of increased gas prices, and I suspect it’ll get worse. As I sat at a sidewalk café this morning, I saw a young couple drive up to the curb in an enormous SUV, jump out – and leave the motor running – while they ‘dashed’ into the café for 10-15 minutes, blocking the traffic lane. A plan emerged. Well, to tell the truth, it emerged after I squelched the desire to write rude notes on the windshield with lipstick.
It’s time to decrease my gas consumption, and not just because of cost. It’s time [perhaps even way past the time] for me to use less so that others can have what they need.
Call it what you will: enlightenment, altruism, whatever. Personally, I suspect it has more to do with being more at peace with myself, which seems to be translating into being better balanced and less ‘needful’ of things. This ‘needfulness’ has shown itself over the years as overspending, overeating, over-whining, and other less-than-pleasant characteristics.
So, what’s the strategy? Not leaving the engine running is obvious, as is figuring out how to combine trips. But it’s also a golden opportunity for adding more exercise. Riding the bike around town for errands, or walking with a rolling cart to carry some of the shopping is high on my list right now. And as I went through my day today, I kept asking myself ‘Is this trip really necessary? Can I do without it?’
So, after running Mom around this morning on errands [using a sort-of efficient route], my afternoon was spent on my bike, instead of in the car! I biked two miles to a friend’s house so I could let her dogs out while she enjoyed a day trip with her son and some friends [they took one car!], and then rode another two miles to get my nails done. This was followed by an afternoon break at the local coffeeshop, curled up with a small pot of tea and a good book, and then the 4 mile ride back!
This saved less than ½ gallon. But, at three times a week, I’ll save a bit more than a gallon per week, 5- 6 gallons per month, 60-72 gallons per year. It’ll add up, right along with the benefits of exercise. And if others join in, we’ll make a difference.