I have spent the past 4 years of chasing down busses so I didn’t have to wait 30 minutes for the next bus, changing seats to avoid creepy dudes that intentionally sat too close to me, and spending 1 hour to commute 6 miles to work. Public transit is one of those things that is really great to use in big cities with proper infrastructure and horrible to rely on pretty much anywhere else. My use of public transit hasn’t been because of my zero waste proclivities, it has been a matter of necessity because until very recently I have not had a car.
Buying a car is a pretty crappy thing to do when it comes to living zero waste life, but zero waste is not about perfection. While my carbon footprint will now be significantly larger than it was before car ownership, sometimes you have to choose your own needs over #zerowastegoals. As I have had the opportunity to take on more responsibilities at work, I have needed to attend more meetings outside of the office — not all of which have been within realistic distance for public transit or ridesharing services. My boyfriend also recently moved to a town 12 miles away from me that would not be easy to get to as much as I’d like via public transit. And, I was just really tired of having my life operate at the whims of Pierce Transit when changing routes can mean getting cut off from grocery stores or unable to get just about anywhere on Sunday.
Fortunately, when buying a car I was still able to make some decisions informed by my zero waste values. Whenever I’ve looked at cars over the past few years, I’ve always looked at hybrids since they are what I learned to drive in and they are better for the environment. And as a person on a serious budget, there is no way I could justify buying a new car. Luckily, a buddy of mine was looking to sell his used Prius and so I ended up with a pre-owned hybrid that will get me from Point A to Point B within my means.
Now that I own a car, I want to make sure I use it responsibly. I live in a walkable neighborhood so I intend to walk as much as possible to the places I frequent nearby. My mom has a knack for planning errands efficiently so that she doesn’t have to go back-and-forth inefficiently. By planning out where I need to when I run errands and figuring out the most efficient path before I leave, I can minimize the amount of driving I need to do (reducing my carbon footprint and saving gas).
If you live in a big city, by all means, embrace your public transit and try to go without a car as much as possible. But, if you live in a less metropolitan area try not to feel too guilty about relying on a car. Just by existing we impact the planet and deplete its resources. But by living thoughtfully, we can find a balance that reduces our impact while allowing us to live happily and productively.
p.s. owning a hybrid does not give you an excuse to drive everywhere. I remember a “Green” page in my yearbook featured a girl that drove a Prius less than half a mile to our school. Talk about a #zerowastefail.