Wednesday, April 30, 2008

God Damn It, I Am SO Easily Manipulated (By Me)

Every month, I commit to a monthly challenge, fully intending to quit when the month's over. Giving up Lean Cuisine was temporary. So was giving up toilet paper. But then, at the end of every month, well, new habits have formed, and it seems stupid to revert back. What started off as a temporary change is now permanent.

But the public transit challenge was different. First of all, it was inconvenient. And it involved exercise which I HATE. I spent the beginning of April counting down the days until this damn challenge would be over.

And then, things changed. Or I guess, I changed. I got accustomed to the exercise. The walking got easier, I felt healthier, and I looked better. I started seeing my longer commute less as an inconvenience and more as a convenient way to stay in shape. It hasn't been all sunshine and daisies. Yesterday, not only did my morning bus break down, but then the subway broke down in the evening, and we all had to wait 25 minutes until Metro got a subway up and running. But the major problems are fewer than I had anticipated, and the benefits are more numerous than expected.

So, today I went out and plunked down the money for a monthly pass for May. I'll still drive to work on occasion, but I'm generally going to keep taking transit to work. Besides, summer travel season is upon us, and I've got a few trips in the works including, gulp, a trip to India (I haven't been in five years and my grandmother is 85.) I'll be offsetting my flights, of course, but I figure it probably doesn't hurt to drive less as well!

To the math:

In March, I used about 39 gallons of gas and went zero miles via public transit meaning that my transport emissions were about 95% of the average American's. My goal for April was to cut my transport emissions in half. I am happy to say, that not only did I meet, but I exceeded my goal. I used about 13 gallons of gas in April, and went almost 350 miles via PT, which means that my transport emissions for April were 40% of the average American's.

Sure, I still have some work to do. But, all in all I'm pretty pleased. You see, transportation emissions were the ones that I had always shrugged off, thinking, "Well, can't do anything about that." I had taken for granted that cutting down those emissions was not merely difficult, but impossible. This month I reminded myself that most things are possible ... if you have the will.

Up next month, by popular request, MaLoFoMo, or the local food challenge! Join me as I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, visit farmer's markets, make my own yogurt, and search for the 100% local PB&J.


Joyce said...

Good for you! We are at about the seem place in gas usage, but we live in a MUCH smaller community, and our buses are practically door to door for us. It amazes me that you've been able to do so well!

Unknown said...

Dude, I friggin L-O-V-E An,Veg,Mir!!!! LOVE IT! I'm so excited about hearing what you have to say about. You're doing great with the public transit stuff. Keep up the great work.

pink dogwood said...

I loved animal, vegetable, miracle so much - well, I love anything that Barbara Kingsolver writes.

You inspire me tremendously - let me find a way to take PT to work at least once a week :)

Anonymous said...

Oh Yay!!! You rock, girlie! Out of all the challenges, I actually think taking public transit is one of the hardest. But you conquered it. I am mighty impressed.

Burbanmom said...

Great Job on the PT Challenge! That's awesome that you're sticking with it.

I've just started A,V,M too and am enjoying it very much. Hope you do too!

Unknown said...

Congratulations! I love public transportation. I started taking the bus when I started grad school because parking on campus is absurdly expensive. Then, when I had to go completely car-free, it was hardly a big deal at all. I was already used to busing on a regular basis. Now, when people talk about busing being too inconvenient I have to kinda roll my eyes.

Jennifer said...

Congratulations on the smaller gas usage! That's great.

I saw AVM at my local bookstore... it was hardcover and new, so it was $26. Sigh. They have it at the library, too... three copies with a huge wait list!

Anonymous said...

The book is awesome. I read it about six months ago and now my fiance is reading it.

ruchi said...

Jocye, thanks! Initially, I was a little disappointed with my gas usage, but then I stopped and reminded myself how far I've come.

SDG, I'm very much enjoying "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle." Look forward to several posts about it!

Pink Dogwood, I'm glad I inspire you. Even once a week of taking PT is huge! Those trips add up!

Cindy, yes, I agree. The PT challenge has definitely been the hardest. But it has also been one of the most rewarding (probably tied with the no frozen food challenge.)

Burban, yeah it's a fun fast read, huh? Next I'm moving on to Deep Economy which I believe is based on your rec.

Kaitlin, you're right. It's so ingrained that taking PT is inconvenient, but it's not AS inconvenient as we imagine it to be.

Jennifer, I managed to finally get a copy at the library, but it JUST came out in paperback if you want to check your bookstore again. You can also buy it used at Amazon Marketplace, EBay or Barnes and Noble if you don't have a used bookstore in town.

Badhuman, yeah, I picked it up a few days ago and I'm already about 150 pages in. I am REALLY enjoying it!

ScienceMama said...

You're so awesome! And I'm stoked on the local food challenge.

Sam said...

I'm surprised you found the frozen food challenge...challenging. I guess you switched to cooking all your meals at home? I suppose that would make things difficult.

On my PT front I am so relieved I don't have to deal with hormone crazed teens on my commute anymore. The tradeoff is I have to wake up at an ungodly hour, but not having teens make out and flirt near me is a blessing!

ruchi said...

Sciencemama, I am excited for local food too!

Beany, the no frozen food challenge was not especially challenging, I meant that it was very rewarding. :)

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

good for you!

Chile said...

Very good, Arduous, very good! Keep up the good walk.

Buy Anabolic Steroids said...

I am sorry, but what do use instead toilet paper? I really don't know.