Last week we talked about taking a rest and reflecting. To get a break, many people like to travel. However, we know that mobility – be it for holidays or for daily ways – has a huge impact on the environment and our health (e.g. air pollution).
This does not only include the means of transport we use, but also the place we stay at if it is not our own home (e.g. hotels). It saves resources to stay at a friend’s or even stranger’s place (couchsurfing, not AirBnB). Also staying at youth hostels/easy hotels is more resource saving than staying at 4- or 5-star hotels. If you want to stay at hotels anyways, consider bio hotels or veggie hotels. They use healthier materials for renovating and decorating their houses and pay attention to healthy food. They also work on reducing their negative impact and increasing the benefits.
You can check your mobility behaviour when looking at the responsibility pledge file, which I shared with all of you, for example. Avoid cruises at least! And often the train is a good alternative to flying, even if it takes a bit longer. You can see the way as part of the experience and start resting already during the ride!
People also share a common misperception. We think that we are faster and therefore save time when we use planes and cars. However, this just leads us to travelling more. Holidays on the balcony can be way more relaxing than going somewhere far away due to all the needed preparations and stress involved with parting.
This week I watched a German talk show (https://www1.wdr.de/daserste/hartaberfair/videos/video-welt-im-klimawandel-wieviel-koennen-wir-selbst-tun-102.html) on the topic of sustainability. There were some facts missing and incorrect details, but in total it was quite interesting. I liked what one of the panel members said when it came to mobility.
“Cars are the opposite of mobility. They are standing around more than 90% of the time.”(own rough translation)
Cars are moved about 15 minutes per day. So why do we spam the streets with polluting metal boxes when they are rarely used? Most people do not use cars at the same time, so many people can easily share a car (carsharing can be organized privately or use a company offer). Most ways are shorter than 5 or 10 km and can easily be cycled or walked or bridged with public transport.
See my post with 10 reasons for cycling: https://cathagoessustainable.wordpress.com/2020/01/16/10-reasons-for-cycling-some-rules-for-food/
Many people realize that cars (at least in cities) are largely superfluous and prevent us from having a higher possible quality of life. Some politicians are addressing this topic and I really loved to hear about the plans of the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. If she is re-elected, Paris could become a really great city to live in. Currently it often stinks, is dirty and dangerous in terms of cycling or walking. I have lived there, so I can say this.
She wants to replace several parking areas with green spaces, car lanes with bike lanes and pedestrian walks, etc. Every citizen should have the most important things available in a distance of maximum 15 minutes and therefore wouldn’t need a car. See examplary pictures and read more about it here: https://utopia.de/paris-buergermeisterin-plant-stadtumbau-autofrei-175262/
Goods can be transported with carrier bikes and for very big items there can be transport cars for rent, etc. Anne Hidalgo’s plans are actually not that different from what I sketched in the Dream series last year, e.g.: https://cathagoessustainable.wordpress.com/2019/09/26/chapter-3-mobility-travel/
There are so many great ideas on how to make our world really wonderful. We just have to act on it and not block good change because we think that everyone has a right to a private car. I actually think that no one has this right in the first place because it is not feasible for all the people on the world and largely destructive. And the best thing is: They are not even needed. Exceptions might apply e.g. for handicapped people; but they usually share transportation in Germany anyways.
Of course, in the countryside different systems have to be figured out. However, as about 80% of people live in cities, a great change would happen if we started shifting city systems.
And in the end – as the title image shows – we just want to be together with people we like, wherever that is.
Do you like the idea of a green city of short ways? How can we support progressive mayors with their ambitions (in addition to electing them?