Finding ways to minimize our carbon emissions in our spare time activities was not easy. How could we possibly minimize our use of the car in getting around and minimize our use of electricity in our spare time? Are there any “big” changes we can make in how we use our spare time?
We determined that there aren’t any “big” changes – at least, not changes that will reduce emissions as much as eating no beef and eating meat fewer nights a week. Nonetheless, we did make some easy changes that will certainly help.
Carpooling: I planned ahead a few days w/our kids separate camping trips. For my daughter’s “Brownie” camping trip, I drove two other families in my mini-van. For my son’s Cub Scout trip to Gettysburg Pennsylvania (over 100 miles from home), my son and I rode with another family. Using fewer vehicles for the trip saved on emissions and the cost of gas, and honestly, it was much more enjoyable. It was nice chatting with the other families on the ride, and when I was the passenger, I even had time to catch up on reading.
Errands: Errands seem to be endless, but with a little advance planning, I was able to plan where to go, when, and in what order to accomplish errands with less driving. When my daughter is in gymnastics, I visit a department store for odds and ends, a bakery, pharmacy and grocery store, all within 3 miles of her gymnastics practice. This saves emissions, gas and time!
Use of electricity: Our family doesn’t watch TV on school nights and the children only use the computer for homework, which keeps our energy usage down. We have minimized TV on weekends to no more than 2 hours/day. Rather than watch TV, we ride bikes, read books, the children play w/their friends and play sports, we work on projects around the house and take walks in a nearby park. The kids have re-discovered some toys they hadn’t used in years.
When we want to watch a movie, rather than driving to a theater or movie rental store, we are taking more advantage of our digital video recorder (I love my TiVo!). Also, our cable TV provider offers movies on demand, at home, with no advance planning needed.
So, although not as many “big” changes on this challenge, we have started better habits that are reducing our CO2e. Every little step can help, especially these easy ones.
By Climate Pilot Kathy Harman-Stokes