Hello there, and welcome to another pledge in MNN's Nest, an interactive program that helps you create and accomplish easy and Earth-friendly personal goals. With each goal that you tackle, you earn points that are then turned into donations to your favorite nonprofit eco-charity.
This personal pledge may be a bit difficult to grasp in our fast-paced, car-centric culture, but we at MNN encourage you to walk one place instead of driving at least once a week. Here's why:
If not for the environment, do it for the exercise: There's nothing quite as enjoyable as a long, zesty walk. Whatever your destination (and you don't even really need one) walking provides a bit of (gasp) fresh air and exercise. If you drive to the gym on a daily basis to walk on a treadmill for 40 minutes while simultaneously watching "The Bachelor," why not just take a brisk evening constitutional and TiVo your favorite trash TV instead? Or better yet, why not try hoofing it to the gym? The health benefits of a simple 30-minute walk are numerous and can help you manage your weight, control blood pressure, keep bad cholesterol in check whole boosting good cholesterol, and maintain a healthy heart. Plus, nothing clears a stressed-out, overwhelmed noggin better than strapping on tennis shoes and heading outside for a stroll. One of our favorite benefits of walking for exercise is that we notice things both inspiring — like a particularly stunning sunset — and odd — like the lady down the street's latest yard display of ceramic frogs and leprechauns — that we usually don't see while zipping around in a car at 30 miles per hour. And if you tend to get bored or restless while walking, invite a friend or a family member along to chat with, make use of that iPod or take a camera along to document the things you see along your stroll.
Oh the places you’ll go: The first place you might be inclined to walk to is your home away from home: work. Due in part to suburban sprawl and other factors, trading in wheels for walking shoes for your daily commute may be a bit much to ask. We understand. However, unless you really live in the sticks, there are plenty of other places to walk to instead of the office. Some ideas: the post office, the supermarket, the movies, school, a local restaurant you've always wanted to try out, the yoga studio, the hardware store, the gym (again), a friend's house, a park, and the list goes on and on. Just remember if you anticipate partaking in a little retail therapy along or at the end of your journey, take a reusable shopping bag with you so you aren't stuck with a plastic one.
Keeping carbon emissions and cash in check: Twenty percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. come from propelling ourselves around in cars with each gallon of gasoline we burn releasing 20 pounds of carbon. According to the Worldwatch Institute, ditching the car and making a four-mile round-trip journey by foot will keep 15 pounds of harmful pollutants like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides out of atmosphere. Do this once a week and you'll prevent the emission of nearly 800 pounds of health-compromising toxins. Walk eight miles a week in place of driving and you'll knock around 1,600 pounds of pollutants off of your environmental footprint ... not too shabby. Plus, as you've probably noticed, fillin' up isn't exactly cheap these days. Save a few bucks (and perhaps buy yourself a pair of snazzy new sneakers) by walking a couple of miles instead of driving.
Ready to get fit, prevent hundreds of pounds of pollutants from entering the air and keep some precious green in your wallet? Then repeat after me: At least once a week this year, I'll walk one place instead of drive. Now put this pledge into action!
Harvard University, "Commuter Choice Program: Environmental Benefits"
Fueleconomy.gov, "How can 6 pounds of gasoline produce 20 pounds of carbon dioxide?"
People's World, "A gallon of gas makes 20 pounds of CO2"
The Department of Cambridge, Mass., "The Health Benefits of Walking"
More personal pledges to consider:
- I will make my home more energy-efficient.
- I will actually use my reusable bags.
- I will get my kids (and myself!) outside more this year.
- I will do a toxin audit of my home.
- I will support my town's local and green businesses this year.
- I will eat more meals at home.
- I will read three environmentally themed books this year.
- Instead of throwing them away, I will recycle my old electronics before buying new ones.