Zero Waste Challenge #21: Bike, Walk, or Bus

I would love to bike, walk, or bus everywhere. When I lived in Cape Town, I used to do a lot more of this than I do now. It’s a much more pedestrian- and bike-friendly city and I found the public transport much easier and more accessible.

Jo’burg is huge and spread out. It often makes me think of that line in Clueless when Cher’s father says, “everywhere in LA takes 20 minutes”. Jo’burg feels the same to me; even if you just want to go for a leisurely walk, there’s a good chance you have to drive to a spot to do it.

When talking about transport and cutting emissions, we can’t leave aviation out of the discussion as it also contributes to global greenhouse gas emissions. Of course, right now we’re not flying as much, with a pandemic running rampant.

It’s also a different story on board. Airlines (at least the ones I flew with in the past year, with the exception of one) are not supplying food or drinks (except water) to minimise contact between passengers and flight attendants. This must be cutting down significantly on airline waste, especially when you think of all the individually-wrapped, single-use items they used to serve.

It’s a tricky road to navigate (if you’ll forgive the heavy-handed pun). Public transport is not always accessible or safe and walking is not always feasible. Working from home has helped us tackle this problem to a degree, as many who would spend hours on the road every day are now cutting down on emission-spewing trips driving in traffic and between cities.

This post hasn’t really added any tips or tricks, so let me end with a suggestion or two. When it comes to flying, choose alternative forms of transport where possible (road trip!). If you have to take a flight, bring your own beverages in a reusable bottle and avoid excess baggage. As for the food, rather eat it, because if you don’t, there’s a good chance it’ll get chucked out anyway.

As for driving: try not to pop out for milk and eggs; rather do a comprehensive grocery haul once a week, to save unnecessary trips. Check the tyre pressure on your car regularly, as this saves fuel and reduces emissions. Don’t let your car idle and don’t use the air-con unnecessarily. And if a place is within safe walking distance, get off your lazy ass and walk.

Read more about the Earth Hero Zero Waste Challenge here.

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