My research related thoughts at the moment are still flitting around the subject discussed in my last blog post and have yet to land, so I thought for this January blog post, I might turn to a tried and tested topic – New Year’s Resolutions.
Many people will have made some New Year’s Resolutions over the past couple weeks, and a fair few are likely to have transport implications. For example:
Reducing plastic became a hot button issue in 2018, as not just tree huggers, but even avowed materialist consumers considering trying to make a few changes. This could be great news for our global environment, but I suggest a moment of reflection before you resolve to shop plastic-free for your dry-goods, when the nearest such outlet is miles away. Scientists agree that global warming and climate change is an even bigger problem than plastic pollution in our oceans, and transport, mainly airplanes and private motor vehicles, is overtaking other sectors as the biggest carbon emitter on the planet. So think carefully about whether you can make a resolution that reduces both plastic and mileage, whether yours, the product’s or both.
Speaking of mileage, as mentioned, air transport remains a big problem in terms of carbon emissions, with no near-term technical solutions. But another thing people often do at the turn of the year is book their next overseas holiday. Some might resolve to travel more slowly or have a stay-cation, but for those who are unwilling or unable to give up flying, when was the last time you considered carbon offsetting? It’s rarely given as an option anymore when you purchase your flights because airlines and other commercial actors are doing it for you, but surely every extra contribution helps. Not sure where to give? Find out what the big players are doing. For example, I was fascinated to read that the UK’s busiest airport, Heathrow, is investing in restoring peat bogs, which are important ecosystems in some parts of the UK and excellent carbon sinks. Perhaps more could be restored with your charitable donations? There are plenty of websites which can help decide to whom and how much to give.
Perhaps though, you’ve gone for a more traditional resolution, say to exercise more. Then I would put in a plug for switching some of or part of your regular daily trips to active travel modes – walking, cycling, scooting. Even if it’s simply parking a bit further away from where you’re going or getting off the bus a stop or two earlier, you’re much more likely to maintain your resolve if exercise is part of your daily routine than if you take up a sport or try to force yourself to the gym on a dark, cold night after work. And you’re helping more than yourself. Getting out of the car for even part of your journey reduces local air pollution, injects more vitality into the local community, and sets a good example!
So my proposition to all New Year’s resolvers is to think about whether you can make your resolution go further, and contribute to a better transport future.
Merry moving and a Happy New Year!