Pathway of the Month:  Transportation

Oh, happy day, everyone!  This month we celebrate the Pathway to Sustainable Transportation.  September 21st was actually Zero Emissions Day!  We also celebrated World Car-free Day on September 22nd.

So what’s the deal with transportation and what exactly does sustainability have to do with it?  Well, consider this… Whether time seems to drag on by or flies waaaay too fast, the world is in constant motion.  Rapid motorization & urbanization have contributed to an increase in congestion, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, traffic accidents, and health & social problems.  As a matter of fact, NASA has found that motor vehicles are the greatest contributor to atmospheric warming.  As the extra particles (most namely, carbon dioxide) accumulate in the atmosphere, impacts in the surrounding area start to become visible.  Two major impacts include our human health and the economy.

Health is not necessarily a factor the average person may think of when it comes to talking about transportation, but it is truly an important one to consider.  According to Sustainable America, highly congested areas give witness to higher rates of asthma, allergies, heart and lung disease, and even cancer.  The risk of these incidences increase with young children, as well, since their smaller bodies consume more air per pound of body weight than an adult does.

Idling your car doesn’t just have dire implications for human health, though.  It also is having a profound impact on America’s pocket book.  Get this… Americans waste 3.8 million gallons of gas EVERY DAY just on idling their cars alone.  This equates to somewhere around $11 million dollars in wasted everyday!  That’s a lot of money and a lot of gas!

The good news is, though, that municipalities are slowly catching on & including public transit as a critical component in their city planning.  Cities like Los Angeles, New York, Portland, and Orlando are doing their part by demonstrating cleaner energy can be both reliable and affordable.  As only one example, all these cities are already or currently are transitioning their mass transit to using electric buses.  The thought process is that this move towards electric buses will not only save money, but also improve quality of life by improving public health.

There are, indeed, good things in the works for a better, healthier future.  YOU can make an even greater impact, though… at the micro-level… in your own community.  How, you ask?  It’s easy.  Just imagine the impact we could make if we just began within the community responsible for shaping our future leaders… our schools.  I mean let’s look at the ever dreaded PTSA topic of carlines—let the eye-rolling and moaning commence, right?  In what ways can your school community improve its student pick-up procedure?  We want to hear from you.  And so, Student Leaders, here’s your September “Operation: #viralSTEMchallenge”:

Challenge:  Create a program to get your school involved in zero emissions day. How can you get your school building as well as all the families who are part of it to reduce or eliminate their emissions that day? What ways can that be done and what incentives might help?

We want to hear about your projects, so please SHARE them with us on Instagram.  Use the hashtag #OperationZeroEmissionSchools and win a chance to have your school recognized nationally via a re-post on our Project Green Schools IG page, as well other recognition opportunities.

To give you some ideas and get the conversation started, check out some of these awesome initiatives in the realm of school sustainability:

  • The Walking School Bus: A “walking school bus” is a group of students walking to school with (maybe) 2 or 3 adults—one adult taking the lead and the other as caboose.  There are all kinds of variations, so can easily be adapted to your school’s needs.  An alternative to carpooling, this idea is especially helpful in neighborhoods with lots of children, as well as for those busy parents as you can take turns who walks with the kiddos on given days.
  • Pik My Kid: This is a relatively new app that schools can opt in for which increases car line efficiency both on the staffing side AND on the human health side.  Check out the link for how to save your mental and physical health!
  • Turn It Off: Take the pledge to turn off your car as you wait in line to pick up your student from school.  Sustainable America, who’s mission it is to create awareness for all things food and fuel, has a awareness campaign with materials that are ready to go to educate your community.