Take a Hike
Another friend of mine noted to me that nobody in this country walks anywhere. Even a quarter mile from the office to lunch, or whatever, people are just jumping in their cars.
Well, driving is such a huge component of the climate change problem that if you care about it at all you owe it to yourself to at least think about the alternatives. I've already talked about several other things you can do to help address global warming (don't buy carbon offsets, do compost, do buy local). But one of the simplest things you can do is get out of your car occasionally and use your own two feet to get somewhere.
Now, I'm not telling you to get rid of your car or fundamentally change your lifestyle. Having the ability to jump in your car any time and go anywhere has become a core part of our society. I don't want to take away one of your options. I want to give you a new one.
That's right, I just want you to realize that sometimes walking to where you are going is actually a better option. And that doesn't even count the fact that it is better for the environment, better for your health, and better for your sanity.
For example, my friend who pointed out to me that nobody walks told me that people in his office walk to lunch, even if the restaurant is only a quarter mile away. I have to admit this is also pretty much true at my office (except when people go to the deli in the same building).
Here's my suggestion. Find a restaurant you like that is a quarter to a half mile from your office. Just walk there one day. You'll feel like people are staring at you from their cars, but no matter this is just an experiment. Pick up the pace a bit. When you get to the restaurant, your heart rate may be up. Your metabolism will be revved. Have a nice lunch. Then walk back.
How was that? Not only did you get to spend 10-15 minutes outside in the middle of the day, you also burned 80 calories of your lunch and added to your energy level for the rest of the afternoon. Plus, when you exercise your metabolism increases for 30 minutes after you stop, so you continue burning calories.
Ok, then next week do the same thing, but invite one or more of your coworkers. That's right, I'm going to suggest making this a weekly outing. If you want to talk business, or if you want to just goof around, feel free. I guarantee, your interactions with your coworkers will be ten times better than if you were sitting in a car together. You're building teamwork. I'll bet that more people will want to join you as the weeks go by. And what did it cost? Ten minutes one time per week.
Can't afford ten minutes? Find a restaurant that lets you call or fax your order in ahead of time and have it waiting for you when you get there. Or be bold and actually schedule a meeting during lunch time and hold the meeting while you are walking.
Here's another example. Many parents drive their kids to school every day. They say it's just not safe to let their kids walk or bike alone. Well, how about walking with your kids one day a week? Make it fun. Or you walk and let your kid ride her bike. Get other parents in your neighborhood to join along. Spend a little research time up front and find the safest, most interesting route to school. Be creative. Find more than one route and let your kid pick. Create games or races. If you don't have time one week, I'll bet one of the other parents in your neighborhood does. And as your kids get older, maybe they can walk or bike with the group of other kids. Remember, this is not just transportation, it is also fun/play time. You get more fun time with your kids and they spend less time sitting and more time active.
Here's another idea, and it's one of my pet peeves. So many people drive to the gym to work out. And yet, if you walk or jog or bike to the gym you could spend so much less time there waiting for equipment, and more time outside, interacting with the world.
Suppose you live (or work) a mile from your gym. Try this experiment. Get your workout stuff together (backpack is best, but a regular gym bag is ok too). Even better, wear your workout clothes so you don't have to change when you get there. Then start walking, easy at first. Walk five minutes easy. Then pick up the pace for a minute and then walk easy again for two. Alternate one minute fast two easy until you get to the gym. Take a drink of water, get through the locker room as fast as you can, and get right into your workout. That's right, skip the warm-up, you just did it. When you're done, grab your gym bag and walk easy home. That's your cool down. Shower when you get home. So, you spent an extra 20 minutes walking rather than driving. But you also got to skip your warm-up and cool-down, so it didn't cost you even one extra minute. Plus, you got to do part of your workout outside, instead of on a boring machine.
See how easy it is to make walking into a positive option? And I didn't even have to bring up global warming to convince you. (Of course, I won't deny that's really my motive.)