Happy Earth Month, friends. We have 20-something days of cringey corporate PR campaigns ahead of us, many countries are re-shutting down, and it feels like we're back on the struggle bus. But vaccines are rolling out and I'm optimistic that we're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
People are quite surprised when they find out our weekly changeletters... about sustainability... have never once covered transportation. Even though it's the biggest way to impact our individual carbon footprint.
Yeah, I tell them. It's on my list!
Here's the thing: I just don't think it's very useful to tell people to fly less or ride a bike more. You already know that. Plus, I feel hypocritical as a gas-car driver and a pre-COVID plane-traveler.
However, now that the pandemic is "ending" and people are driving and flying more, it's time we face the facts.
Many people have resorted to flight shaming, and I get it. Simply taking less flights is a HUGE way to reduce your carbon footprint. But also, the term "carbon footprint" was invented as a PR strategy by BP to deflect from their own corporate responsibility, so... instead of making you feel bad, I want to explore how we can solve this together, put pressure on who's really responsible, and be in it for the long term.
P.S. make sure you sign up for our Apri 28 5pm PST event, letter-writing to incarcerated people. Grab your spot by 4/14.
Transportation is an unwieldy sustainability topic because it spans so many challenges — jet fuel alone could be its own Changeletter topic but alas. I wanted to start us off with a broad understanding of how big the problem is.
Read the full 2019 article here from Yale Climate Connections - highlights are below as always.
There's a lottt more to cover within transportation: how COVID and public transit highlight racial inequities, how transportation is a public health issue, how building more bike lanes can actually increase biking (yay!), etc.
Sanya, my teammate who leads marketing for Soapbox Project (check out our Insta and say hi), just told our community that today, she starts her new job. She has to commute 60 miles round trip every day and there's no reliable public transit that can take her to and from work.
I used to think traffic was just this Magically Horrible Thing that happened, but it turns out, as with most things, we did this to ourselves. Today's LISTEN module explains how, in a 6-min video.
We have a transportation discussion thread going on in our community - come join the conversation and add pics of you riding your bike or taking the train (or being mad in traffic)!
Before we get started, I want to re- re- re- re-emphasize that fighting climate change depends on fighting for justice especially in light of Daunte Wright's death. He was a Black father shot by a police officer at a routine traffic stop — this is not separate from our topic of transportation. Everything is related, and I'm here to help you unpack the layers/find resources. We're in this together.
Wild things I learned from the vid:
Traffic sucks and it's really complex, but the video does a fantastic job at pinpointing the problems we create for ourselves. Check it out, and in our next module (ACT), we'll go over solutions you can get involved in.
Join the community discussion if you have any questions or want to share more about transportation in your area.
I'm ready to take a nap, treat my butt to Honeycomb Luxury, stare at a beautiful Earth Day print and listen to lo-fi (not all at once lol), but I gotta get you your action plan on transportation first. There's 124,847 things you could do to make transportation more equitable and clean, but I've picked 5 that are most relevant for the times we're in.
If there is ONE thing I hope you'll take away from our April transportation topic, it's that social, environmental, and economic issues are inextricably connected.
This short NPR article/clip (4-min listen) talks about the impact of Joe Biden's infrastructure plan on racist urban planning, which will set a standard for countries around the world.
I'll let you peruse it, but 3 highlights:
NPR says (and I agree) that it's a positive sign that the highest levels of leadership are examining highways' role in structural racism. There's SO much to learn on this topic but the NPR piece is a good, quick place to start. I also highly recommend the book The Color of Law.