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Are Bike Share Programs Earth Friendly?

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Bike sharing by Kevin Zolkiewicz via Flickr

Bike sharing programs have cropped up all over Europe and the United States, especially in major metropolitan areas. Both tourists and members of the local workforce have benefited from the presence of these new programs – but there are a few hidden costs that potential users should know about before they buy in.

Breaking Down the Maths

The idea is the more people who hop on a bicycle – such as one of NYC’s bright blue CitiBikes – the less use they’ll have for cars. But the numbers are a little more complicated. How much carbon dioxide does bike sharing keep out of the atmosphere overall?

It’s hard to measure, especially in a city like New York, where most residents rely on the local public transit system. If bike sharing leads to more people using mass transit and then renting a bike to get to and from work, instead of driving a car, that’s a definite benefit – but it’s virtually impossible to define a concrete metric.

Furthermore, these numbers differ across cities, depending on how many residents already forgo car travel. In London, for example, the local bike share program has actually increased the number of automobile miles driven per year. Partly to blame may be the fact that large trucks are required to transport bikes between docking stations.

London seems to be an outlier, however. Minnesota, Washington DC, and Melbourne all saw significant car travel reduction with their bike share programs – and unlike London, the added miles for fleet rebalancing and support didn’t make up for it.

Pros and Cons of Bike Shares

Bike shares are becoming more and more mainstream, but depending on where you live and your transit needs, a bike share program might not be right for you. Consider the pros and cons as you decide whether to participate

– This could be a pro or a con, depending on how much you want (or don’t want) to stand out from the crowd. Owning a bike outright means you have the option to customize it with great gifts and products – which won’t work if you’re using a branded urban bike.

– Depending on how much mileage you put in and how much time you spend cycling in any given day, owning your own bike might be more affordable – even with the maintenance involved. Most bike share programs charge by the hour or half hour, so if you need your rental for a longer period of time, the cost can spike rapidly.

– Owning a bike requires a fair bit of elbow grease in order to keep it running in tiptop shape. On the other hand, a bike share bicycle won’t require any maintenance on your part. If you notice an issue, all you need to do is alert the company, and they’ll take care of it.

– Bike share bicycles are built for city safety, with wide tires and a sturdy frame that will help you brave even the worst street conditions. Additionally, bike share programs take the responsibility of securing your bike out of your hands. As long as you dock it properly in its high-security station, you won’t have to worry about theft. With your own bike, even the highest security locks aren’t infallible.

Final Thoughts: Changing Norms

Whether or not bike sharing is for you, one thing is for certain: these programs are fantastic for garnering support for cyclists everywhere. As more and more people use cycling as their way to get from point A to point B, cycling infrastructure such as bike lanes and clearer traffic rules will gain footing. Ultimately, this will lead to more people getting out of their cars and hitting the streets on two wheels.

 

Environment

Want to Connect With Nature? Start by Disconnecting From Busyness

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Connect With Nature

Have you ever found yourself staring at one of your (many) devices and feeling slightly disgusted with how much time you waste on technology? If so, you aren’t alone. We all have moments like these and it’s important that we use them as motivation to change – especially if we want to be more connected with nature.

How Busyness Impacts Your Connection With Nature

Whether you realize it or not, you live an ultra connected life. Between smart phones, tablets, computers, and wearable devices, you’re never very far from some sort of technology that can connect you to the internet or put you in touch with other people. That’s just the world we live in.

While it could be argued that this sort of omnipresent connectivity is a positive thing, it’s also pretty clear that being permanently tethered to technology impacts our ability to strip away distractions and connect with nature.

When you’re always within arm’s reach of a device, you feel a sense of busyness.  Whether it’s browsing your social media feed, uploading a picture, reading the news, or responding to an email, there’s always something to do. As someone who wants to spend more time in nature, this is problematic.

4 Practical Ways to Disconnect

If you want to truly connect with nature and live a greener lifestyle, you have to be proactive about finding ways to disconnect. Here are a few practical suggestions:

1. Switch to a New Phone Plan

It’s not always practical to totally unplug from the world. Family and work responsibilities mean you can’t go off the grid and continue to fulfill your responsibilities. Having said that, there are some ways to scale back.

One suggestion is to switch to a prepaid phone plan. When you have a prepaid phone plan, you’re far less likely to spend hours and hours of your time making phone calls, sending texts, and surfing the web. It forces you to be more conscious of what you’re doing.

2. Get Rid of Social Media

Social media is one of the biggest time wasters for most people. Whether you realize it or not, it’s also a huge stressor. You’re constantly being exposed to the best snapshots of everyone else’s lives, which makes you feel like you’re missing out on something (even when you aren’t).

If you want to feel a sense of relief and free yourself up to spend more time in nature, get rid of social media. Don’t just delete the apps off your phone – actually disable your accounts. It’s a bold, yet necessary step.

3. Create Quiet Hours

If you aren’t able to get rid of social media and disable various online accounts, the next best thing you can do is establish quiet hours each day where you totally detach from technology. You should do this for a minimum of three hours per day for best results.

4. Build Community

Do you know why we’re drawn to social media and our devices? Whether consciously or subconsciously, it’s because we all want to be connected to other people. But do you know what’s better than connecting with people online? Connecting with them in person.

As you build real life, person-to-person relationships, you’ll feel less of a need to constantly have your eyes glued to a screen. Connect with other people who have an appreciation for nature and bond over your mutual interests.

Untether Your Life

If you find yourself constantly connected to a device, then this is probably a clear indicator that you aren’t living your best life. You certainly aren’t enjoying any sort of meaningful connection with nature. Now’s as good a time as any to untether your life and explore what a world free from cords, screens, and batteries is really like.

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Environment

6 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Move

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Moving can be a stressful and challenging time. No matter how many times you’ve done it in the past, the process of packing up, transporting, and unpacking isn’t very fun. It’s also not very eco-friendly. As you prepare for your next move, there are things you can do to ensure you leave less of a footprint behind.

6 Tips for a Greener Move

Because of the stress and pressure felt when moving, it’s pretty common for people to rush through the process and focus on getting it done. In fact, a lot of people take an “at all costs” approach; they’ll do whatever it takes to make the process as cheap and fast as possible. Don’t be one of those people. It doesn’t take much effort to turn a standard move into an eco-friendly move.

1. Maximize Each Trip

When moving across town, it’s imperative that you make as few trips as possible. Each trip requires more gas, more emissions, and more waste, and more time.

If you’re taking your personal vehicle, consider pulling a trailer behind it. You’d be surprised how much stuff you can fit into a small trailer. Not only will it make your move greener, but it’ll also save you a lot of time.

2. Donate Things You Don’t Want to Keep

The longer you live somewhere, the more junk you accumulate. This isn’t always obvious until you start packing for a big move. Instead of bringing all of these things with you to your next home, get rid of the stuff you don’t need! If the items are useful, donate them. If the items don’t have much value, toss them.

3. Reuse Moving Boxes

Not only are moving boxes expensive, but they’re also wasteful. If you need a bunch of cardboard boxes, consider looking around on Craigslist, asking friends, or checking the dumpsters behind stores. You can usually find a bunch of recycled boxes of all different shapes and sizes. Here are 12 places you can get them for free.

4. Get Creative With Packing

Who says you need moving boxes? You may find that it’s possible to do most of your move without all that cardboard. Things like storage containers, trashcans, filing cabinets, buckets, and dressers can all store items. Blankets and sheets can be used in lieu of bubble wrap to prevent your items from getting damaged.

5. Use Green Cleaning Supplies

Once you arrive at your new place, resist the urge to pull out a bunch of harsh chemicals to clean the place. You can do yourself (and the planet) a favor by using green cleaning supplies instead. Ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and ammonia are great to start with.

6. Forward Your Mail ASAP

Don’t delay in forwarding your mail from your previous address to your new one. Not only is it wasteful for the Postal Service to route your mail to a place where you don’t live, but the next owner is probably just going to toss your letters in the trash.

Moving Doesn’t Have to be Wasteful

Most people only move once every few years. Some people will go a decade or more without a move. As a result, the process of moving often feels strange and new. The less experience you have with it, the less likely it is that you’ll be as efficient as you should. But instead of just diving into the process blind, take some time to learn about what an eco-friendly move looks like. That way, you can leave behind the smallest footprint possible.

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