Friday, August 5, 2011

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Green

Is Living “Low Car” Possible in Chicago?




As you all might expect, I am a proponent of living a “green” lifestyle in as many ways as practically possible. Notice that I use the word “practically” in that last sentence. Living in the Chicago area and also being environmentally responsible with everything is often a challenge, and speaking of challenges, I have started a more “public” challenge than my usual refusal of juicy meats and Styrofoam.

I am one of the Chicago participants of the 2011 Zipcar Low Car Diet, a promotional thing by Zipcar that aims to encourage the participants to live a healthier lifestyle and drive as little as possible (and if you do drive, use a Zipcar of course). One of my “friends” asked me if this made me some sort of corporate shill, to which I responded: “Maybe?” Honestly, I think that the idea of car sharing is great, and I am not really taking sides in the local “Zipcar vs. I-go” debate, as I think they both have their places, and having options is usually a good thing. In fact, I already have an I-go Card (tied to my bus card), and now I have a Zipcar one as well!

The Low Car Diet (LCD) encourages its participants to use social media and technology to basically report on their comings and goings while using the hash tag #lowcardiet on twitter, along with making videos and possibly blogging about it if you feel like it (as B.A.F.F.L.E.D. can attest, I am not the most eager blogger). The LCD also wants its participants to really explore the city they are in, and have provided a little help with that in the form of month-long bus passes (big money saver!), gift certificates for all manner of places and items (exciting!), lots of popchips and Honestea (puzzling!), and a month long gym membership to equinox (terrifying!) and of course free Zipcar driving credits.

Although I was not a big driver, I have taken on the challenge, and am going more places and doing more things than usual, and I definitely think that if you happen to live in or very close to the city, you can do 90% of your commuting and urban adventuring without using an automobile. I must confess, I did use a Zipcar (a hybrid, although I was very tempted to use the BMW) to go to a family function in the suburbs, but that was mainly because I did not relish a 3-4 hour bike ride in 100 degree weather, and as an alleged “choco-person”, I did not want to tempt fate.

Excluding that happy episode, replete with horrible traffic, I have been walking, taking transit, or biking, and I must say that it is neither inconvenient nor arduous. I do live on the northside of the city in a quite accessible area, but I think that the transit network along with non-car supplementation is definitely possible for most people metropolitan areas along with increasing your fitness and keeping your carbon footprint low. If you are so inclined, you can keep up with my progress on the link I provided above, my ridiculous tweets (@squalllionh), or possibly on this site…that is if I am allowed to. And for those of you already with Zipcar, I will be all corporate shill-like and with you a “happy zipping”!   

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