As the last of spring settles in, making way for summer, the Jefferson County community has come up with a way to start the season off strong: On June 1, several organizations are partnering …
As the last of spring settles in, making way for summer, the Jefferson County community has come up with a way to start the season off strong: On June 1, several organizations are partnering together, among them the Port Townsend High School environmental club Students for Sustainability (SFS), to set into motion Car-Free Day.
This is not the first time SFS has organized a Car-Free Day; three years ago, the club successfully brought the event to Jefferson County.
Car-Free Day is designed to be open-ended so that all can participate through carpooling, taking advantage of public transportation, and walking, biking, running, or even skipping to school, work, or other engagements. The goal is to reduce your driving that day, even if you can’t go totally car-free (such as driving to a park-and-ride).
Recent statistics from the City/County Climate Action Committee (CAC) reveal that transportation emissions are 66 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions in our community. Especially when many residents of Port Townsend are fortunate enough to have the option to walk, bike, or take the bus anywhere in town, from Fort Worden to Safeway, Car-Free Day is meant to inspire them to gradually switch over to a less fuel-dependent lifestyle.
For those living outside of town, other plausible options include carpooling, taking transit, or switching over to a virtual platform for some activities that one could work on from home.
As further incentive, everyone who participates in Car-Free Day on June 1 and then completes a registration form, will be entered into a raffle from which prizes will be drawn. Several local businesses were generous enough to donate substantial prizes, from gift cards and goodie baskets to more thematic rewards, such as a free bicycle tune-up.
In addition, the same form will collect information on what medium(s) of car-free transportation participants chose, and how many miles they saved. Giving feedback to those organizing Car-Free day will help the organizers gauge the success of the event, calculate the reduction in emissions, and provide data for future opportunities to reduce our community’s emissions.
Truly, there is no risk associated with Car-Free Day, or reason not to support the larger movement behind the event.
It is a win-win situation: Teens, adults, and seniors alike are making a shift toward being not only conscious of, but more conservative about the amount of fossil fuels they burn on a daily basis. Furthermore, there is a sense of solidarity present as participants are surrounded by others who have the same intentions.
Finally, changing one’s lifestyle by walking or biking to work on a nice day, as opposed to driving, keeps things interesting. Change is good. Repetition with variation prevents one’s routine from becoming monotonous and mundane.
You’ll never know what kind of conversation you might strike up with the person sitting next to you on the bus until you try the experience out for yourself, or what other benefits you might find in biking to school. And who knows — you might find a riveting new pastime (or a bus buddy!) while practicing sustainable living. Learn more at l2020.org/carfreeday.
(Julia Neville is a senior at Port Townsend High School, and has been a member of Students for Sustainability since her freshman year. She is also an avid writer, and loves to take advantage of opportunities to get her writing out in the community; Julia has an ongoing internship with Strait Up Magazine and loves the journalism process.)