Reducing unnecessary travel is something we should all be aiming for, be it in the form of using public transport more often, relying less on our cars, or taking to pedal power or walking. Setting a good example to our children by examining how we could reduce the amount of fossil-fuel heavy travel we do will put them in good stead for adopting greener habits themselves – as well as keeping them fitter and healthier.
Getting Children Interested – and Involved
Nowadays, children are used to getting in the car for even the shortest of journeys. Parental anxiety, perceived (and real) threats to our children’s safety, and just the general logistics of modern day life, means we often do not think twice about using the car for trips that could be easily walked or cycled. So how do we break the habit and encourage our children to do the same?
What is Unnecessary Travel?
People’s views about what is deemed necessary and unnecessary will of course differ. Involve your children in a discussion about travel, and what they feel is essential in terms of car or even plane usage. What alternatives can they think of for the scenarios they come up with – and is it really a viable, eco friendly option. For example, flying to Spain for a holiday could be considered unnecessary in terms of our carbon footprints, but are the alternatives – cruising or driving – any better for the planet?
What alternatives to using the car can you children think of for the following?
- Travelling to school
- Doing the weekly shop
- Going on day trips
- Going on holiday
What are the Alternatives?
Cycling, using public transport, opting for mail order deliveries and shopping locally are all viable alternatives to driving. Day trips and days out do not mean lots of travel either – what events, places of interest and visitor centres can your children find in your local area, or on your nearest bus or train route?
And when you Just Have to do it…
There will always be occasions when, despite all good intentions, it becomes necessary to use the car for a local trip, or for a journey that could be done by more eco friendly means. How could you offset this usage, though? Are there ways to redeem yourself when you have used the car for that sneaky trip to the all night garage, or on the school run because you’ve overslept? Set your kids the task of coming up with ways to use the car responsibly to help reduce carbon monoxide emissions.
Some examples could be:
- Car Sharing Can you offer anyone else a lift to your destination? Is anyone else doing exactly the same journey in their car at the same time? Does your school have a car share register for interested parents and children?
- Use the School Bus One bus full of children doing the journey is far better for the environment than fifty or so cars with just one parent and child in! If your school does not operate a school bus service already, could you help implement one?
- Lighten your Load Do you use your car as a spare room? Do you have a roof box or roof rack? Unload your car to make it lighter and more fuel-efficient – don’t use it as a general store for all that junk you can’t be bothered to take out of the boot! And make sure roof boxes and racks don’t stay on full time, either!
Remember, making small changes bit by bit will make all the difference to your eco-friendly travelling long term!