Friday, June 18, 2010

Driving me nuts: My daily routine

Here is my confession: For someone who purports to live a green life, my days are ruled by my car.

It's a reality of mine since a lifetime ago when I was a green reporter. I live in a car.

And while it's grown up (and out) from my old Honda Accord to an efficient Toyota Echo (so small you couldn't fit an infant carseat in backwards!) to a mom-like Sienna minivan, one thing has stayed the same: my car rules my life.

It's my storage, I'm ashamed to admit. My scrap pile for receipts. My recycle bin of old Diet Coke cans. And a place I spend too many hours in my day.

Four years ago, we made a family decision to change that. We sold our home and moved 30 miles away to a place closer to both of our jobs. Now, instead of 75 minute commutes each day, I sigh about managing the kids all the way to the other side of town for the occasional errand.

But I'm still ruled by the car.

My commute has shortened, but the daily drive isn't the only trek I make. The realities of my job, being off-site from the other main locations, means that my productivity is eaten by drives to meetings, sometimes as many as four or five a day. Now while I don't mind the quiet, the lack of calls, the interruptions, and I appreciate the thoughtfulness of discussions on NPR, the driving gets a bit old.

And then, I've just made matters worse in recent weeks. Two decisions meant I'm logging more miles than ever.

First, we opted to send our daughter to private school for all-day kindergarten this fall. It means daily driving and picking her up from school. Not that I mind - we had preferred to send her there if we could find the means, and the scholarship she received means the cost will be lunch and transportation over what we were paying for her daycare.

Second, we made the tough decision to leave a daycare we'd used since my daughter was 2. A number of factors went into the call, but we've been testing a provider this summer that my son took to right away. So while we're adding on yet again a few more minutes to our drive, he feels loved. And is happy. And that's what matters.

This is part of the Green Moms Carnival on daily routines. Read what other Green Phone Boother's days are like later today.


Anonymous said...

My car driving is one of my biggest green sins, for sure. Where I live in the suburbs, and with two little kids to haul around, I don't see a lot of good alternatives. Maybe it means we should move. Or maybe it means I should find a way to drive less. Either way, it's an issue of mine for sure.

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

My city is a driving city. Our bus system exists in name only and biking is sometimes taking your life in your hands. I think if you can do really well in other areas of your life, then driving and taking care of your vehicle balances it out.

Lisa said...

While I don't drive (honestly more for health reasons than green) my husband drives about 30 minutes away to work and we drive more than we likely should. This town is not great for walking and where we live I would have to walk in some not nice parts of town to get to places.

This is off topic but my FIL has an Echo. I hate that car lol.

Robbie said...

Amber, I hear you. It's tough to tote around two kids under any circumstances!

CB, that's a good way to look at things. Yes, I'm in a driving city, but at least things are relatively close.

Lisa, we used to be in the same boat - easily driving 30-40 miles each way to work, and we didn't blink about it, because that was the way it is in KC. Where we live now, though, it feels more congested, and I'm getting to the point I'd rather spend less time in the car.

Yes, the Echo took some getting used to. But it's served us well!