Ok I know this one sounds a little strange, but since coming back from Australia my attitude towards walking has completely changed. Making a deliberate choice to factor more pedestrian time into our daily routines is a really great way to reduce our carbon footprint, whilst also having a load of personal benefits.
Now I live in London, so I’m not exactly driving round in a car all the time, I spend nearly all of my time on public transport or on foot as it is. But while we were in Australia our lack of vehicle, sometimes lack of public transport and abundance of good weather led us to a lot of walking, and the return to England really made me miss the pedestrian time that had become somewhat part of our routine. Though I scoff at tourists who are going to try and take the tube between Leicester Square and Covent Garden, I’ve also never specifically had a walk set as part of my routine in the UK.
I got back to the country in early December, and by the time it got to New Years I was missing my lack of on-foot time. I was home in the North, where all public transport stops at 6pm on New Year’s Eve, and I decided to walk the 2 miles to my friends party on the other side of the river, *gasp*. Partly this was because I wanted an hour to myself after being constantly surrounded by people for the holidays (introvert problems, am I right?), and partly it was because I really missed walking. Several people tried hard to offer me a ride, but I insisted I had chosen to walk and yes I did really want to.
So I set off, I walked my two miles armed with a good podcast, and gosh did I feel good after. Not only had I obviously not contributed to any carbon emissions, I’d had a lovely bit of exercise with minimal effort.
Now back in London, I’ve completely overhauled my routine. Obviously I kind of do exercise for a career in some ways, but sometimes I have a mountain of work to get through which doesn’t necessarily lend itself to the amount of supplementary training that I would like. I’ve committed myself to walking two – three miles most days: I have an artist studio space in East London which I walk to weekday mornings, and tube back from at night. On weekends I can walk into the centre of the city and tube or walk back, depending on the time. Not only am I getting tons of exercise, which I love, I’ve cut the amount I spend on transport and the amount of energy used to transport me in half. Instead of going to a gym, spending an hour in the gym and coming home, I utilise the same amount of time to get exercise, live a greener life, get me to the place I need to be and save money.
This seems so simple, I actually don’t understand how it didn’t occur to me before.
I’d always opt to walk when places were close together, but for some reason I didn’t connect the idea that anywhere is walkable in a big city, I just needed to change my attitude. As opposed to inconvenience, it’s a scheduled part of my exercise routine, and my body and the planet reap the rewards.
I know that not every place is pedestrian friendly, but imagine what could happen if we made being a pedestrian more of a priority? If you’re looking to get fit and also be a little greener, I suggest you have a think about some of the places you visit most often, and see if there’s a way to get there on foot (or by bike if that’s an option for you!). If your city really isn’t pedestrian friendly, why not contact your local representatives to talk about how that could change. The simple commitment to walking a little each day can have a big impact, if we commit together.
Until next time, stay magic y’all.