By Melissa Colleary
Sept. 22 was the second annual “Car Free Day,” a day where students and faculty were urged to carpool and use less car fuel. While at first glance it seems like a great concept, I don’t think that it is the most effective tool in the fight against climate change because I don’t believe people are using their resources in the best way possible.
With all of this talk about climate change and pollution, one would think that we would start to make changes in the way we live
our lives to reduce our impact on the world. While the “Car Free Day” seems like a great idea, it seems to be a bit farfetched. The sponsors want us to fill out a form as a pledge to ditch our cars for the day, but that isn’t going to accomplish anything. It makes it too easy for us to cry “environmentalist” without making much change. It might encourage us to go without our cars for the day, but what happens after the day
is over? We all go right back to the way things were, without any real impact.
Change is necessary, but it isn’t feasible with the way things
are right now. Public transportation takes far too much time out of our already busy schedules to be used on a steady basis. It seems that we are already too far gone for a “Car Free Day” to be the force behind any kind of environmental change.
Sarah Pomerenke, a senior International Studies and Geology major from the Sustainability Committee said, “You would have to re-do the entire infrastructure to get more trains and better train systems, to get people to want to use them. If people don’t want to use public transportation because it’s difficult and time consuming, it’s hard to expect them to stop driving to take trains and buses.”
Personally, it would take a lot for me to give up the use of my car. I love the convenience of being able to go where I want, when I want. I like having privacy on my commute, rather than being surrounded by cranky strangers who all seem to be in a rush, and I’ve never felt overly safe on a bike. While I definitely understand the negative impacts that it has on the environment, like many people, I choose to ignore them out of convenience.
I think the major problem with the “Car Free Day” is in its title. It is a car free day. I don’t think that all efforts to reduce pollution should be centered on a single day and then be forgotten. The sponsors should be pushing for legislation for better transportation and raising awareness for the negative impacts that cars have year-round, because that’s what it’s going to take to make any kind of real change.
I’m all for saving the planet, but I think that we really need to take a step back and see if what we’re doing is effective. Right now, I don’t think it is.