02 July, 2008

Rural living - not so green after all

Over in the States, Crunchy Chicken has got people thinking about transport today. Which got me thinking about how we manage now we've made the move from Hackney in London to the Brecon Beacons. The world looks a lot greener from my window but in fact rural life is not so green after all. There are pluses and minuses but in green terms one of the biggest changes since we moved is our use of our car.

We have almost always had a car although sometimes in London I wondered why. It would sit outside the house and not move for weeks at a time. We filled the tank up roughly every three months. Now we fill up every two weeks or so, more if we go further afield than the local area. I live just off a fast country road with lorries, cars and caravans doing 60 miles an hour. Annoyingly I also live only a mile outside town but there is no way I am cycling into town with my 3 year-old daughter on the back and juggernauts doing 60 next to me. And the pavement runs out just outside of town, a good half a mile from our house, so we can't walk either. Sorry but I'm not so green that I'll take my or my family's life into my hands.

It does however make you think about your choices, about why you live where you live. If I like I can try to make myself feel better by remembering that Tom now works from home so emits no carbon to get to work. But he used to cycle most of the time and otherwise took public transport, so he wasn't emitting much anyhow. We currently rent our house, and we love it. But it's just outside town, meaning now we are part of that whole school-run thing. Into town and back three times a day. For just over a mile each way, each time.

There are things we do to decrease our mileage and these days of high prices at the pump that's not just about feeling greenly pleased with yourself.

I get a veg box delivered on the day the veg man does our area, meaning he is minimising his mileage for the area, and my shopping mileage has gone down.

I get the supermarket to deliver and I stock up for weeks ahead when I do. I also make sure I click on their green van picture to minimize their mileage.

I combine my local shopping with collecting my daughter from playgroup. I'm lucky. My local small town has most of what I need day to day.

But I'm still left wondering what else we could do?

Get a different car? A hybrid or electric? If we got one of those small electric cars we'd have to keep the bigger one for our longer trips to relatives, on holiday etc. Whatever we got would have to be able to take four people, two with booster seats. I've looked at some of the options but this isn't simple.

Persuade Powys Council to extend the pavement to the bottom of our lane. Actually I like the idea of this. On the other side of town the pavement extends all the way to the next village with a cycle path and lots of people use it, to walk, to run, to cycle. On our side only the most dedicated cyclists use the road - you know the ones in very bright lurex. And frankly I could use the exercise. I used to walk everywhere and I miss it. There you go. I live in a beautiful part of the world - a National Park - and I spend my time in the bloody car.

Think I'll just go and draft a letter to Powys...

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