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Do One Green Thing: Transportation

This is the fifth in a series of posts about how to green your life, step by step. Instead of burning out on fossil fuels, Will advises taking it easy on yourself and the planet.

Like the final chapter of Mindy Pennybacker’s book Do One Green Thing, my final entry of this blog series is about transportation, which is responsible for 28 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. This is by far the hardest area to tackle when going green. Technology and demand are helping to drive energy alternatives, but at the moment, for an average Joe like myself, it is tough to replace oil.

For an individual, breaking the addiction to fossil fuels can be overwhelming if you try to do it all at once. However, as I have learned from Do One Green Thing, change is possible, but easiest—and most sustainable— in moderation.

Here are some simple steps:

*Did you know that not driving one day a week can reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by about 400 pounds a year?


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John Francis at TEDxOilSpill: Listen, Then Act

Like many of the messages at Monday's TEDxOilSpill conference, John Francis’s was one of hope. Francis, who hasn't used a motorized vehicle since the 1970s and undertook a 17-year vow of silence, gave one of the funniest and most moving talks of the day, underscoring the crucial role that listening plays in activism.

In the early 1970s, Francis stopped riding in vehicles after witnessing an oil spill in San Francisco Bay. He later decided to take a vow of silence, initially for just one day, "because," he said, "I was talking too much." It was more than 6,000 days later before he spoke again. During that time he went on a pilgrimage by foot across America on behalf of the environment and world peace.

Francis finally spoke at the Washington, DC celebration of the 20th anniversary of Earth Day in 1990 to “speak for the environment” and to thank the audience for their participation at the event. 

At Monday's conference, he urged the audience to not just listen, but act. “We’re going to have to do something," he said. "This is our moment. We are going to have to change our lives. I’m inviting us to change our lifestyle. We have such responsibility and such power that we can really make a big difference.”

Here's a short video I took of Francis (he played banjo briefly before he spoke), and to learn more, you can watch his full TED talk from 2008.

John Francis at TEDxOilSpill from Oceana on Vimeo.


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