This Sunday there will be rallies for action on climate change around the country, including in St. Louis at Kiener Plaza at 1pm. The rallies are focused on pressuring governments and the energy industry to make large-scale changes, which are absolutely necessary for a sustainable future. But local and individual cultural changes are necessary too. Large- and small-scale changes reinforce each other.
Yesterday I biked to work for the first time. I had never biked the 3.5 miles because of fears of traffic and showing up to work covered in sweat. Those were my excuses for 7 years! Then yesterday dawned cloudy and cool, and I pumped up my tires (low tires are no fun to bike on), put a rain jacket in my backpack just in case, and took off. . . . It was embarrassingly easy after all my excuses. I stayed on the sidewalk to avoid the traffic of a busy road (it’s legal to bike on the sidewalk in Missouri as long as you’re not in a business district; you need to give pedestrians right-of-way and generally not be a jerk), and shifted way down and took my time on the uphills. I got to work quickly and easily and was not a sweaty mess and actually felt more energized than usual.
This is not an exciting story, I realize. And that’s the point. The idea of biking to work seemed so difficult, with all sorts of problems and concerns that turned out to be no big deal once I just decided to do it. How many environmental lifestyle changes will turn out not to be as difficult as we think, if we just decide to care more for the environment than for our supposed conveniences?
(Addendum–Yes, it’s better to bike in the street than on the sidewalk, but it’s better to bike on the sidewalk than not at all!)