Monday, May 14, 2012

Is it worth it?

Adjusting to life in a big city has been interesting for this small town girl.  When I visited Europe, I was just that--a visitor.  I didn't have to worry about how to get to work on time, when and where to do my shopping, avoiding traffic times and how I feel about going to meet friends at night.  It's all a big, new adventure that has been another great experience to add on to my belt.

One thing I've really noticed is getting around.  We share one car, mostly because I'm terrified of driving here but also because it requires paying for a second car.  Cars just aren't something I like spending money on if I can get away with it.  And if I'm going to get one, it's going to be a good one so I don't have to deal with overwhelming maintenance fees.  I once had a car with an alternator that went out three times.  No thank you.

So I take the bus.  It's often late and takes planning.  It's also slow.  But I'm a fan of public transit because it saves gas and keeps cars off the road (and I don't have to think about driving).  It makes me put a price tag on what I'll be doing, too.  Is this really worth me paying $5 roundtrip?  

Applying a monetary value to trips has kept me from joining a gym, helps me multitask on necessary errands and generally just keeps me from making unnecessary trips.  If I'm going to meet a friend, that's always worth it because friend time can be a little lacking and I need to get out of the house more.  

It has me wondering, though.  How often do we place a value on our trips?  Long-distance trips are almost always placed with some sort of number.  We know it will take us this much gas for this many miles just because it takes so long to get there.  A plane ticket gives us a value for our travel, in time and in money.  These things are easy to measure.  But what about carbon emission value?  Is my errand, my trip, my work-out worth the damage to the environment?  I know I hardly ever think in these terms, because I really want to be doing whatever it is I'm planning on doing.  Many times we'll drive the half mile to the grocery store instead of taking the ten minutes to walk there.

It just has me thinking.  


  1. oh gosh, i'm exactly the same way! i know that even if the place i want to get to is just down the street, i always want to drive. why is that?
    xo TJ

  2. It's a really good thing to think about. My Jeep is currently sitting unused with a dead battery and some kind of transmission problem (ugh), and I'm in no rush to fix it. I love to drive, but it's so easy to forget that I love walking even more - it saves on money and carbon emissions, gives me time to listen to music or just think, and makes trips to various places more satisfying because it takes real effort. ^_^

  3. RE teenelizabeth: I so completely agree. I enjoy walking around, and the bus stop is a 15 minute walk away so even if I am taking the bus I get the chance to walk a while. Not having a car during the day makes me prioritize and it does make trips to run errands feel like a fun day trip :).

  4. RE TJ: It always seems silly, in hindsight, to find that you're more willing to spend gas to drive a short distance rather than walk 10 minutes for free. I think we've just become accustomed to driving everywhere and forget we have other options.


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