Take a green vacation this weekend

by Sooke News Mirror

Gas prices got you down? This Labour Day, take a green vacation

Lately, my neighbour has done nothing but complain about high gas prices and how expensive it is to take the family anywhere this summer. His grumblings did get me thinking though: why not take the family on a green vacation?

“What’s a green vacation?” the kids ask, with a bit of eye rolling. “Well,” I said, “It’s a place where we can swim, bike, have picnics, and hang out with friends.” The kids seemed happy with that answer until I said it’s in our own backyard.

Maybe now is the time to tell them there’ll be no long drives, no squabbling in the back seat, the whole family will be doing things they want to do, plus we’d be learning how to do our part to reduce our impact on the environment.

Friday: We‘re up bright and early, carpooling with friends to a local pick-your-own farm. “I want blueberries,” hollers the youngest, “anything but beets,” pipes in another one. Well, I say, it’s August so we’ll be picking whatever is in season. Here, blueberries are available but that also means green beans, carrots, tomatoes, and yes, beets. Surprisingly, it doesn’t take much effort to fill our baskets, and of course we add some home-made jams, a pie and local cheeses. Then we’re off on a hay ride around the farm.

Saturday: Park day! We pack a picnic lunch with many of the foods we picked the day before. We bring salads, sandwiches and of course the pie. When the day starts to get hot we suggest going to our neighbourhood pool. The kids have a great time, as they run into friends and take turns showing off their moves.

Sunday: The kids have always had fun zipping around the neighbourhood on their bikes, but when it comes to weekdays, we all resort to the family car to run errands or get to school and work. Not today. We’re going to have fun on our bikes and run a few errands at the same time. We start by biking down the path in the ravine. It’s always more fun going downhill but at least we get a good workout on the way back up. After riding through the park in the centre of town, we decide to make one more stop. Back-to-school supplies.

Monday: All tired out from our outdoor adventures, it’s time to have a fun day at home. We invite a few friends over for fresh lemonade, cold salads, corn on the cob and dessert. Later on, we fill up the kiddie pool for some afternoon fun for the kids. When they’re done, we’ll get the kids to fill up the watering cans with the leftover water. Making a game out of taking care of the garden (and reusing water) is the best way to get them to help out.

By the time Tuesday rolls around, we know we’ve had a fun-filled weekend holiday and we have extra money left over for back-to-school clothes. Here is what we estimate we’ve saved in emissions from our close-to-home adventures:

• The average American road trip (round trip) is 840 km. If we assume our family travels in a mid-size car then we can estimate that staying close to home will prevent 151 kg of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from being emitted.

• Two days of not driving equals 9.86 kg of GHG per car per day. That would save — 20 kg (19.6) of GHG during the two days a family does no driving at all.

• One day of eating local food for a family of four equals 0.44 kg of GHGs saved.

• Eating vegetarian for one day saves about 4 kg of CO2 per person per day. For a group of eight you would be saving 32 kg of GHGs simply by not eating meat.

When you add it all up, our family saved over 203 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of taking one mid-size car off the road for 10 days or not driving 850 km.

Want to know what you would save?

Go to www.ecoactionteams.ca for more ideas on how you can lessen your impact on the environment and measure your savings potential on the fun and easy to use EcoAction calculator.

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