This is my 4th year taking part in the Earth Hour, a global event aimed at raising awareness about sustainability issues.  This year, I have decided to write a daily post during the month leading to the event in order to share some thoughts about the environment and give tips the little changes we can make in our daily lives.  There will also be some guest posts by fellow bloggers who will share their own views on a topic related to the environment.  You can read my introductory post here and access the Earth Hour website here.

I encourage you to comment and share your own tips, ideas and experience.  In the last couple of days before the event I will do a few posts about what readers had to say.  I believe we can learn a lot by sharing!

Like many people concerned with the environment, I would like to use my car less.  I’m ashamed to say I fail at this. 

First of all, I live in the countryside and without my car, I would not be able to get anywhere.  There are very few buses (5 everyday) going through the village and they don’t necessarily go where I need to go or at the time I need to go.  At some stage, I considered taking the commuter train from the town closest to where I live into the city, but it is such a trek that I quickly gave up.  I think the time to get to the university from my house would have been multiplied by two.

This brings me to my second point: public transportation.  The way they are organised in Ireland is a disaster and I think something should really be done to encourage people to use them.  First of all, buses should be more frequent and on time.  Secondly, there should be some free car parks on the outskirts of the city (instead of building them in the city centre) and reliable transportation to bring you into the city centre.  Bus lanes should be developed, as well as tram lines or metros.

The city where I was born and grew up, Nantes, has a fantastic system of public transportation.  Many places in the city centre are pedestrian, but the city is well-deserved by trams and buses, and they have built free car parks on each of the trams’ final stops.  They have made it difficult for cars to access the city centre and have thus encouraged people to use public transports.  Apparently, they even have a mini-ferry going across the river now, as well as many bike points where you can rent a bike at an affordable fee.  This is the other thing in Ireland: public transports are really dear.  I can’t blame people for not using them, even in the city centre.  I have tried when living in Waterford, but it was just not practical nor reliable.  I really hope to see new developments in the future.

Yet, there is still one thing people could do to make a difference, however small it is: walking or cycling when going to the shop at the end of the street.  People have become so used to their cars that they are not even willing to walk a short distance.  It might take a little longer, but it is beneficial, not only for the environment, but also for your mental health (exercising half an hour a day and being outside is one of the best way to fight against depression, for instance).  Again, this is so linked to the pace at which our society is going that we are forgetting to slow down a little and are not giving ourselves the opportunity to take a little break from the daily rush.