bike

A Green Summer

summer

Summer has always been my favorite season.  Not only is my birthday in the summer, but summer meant no school, the beach, and hanging out with friends.  Summer is also a great time to go green.  Here are a few tips to make your summer vacation green!

Look up your nearest farmers market and try out some local food, meet new people, and find some pretty neat things. 

  1. Ride your bike!  The weather is too nice to be stuck inside a stuffy car.
  2. Have a picnic with your friends.  Make sure to throw away or recycle all your trash.
  3. Stay local – I am sure there are many fun activities around your town that will result in a low environmental impact.  Go to the zoo, check out the beach, or visit a park!
  4. Conserve water.  Who cares if your grass isn’t the greenest on the block, at least you are saving water.
  5. Get outdoors!  The summer is no time for video and computer games.  Grab friends to play a pickup basketball or soccer game!

 What other green activities do you have planned for the summer?  Don’t forget to put on the SPF!

Kelly Siegel is a student volunteer in the EPA’s Air and Radiation Division in Region 5, and is currently obtaining her Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She has a passion for sustainable development, running, and traveling with friends.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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The Places You’ll Go, the Things You’ll See

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Bike-HeaderBy Darren Buck

I have never considered myself very “green.” Sure, I ride a bicycle to work every day. In doing so, I avoid emitting well over a ton of CO2 into the atmosphere per year than I would if I drove to work instead, which is nice. But before I began riding regularly, any concern that I had for the environment was rather vague. I started riding primarily to avoid the nearly $10,000 a year needed to own and operate a car, and to keep myself healthy without having to carve out extra time from my day to exercise.

bike-monuBut as the miles on the bike piled up, I started becoming more aware of the natural environment around me. I noticed it in ways that one cannot from behind the wheel of a car, or from the seat of a bus, or speeding under the city on a subway. On any given day, I might see the deep-amber sunrise of a low-air-quality day, a milky-brown river from storm runoff, or the first cherry blossoms sprouting in springtime. Perhaps an offshore weather system shifted the breeze from its usual northwesterly direction, or the summer humidity sent steam rising off of asphalt.

In my days before the bike, I never would have noticed any of these things. My bike ride to and from work transformed ecology and the environment from an abstract concept into something that I saw, heard, and felt for 40 minutes, twice a day, for every day I went into the office. This remains one of the most surprising, and rewarding, aspects of bike commuting for me.

BikeSnowWhether this coming Bike to Work Day is your first time trying a bike commute, or just the latest of many, I would heartily encourage you to take a few moments on your ride to look around for the things that would otherwise fly by your window. I do on every ride, and it is often the highlight of my workday. Though, saving all that money and avoiding the gym is not bad, either.

Brief bio: Darren Buck is a marketing specialist with the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, and has also published research on bicycle transportation planning topics. He has been using a bicycle to get around the Washington, DC area for nearly 12 years.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Bike to Work Day

Today is Bike to Work Day.

Two days ago, we blogged about the benefits of biking to work.

Did you ride your bike to work today?

If so, tell us about your experience in the comments below.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Bike to Work Day

About the Author: Pat Childers is a Senior Advisor in the Office of Air and Radiation who has spent over 1/2 his life promoting Clean Transportation choices for the American public. Pat currently coordinates the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee and the Clean Air Excellence Awards and is the proud father of two budding cyclists.

Image of author, wife and two young sons on tandem bike

Bike to Work Day is Friday May 15, unlike many folks my decision isn’t to bike or not, its deciding which bike to ride. Some people think biking is my life. I seldom go a day with out some sort of spinning, be it mountain biking, commuting, or riding with my kids. I was named the Agency Bike Coordinator by Carol Browner fifteen years ago. I volunteer for an organization that teaches kids about the environment from the seat of a mountain bike. I met my wife through a biking buddy, and the first purchase we ever made together was a red tandem bike. I even teach a diversity class using bikes. While biking is a passion, it is not my life. However I do find that biking is a great tool, it is the swiss army knife that I use to get through my day providing me a way to solve many problems with one simple tool.

Biking is a great tool for exercise as you burn calories riding through the city or local parks. I look back at the 240 lbs that used to be me, and say it’s good to be on the other side of 200 now and I can thank biking for that.

It’s also a great tool for teaching almost anything. Need a math lesson, a bike has 3 front gears and 9 back gears…how many total gears does that provide? Please don’t say 12. How about history, sports and diversity lessons, the first African American World Champion in any sport was Major Taylor who was a cyclist at the turn of the century a hundred years ago, and Susan B Anthony said that the bike “has done more to emancipate woman than any one thing in the world”. That’s some pretty lofty importance to place on two wheels.

On top of that, the scientific importance of bicycling from pneumatic tires to the Wright brothers developing their ideas for the airplane from their previous job building bikes, make the bike one of the most important inventions ever.

But what biking really can do best is act as a tool for low cost environmentally sound transportation. For years I rode a bike recycled from the trash and the only fuel I needed for the trip was one peanut butter banana and cheese sandwich. If you look around the community you will see cyclists of every age, sex, race and socioeconomic background all riding for different reasons-fun, health, finances, coolness factor. Whatever their reason, they are all riding and they are all helping the environment, reducing their daily footprint by increasing their daily cycling mileage so to speak. I doubt that most think about the environment, the science of biking, or as they happily spin from place to place, seeing the world from a different view than commuters stuck in traffic.

Biking isn’t my life, but it certainly has made my life better so I will join the crowd on bike to work day….if I can just figure out which bike to ride.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.