In 2007, I took my family to Africa, to Tanzania into the Serengeti. We camped (English style) for almost 3 weeks in three different places and occasionally stayed in rustic beautiful lodges.
When we were out camping and exploring, we saw incredible wildlife, beautiful spacious wilderness, and not a car nor person except for the occasional Maasai. Yet at meals and over the campfire at night, our guides talked of how spoiled and diminished this land was becoming. How in a few short years or maybe as long as ten it will be ruined by development. How much of the bush or savanna was being used and sectioned off confining the animals to smaller and smaller spaces; and how this was causing great stress and reduction of the number of large and small game alike. It seemed improbably or impossible that so beautiful, and plentiful land was in jeopardy. Yet they were remorseful of what has happened and what was to come.
When we returned to California, we wondered if they thought Africa was spoiled, what have we done to our land, and what are we continuing to do to it. Things have to change and soon. I declared to myself that I would be involved in an effort to help save or restore our immediate and more global environment.
I’ve searched for ways to increase my resourcefulness and reduce waste and environmental impact. Many dinner conversations at my house revolved around how to do more to help and make a difference.
I was so pleased when my daughter came home and announced that her science project would be a study on how “green” we are by measuring, “What is the fastest way home from school?” she asked. My daughter was living our family commitment to environmental sensitivity. I knew our world was changing.
Simply put, her project was a comparison in travel and efficiency, measuring walking, scooter, bicycle, Minibike, golf cart, and driving (a car) to see which mode had the least environmental impact and allowed the most efficiency in transportation. She set out to compare speed and, as she put it, “ruin to our the neighborhood.”
What seemed like a fun project, turned into a really interesting learning experience for my daughter and her classmates. She ran the experiment and determined that the fastest mode was clearly the scooter, because they jumped on it right outside the classroom and pushed hard. Second was the bicycle. Surprisingly, in last place was the car due to the enormous lines that parents wait in before fetching their children, and other factors. Walking the ¾ miles to school was actually faster than driving.
The project concluded that overall biking was the most efficient and environmentally sensitive mode of transportation to/from school — it was not tiring as the scooter and presented no impact to the neighborhood. My daughter suggested schools rethink their parent pick up policies.