I’ve got your money saving, planet-protecting, and weight-loss solution and you don’t even have to write to your congressman, sign a petition or even vote. What is it? Walk.
“Money makes the world go around”
How much do you spend on gas per month just to get to work? To get groceries? To have fun? The average commuter travels 15 miles one-way to get to work. That's five 50-minute round-trips or 150 miles per week spent driving to and from work. The average passenger car in 2012 has a fuel efficiency of 35.6 MPG. That’s 4.21 gallons per week. The average cost of a gallon of gas is $3.60, which brings us to an average weekly cost $15.16 or over $60/month or $720 per year. But what about all the activities we use our car for? The average american drives 13,321 miles per year or roughly 256 miles per week. That’s almost $30/week or $1560 per year.
So you call yourself Green?
I am sure most people in Los Angeles would call themselves progressive (69% voted for Obama in 2012) and Angelenos have a reputation for being green. But, we seem to have a hard-wired disconnect from what we want and how we live. Most Angelenos drive to work, to the market and to seek entertainment. The way L.A. has developed over time has created a car culture that has become so obstinate that it is assumed people can’t get around without a car and those who do are crazy. The average American’s annual carbon footprint was around 17 metric tons in 2009. A single passenger car emits about 5 metric tons/year. Just by eliminating the car from your daily life can slash almost 30% of your carbon footprint. I’m issuing a challenge to Angelenos: if you’re really progressive and care about the environment, then live up to your values and insist on a lifestyle free from car dependency.
We’re fat and this might be why
According to the CDC, over two-thirds of Americans are overweight and over one-third of Americans are obese. In L.A. it seems the furthest anyone walks is from their car to the door of their workplace, their favorite restaurant, their home: anywhere. How much time on average do we spend in our cars just to get to work? The U.S. Census Bureau says about 25 minutes. The average time for people who walk to work? Around 11 minutes. A round-trip car-ride is 50 minutes. A round-trip walk to work is 22 minutes. Put another way, that’s 50 minutes of sitting versus 22 minutes of being active. Or, that’s 50 miles of burning virtually no Calories versus 22 minutes of Calorie burning activity. According to this Calorie burning calculator, a 175-pound person will burn 100 Calories walking 3 MPH for 22 minutes. That’s an extra 2,000 Calories per month, or 24,000 Calories per year. The implications for a person trying to lose weight is even more meaningful. If one pound of fat is equal to 3,500 Calories, you stand to lose almost 7 pounds in a year, just from walking to work!
I’m not saying to get rid of your car. I’m just showing you one simple thing you can do to help your health, your pocketbook, and your planet. Walk. If you care about your health, walk. If you care about your finances, walk. If you care about our planet, walk.