Living

Published on June 18th, 2008 | by Justin Van Kleeck

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Green Walking 2: Urban Walkabout

My first post on green walking provided some hopefully handy tips for you to go walkabout, to get out in nature and do some green walking. In the age where any travel that is not sustainable is terribly costly in many, many ways, it is more imperative than ever for each of us to become a peripatetic.

But here is the good news: Green walking is not just “nature walking” per se, not just walkabout. Green walking is also ideal for city travel…helping cut down on many kinds of pollution, smog that obscures the lovely natural views everywhere, travel expenses, resource consumption, and driver rage, just to name a few things.

In order to facilitate your transition from commuter to sustainable commuter, from walker to green walker, I offer here a few more tips on green walking in a city environment…on going urban walkabout.

1. Like walkabouts in nature, urban walkabouts should be as sensual as possible. Although some urban settings have been deliberately “greened up” with strategic flowerbeds, parks, and eco-friendly architecture, many cities are truly urban jungles–forests of concrete. But even here you can listen to the cooing of pigeons or find some green things struggling for life in the cracks of sidewalks. And there are often flower shops, produce stands, and pets to be encountered. So enjoy these instances of nature-here-and-now whenever you can. Of course, the sun is almost always shining–or if not, then rain is falling or wind is blowing–so you still can likely get some sensual stimulation on your urban walkabout if you pay attention.

2. To make the most of your walking time and energy, plan strategically in order to make the best of your walking commute. That is, try to shop in areas where you can walk to all the stores and get back to point A. Rather than drive from a grocery store on one side of town to a pharmacy on the other, seek places where as many stores you patronize are within walking distance of each other. And rather than drive from one side of the mall to the other, walk from store to store within the mall and then return to your car. Also consolidate errands so you can make one roundabout urban walkabout and accomplish many tasks at once.

3. Make your urban walkabout enjoyable. Go out with friends, visit interesting places, smile at strangers. Your green walking should be a fun experience that you will look forward to each time you get in green motion. You may even feel inclined to get goofy–wear one of those beer/water sipper hats, dress ostentatiously (tye-dye, Earth-emblazoned shirts and hats, etc.), “power walk” with limbs flailing and face beaming, do cartwheels or back-flips…. Whatever, if green walking gets boring or tedious or dutiful, then you may lose the love behind the walk and so diminish the experience…and potentially give up.

4. Utilize other modes of sustainable transportation. For example, combine walking and biking or bus/trolley commuting in your urban walkabout. Or carpool with friends to the mall and then do your multitasking walkabout there. Or after you park your car at the garage/lot, walk a distance to a bus stop and then commute the rest of the way to work (or vice versa).

5. Bring necessary or helpful equipment with you. If you know you will be picking up some items on your green-walking trip, bring a backpack or even a rolling handcart to carry everything without breaking your back. Also bring water, snacks, or anything else that you might want/need. (Indeed, you can even pack a lunch and include a picnic in a city park with your urban walkabout!)

6. Go urban walkabout whenever you can. Before and after work, during breaks, and any old time is a good time to take a walk outside. So just do it whenever you can…take every opportunity to go for a (green) walk.

7. Last, but by far not least, green walking in the city (and just about anywhere) should make you feel good. Whether or not you get an endorphin rush from the exercise, green walking should make you “buzz” with joy in knowing that you are helping reduce human impact on the planet. You are saving resources, reducing pollution, benefiting your holistic health, and making a statement about the need to live sustainably. You are getting out of doors into nature (even if it seems hard to find). So yes, feel proud for being an urban walkabouter! Just do not go to the extreme of self-righteousness. Let your Earth-loving heart move your feet, share the good green word and deed with others as you move, and help every living thing keep up its own lovely lively motion.

Whether you are in an Arcadian forest or an urban (or suburban) jungle, walking is a great way for you engage in sustainable travel. It is easy, fun, and oh so gloriously green!

So I hope that with these few tips and reminders for migrating from walking to green walking, in town and country, you should be all set to get in motion and go walkabout. See you outside.

Image credit: Fb78 at Wikimedia Commons.



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About the Author

I am an ethical vegan (since 1999), a writer, an educator, an activist, an organizer, and a vegan-of-all-trades. I have a PhD in English but then left academia to work on social change. I focus on veganism, animal rights, local foods, farming practices, environmentalism, and sustainability--starting from the position that humans are just one part of the biosphere, not the center of it.



  • http://marksalinas.com Mark Salinas

    Great tips! Good post!

  • http://ironmonkey.blogspot.com Tom

    ” . . . rather than drive from one side of the mall to the other, walk from store to store within the mall.”

    There are people who drive from one side of the mall to the other? That just made me feel sick. This is a great article, though.

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