How green is your commute?

Photo contributed by the UBC Solar Team

Unlike what most people think, it’s really not that hard to give your beloved gas-guzzling, carbon-belching vehicle a vacation. All you need is commitment.

“It’s really just a matter of making the mental switch to say ‘Yeah I want to do this.’ And once you start, it’s not that hard,” said Kamloops resident Gisela Ruckert.

After a test run last year, Ruckert is getting better at using sustainable modes of travel in her daily life.

“This year, I’ve been using my bike for transportation on a regular basis,” she said. “It’s no fun in the rain, but it’s been great on a beautiful day. And the more I do it, the better I get at it.”

She’s also started walking more. She now walks with her family from her Lower Sahali home to downtown Kamloops to watch the Blazers.

“It’s probably about a 20-minute walk. We make more of an effort to just walk. It’s better for us, so why not? There’s no downside.”

As a member of Kamloops 350, an organization that aims for a healthier future by preserving the environment, Ruckert knows how important it is to cut down on her carbon emissions.

Kamloops 350 is an offshoot of 350.org, an international organization spearheading a global campaign on climate change. The number 350 stands for 350 parts per million, the safe upper limit of carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere according to the world’s leading scientists and climate experts. When CO2 levels exceed this limit, it initiates an irreversible chain reaction that adversely affects life on earth.

“We’re currently at 392,” said Ruckert. “We not only have to maintain, we also have to reduce the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to avoid the really catastrophic effects of climate change.”

To get there, every little bit counts. Choosing a smart mode of transportation is a great way to start.

In partnership with the City of Kamloops and the B.C. Sustainable Energy Association, Kamloops 350 is launching the Great Green Transportation Tune-Up to help people reduce their travel-related carbon emissions. The event will run from Sept. 26 to Oct. 1 in Kamloops.

The lineup of activities combines fun and information. Those who love a good game can join the Transit Treasure Hunt, where participants ride the bus to pick up clues and win prizes, or the Bike, Bus or Boogie Challenge where contestants complete a set of errands by cycling, bussing or running.

The “Green Your Transportation” pledge encourages people to commit to walking, biking, taking the bus or carpooling for a chance to win prizes.

At the Cool Wheels display, sustainable vehicles like hybrids, electric cars and e-bikes will be on display. A solar car built by a team from the University of British Columbia will also make a stop at this event. At the Imagination Station, people can share their vision of sustainable travel through text or drawing.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, and nobody knows it more than Ruckert.

“I don’t want to say that I don’t drive my car anymore,” she admitted. “But little by little, I’m offsetting a little more of that all the time.”

For Kamloops 350, the goal is showing how change, even in small collective increments, is possible.

For more information, visit www.kamloops350.com.

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