Not Everyone Lives the Same Way You Do, and That’s OK

People who have spent their entire lives living a suburban, car-centric life cannot necessarily understand what an urban, car-light lifestyle is like. It’s not a hellscape of driving in circles forever trying to park. It’s the opposite of that.

Walking

The author and her dog walking in the Whittier neighborhood of Minneapolis. Photo courtesy of Dan Kauppi.

A car-light life is different for every person. For me, it means walking to my friends’ houses and running into other friends on the way. It means building community with people I run into on bike paths every day during my commute. It means getting exercise just by getting around. It means creatively using my bike trailer to transport groceries, garden supplies, kayaks and my dog. It means that errands become something I look forward to because it’s a reason to walk or bike to a new place. There’s freedom in making it work.

It’s hard for people to imagine that other people might live differently than they do. When I was a kid living in Eagan, we could walk to school and to the park. We had to drive basically everywhere else. If you’re living in a place with a Walk Score of 9, it’s totally reasonable to assume that everyone else drives as much as you do. It’s probably reasonable to get mad about reduced speed limits and increased parking fees in Minneapolis, because you assume that the only way to get there is to drive and that these policies are hurting everyone.

I don’t blame anyone for living in this bubble. We all know what we know, and if you’ve lived in the suburbs your entire life, you know driving. A few years ago I was watching my young cousins and took a walk with one of them, who was around 10 at the time. We walked through the neighborhood, walked by many stores and stopped at the co-op. I asked him what he thought. He said, “It’s really cool, you can walk everywhere.” I knew that our experience in my neighborhood was a new one for him, and I hope it helped him see future possibilities.

In the Twin Cities, there are fewer cars per person in areas of poverty and areas where there is a high level of walkability and transit service. Some people cannot afford a car. Some people do not want to use a car. We should build infrastructure that supports car-free living for people who need it now and people who may choose it in the future. As I’ve driven less, I’ve realized that driving is anathema to the things I care about. So I’ve continued to shape my choices and behaviors to reduce driving as much as possible. I now only drive to see friends and family in places I can’t get to without a car.

We are in a climate crisis. We need to encourage people to be walking, biking, and taking transit when at all possible. Dense, walkable neighborhoods are more efficient and produce less carbon per person than sprawling suburban neighborhoods. Preventing new development, new bike lanes, and new bus lanes is actually preventing other people from choosing to drive less. Building more housing in walkable areas will reduce driving. Building bike lanes and bus lanes will reduce driving. It’s time to move forward even if there are unknowns about how a choice might impact the neighborhood, because we know that it will be good for the planet.

We have spent too long assuming that car use and ownership is the only way to function in this country. People are waking up to the climate crisis and they want to live differently. It’s not just better for the environment to live in dense, walkable neighborhoods; it’s better for building a healthy, active life and a vibrant community. This is why we need to make sure everyone has access to abundant and affordable housing in walkable, amenity-rich areas. People want to live lives that are less reliant on cars, and we should open the doors to let them.

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55 Responses to Not Everyone Lives the Same Way You Do, and That’s OK

  1. Adam Miller
    Adam Miller September 24, 2019 at 12:40 pm #

    I think a lot of people who haven’t tried it, or live where they can’t reasonably try it, realized how liberating it can be to not have to worry about where you’re going to store your car.

    Also, I don’t think people in general realize how much more pleasant places become when there are fewer/no cars going through them.

    • Glen Johnson September 24, 2019 at 2:16 pm #

      When I lived in Whittier years back, it was hard to fathom going carless. Grocery runs and commuting seemed like urgent needs to have a vehicle. Working remotely led me to ditch my car. The new Aldi so close would shift the calculus even further.

      In my new neighborhood, it’s hard to imagine having a car again for the same reason you cite: no worries about where my car is or whether it needs to be moved. It’s amazing.

  2. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke September 24, 2019 at 12:51 pm #

    Thanks for this lovely and persuasive essay. I like how you balance positivity with a critical perspective.

    • Lindsey Aster Silas
      Lindsey Aster Silas September 24, 2019 at 3:52 pm #

      Thanks Bill!

  3. Anton Schieffer
    Anton Schieffer September 24, 2019 at 1:05 pm #

    This is great, thank you for writing this. It’s very difficult for those who live in suburbs (or even unwalkable parts of Minneapolis) to visualize what living without a car is like. I personally had no idea it was even possible until I moved to uptown many years ago and could suddenly walk to grocery stores, bike to meet up with friends, or take a bus downtown. My car eventually broke down and I never even considered replacing it.

    I think creating walkable neighborhoods is an essential and foundational building block to fighting climate change. We need to create a world where smaller carbon footprints are the norm, rather than accepting driving as the default way to get around.

  4. UrbanDelite September 24, 2019 at 1:05 pm #

    Great perspective. Enjoyed this so much.

    I grew up in a very urban and dense place where groceries, coffee, dinner, and many other creature comforts were a five minute walk away at the very most. Never owned a car until moving here, and loved every second of the freedom it afforded me. I consider myself lucky to be able to have that experience.

    When my family was buying a home in Minneapolis, we tried so hard to live in a highly walkable area, but the price points were so high that we were priced out. Our nearest coffee house is currently a mile away, and nearest grocery store is two miles away. In the summer, a leisurely mile stroll for coffee and breakfast is nice with the kids in tow. Less so in the winter. Groceries, well, we get in the car for that. Not what we aspire to do, but our time is unfortunately not infinite.

    I spend a lot of time wondering how I can encourage walkable neighborhood nodes to develop around me. We don’t live in a suburb, but it certainly feels like it some days.

    • Adam Miller
      Adam Miller September 24, 2019 at 1:19 pm #

      I’m looking forward to mixing in a few more 2 and 3 unit buildings to provide more built-in customers for those neighborhood nodes, that were viable in the streetcar days and/or when families were a little bigger (and thus the city was a little more dense).

  5. Bob Roscoe September 24, 2019 at 1:07 pm #

    I appreciate your observations very much. As for me and my wife Sally, we live in on East River Road in Minneapolis,which is a lovely place to live. Three years ago we downsized from two cars to one, with the expectancy that Uber would be suffice, and Uber has worked very well for us. But Minneapolis and Saint Paul have various densities and where we live is not where we could meet our semi-daily needs by walking and Uber, whereas our daughter living in a higher density are near downtown does not need a car, and gets to the places she wants to go. And she can borrow our car whenever she wants to.

    My bike takes me to the nearby Green Line for trips to down Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

  6. Elizabeth Larey September 24, 2019 at 1:27 pm #

    Thanks for the lovely article. I wish we had better transit options in the suburbs to get into the city. I love my house and property in White Bear Lake, but miss going into the city as much as I used to.I rarely go anymore because driving and parking is a major hassle. It’s easier for me to get in and out of Northeast, so that’s where my restaurant dollars are spent. If I lived in the city, I’m sure my car would spend most of its time in the garage.

  7. Scott Berger September 24, 2019 at 1:57 pm #

    Frequently, the perception seems to be that if you speak out against expansion or continuation of auto-oriented development you’re simply against “cars.” And, by extension, they perceive that you’re also against the types of people who take ownership of the car-centric lifestyle. This isn’t true, but that’s the perception.

    I’m an automotive enthusiast, but I’d rather walk for almost any trip short of a weekend joyride.

    The ability to have the use of a car, but not be required to use it for every single trip–particularly commuting–could actually be marketed as a strength of our mixed urban/suburban metro going forward. Choice is good, but we need to even the playing field and continue to promote multi-modal infrastructure.

  8. Quinn Haberl September 24, 2019 at 2:13 pm #

    Excellent article!

  9. Karen E Sandness September 24, 2019 at 3:47 pm #

    Forty years ago, when vegetarianism was unfamiliar to a lot of Americans, Anna Thomas wrote a cookbook called “The Vegetarian Epicure.” In the preface, she noted that a vegetarian meal is not a typical meat-potatoes-one vegetable meal without the meat but a complete rethinking of what constitutes a meal.

    Similarly, a car-free life does not mean living in a cul de sac in Eagan or Minnetonka without a car. It means choosing to live in a place where you can walk or take transit to as many places as possible.

    I now live a car-lite life, and I wish I could afford to move into the few Twin Cities neighborhoods where a completely car-free life is possible.

    • Lindsey Aster Silas
      Lindsey Aster Silas September 24, 2019 at 3:56 pm #

      Yes, exactly. A car-free or car-light life is a whole different imagining of what life is like. You make different choices all along the way: where to live, where to work, where to go to the doctor, what you do for fun, etc.

  10. Peter Wuest September 24, 2019 at 5:50 pm #

    I agree with the idea of a car-light lifestyle. You are inspirational. While I’m not always afforded that opportunity, I can appreciate the benefits.

    That said, this lifestyle is a choice. If people want cars, it’s their prerogative. The city still has the obligation to supply parking spaces to high density areas. Providing variances to developers is the antithesis of “if you build it they will come” it’s more like “if you don’t provide parking, people won’t have cars”. It is with this, that I respectfully disagree.

    The trend is for less car usage, and let us embrace it. But we can’t force it.

    • Lindsey Aster Silas
      Lindsey Aster Silas September 24, 2019 at 7:33 pm #

      Hi Peter, I have written this from my personal perspective as a resident of Minneapolis and not in any official capacity. If you have comments about a project I’m working on at work, feel free to contact me through official channels.

    • Adam Miller
      Adam Miller September 25, 2019 at 10:07 am #

      “The city still has the obligation to supply parking spaces to high density areas.”

      It is hard for me to square the idea that people making a choice to drive creates an obligation on the city. If it is a choice, shouldn’t people making that choice bear the cost of facilitating it?

      • Peter Wuest September 25, 2019 at 6:05 pm #

        It’s the law. Properties need to have off street parking for apartments. One space per unit. I only want what the law “guarantees”

        • T September 26, 2019 at 7:28 am #

          This article covers a good deal on parking and how to reform it while still allowing people to drive if they want. Please read this and respond with any comments

          https://www.citylab.com/perspective/2019/09/parking-lot-urban-planning-transit-street-traffic-congestion/598504/

        • Adam Miller
          Adam Miller September 26, 2019 at 11:12 am #

          In Minneapolis, it is not the law.

          • Erik September 27, 2019 at 12:19 am #

            CORRECTION: It IS THE LAW (at least for now). Specifically chapter 541.170 of the Municipal Code of Ordinances; Title 20 – Zoning Code; Article III – Specific Off-Street Parking Requirements; Table 541-1.

            As a biker, advocate for affordable housing and density, father of a child with a disability (who can’t bike), voter and deep-believer in the value trustworthy and ethical governance, I demand that until the law is changed (which I would be supportive of), government officials — employees, appointed and elected officials –MUST FOLLOW THE LAW.

            This is true of everyone from the President to the Planning Commission. Government officials have an obligation and a responsibility to uphold the Law. They are holding the public’s sacred trust; regardless of personal opinion or other policy agenda (however noble) they are seeking to advance, they must FOLLOW THE LAW. Period.

            • Adam Miller
              Adam Miller September 27, 2019 at 10:01 am #

              Read the next few sections…

            • Bruce Brunner
              Bruce Brunner October 2, 2019 at 9:17 am #

              I took Adam’s advice and looked it up as it seems you omitted this- and it clarifies that numerous exceptions exist to reduce or eliminate parking requirement so in many cases, no parking is required-

              Table 541-4.5 Transit Incentive for
              Multiple-Family Dwellings

      • Scott Walters September 29, 2019 at 6:09 pm #

        There’s no such requirement. Studio apartments in The Penfield in downtown Saint Paul don’t come with any parking, and are, in the words of our property manager, “Highly desirable.”. The Penfield was built by the City of Saint Paul, so I’m pretty sure that means the city was not obligated to build parking.

    • Rosa September 30, 2019 at 6:57 pm #

      why does the city have more of a responsibility to provide parking spaces than it does to provide bike storage, wheelchair accessibility, or safe crossings for pedestrians?

      Because we have LOTS of parking and not a lot of the rest of those things. What makes the parking a more important use of public space and funds?

  11. John September 24, 2019 at 6:10 pm #

    People do make their choices, and wisely so for their own and their community’s well being. And you’re trying to use your position in city govt to force people who’ve already made their own choice to live in their communities , to live differently as you see fit. Such as supporting development of an out of place, out of character, under resourced, infringing apt building which is not permitted per current code requirements nor permitted by the 2040 plan, and which will further congest already dangerously congested streets with more cars. The residents of the neighborhood choose to invest and live here for all number of reasons. They’re afforded opportunity and protection of their investments via codes and ordinances, and are generally supportive of thoughtful initiatives to bring improvements to their neighborhood, such as 2040. Granting exceptions to developers who overpay for land and then waste resources by tearing down viable, affordable homes, in order to maximize profit while building non-confirming, luxury priced behemoths, is poor execution of authority.

    • Lindsey Aster Silas
      Lindsey Aster Silas September 24, 2019 at 6:48 pm #

      Hi John, I have written this from my personal perspective as a resident of Minneapolis and not in any official capacity. If you have comments about a project I’m working on at work, feel free to contact me through official channels.

      • John September 24, 2019 at 7:00 pm #

        It appears that one perspective informs the other. Is this not the case?

        Consider the situation I’ve posed from your personal perspective; thoughts?

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke September 24, 2019 at 8:40 pm #

      John: I want to make sure that at on this page we do not threaten people’s careers for expressing their opinions. One of our editoiral guidelines is that you must write a post “from the perspective of an individual”, and we fend of a lot of prospective pieces that might fudge that line.

      All this is to say: please keep Lindsey’s day job out of this… It’s fine to debate the pros and cons of density, but do so without making it personal.

      • John September 24, 2019 at 9:18 pm #

        No problem, thanks for the guidance. As you may have noticed, I asked for her personal thoughts in my follow up.

  12. John September 24, 2019 at 8:21 pm #

    For those interested, my posts refer to a proposed project presently being “considered” by city officials and planners with respect to a variance being sought by the developer, which, if granted, would clear the way for construction of a 4 story, 23 unit apartment complex in lower Kingsfield. The proposed complex , Fullerton Flats, does not meet current code requirements, nor would it meet requirements of the soon to be implemented 2040 Plan. Based on responses from city planners to inquiries from neighborhood residents, it appears that City Planning is supportive of granting the variances thus facilitating the construction of the apartment complex.

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke September 24, 2019 at 8:41 pm #

      As a Planning Commissioner form a neighboring city, variances are granted all the time for a wide variety of reasons. Without knowing the details it’s hard to make a good judgement about this case. You’re welcome to submit a post on the topic! I promise I will read it and react to it in good faith.

      • John September 24, 2019 at 9:23 pm #

        As I property owner who has requested, received and been denied variances, I too am aware that myriad factors can be presented in requests. There are however, certain elements which must be considered in the review process:

        Variances may be granted if there are practical difficulties. “Practical difficulties” means that the property owner proposes to use the property in a reasonable manner; the plight of the landowner is due to circumstances unique to the property not created by the landowner; and the variance, if granted, will not alter the essential character of the locality. Economic considerations alone do not constitute practical difficulties. Practical difficulties include reasonableness, uniqueness, and essential character. All three of these must be satisfied in order to grant a variance.

        • Bill Lindeke
          Bill Lindeke September 25, 2019 at 8:09 am #

          Sounds familiar. In Saint Paul, to grant a variance, you need to satisfy those same conditions. The point is, though, that these are often very vague and open to interpretation.

          For example, “essential character” is not something objective. Your take on it is likely very different than mine, which is one reason why I think that condition, in particular, is absolutely worthless. Neighborhoods do not have an essential character, philosophically speaking. Maybe the essential character of all of Minneapolis is to be Dakota land? I’d argue that’s far more defensible than any other position. Any given lot in South Minneapolis was Dakota land for thousands of years, but had a privately-owned 1.5 story home on it for only a hundred.

          “Unique to the property” is also a condition that is very easy to satisfy. Whose house is not unique in some way?

  13. Mark September 24, 2019 at 11:38 pm #

    Owning a car does make you see the world differently from those who are car free either by economic necessity or choice. I’ve been car free for awhile and the benefits are still accruing, but when I owned a car, most of the issues I really care about now (pedestrian/bike safety, sustainability, etc) weren’t even on my radar.

    Experiencing things first hand can change more minds than a podcast or article. I had to experience streets as a pedestrian and cyclist to understand design and policy issues for the most vulnerable roadway users. While not everyone can be car free, increasing active mobility opportunities can go a long way in educating people about these issues.

    • Ben September 26, 2019 at 12:16 pm #

      Mark, your comment is so spot on. We had car trouble a couple of years ago and went without a car for about a year, family of 5, kids in 3 different schools at the time. We got to learn the bus system pretty well and got a lot of walking in. It really opens your eyes. Just like what Open Streets does for you when you walk down a street that you have only previously driven down for years.

      I bring up my commute with my coworkers (biking, busing, walking or a combo of all three) and just throw the idea out to them about giving it a try, if only for part of the way, in the hopes that getting a taste of what it’s like will inspire them to try more or at the very least to have a better understanding of that pedestrian they pass on the street.

  14. Andrew Evans September 25, 2019 at 7:40 am #

    Yes, but decisions have consequences.

    If the city, in it’s wisdom, continues to force people to drive less due to lack of access, then people will drive less in the city. Meaning they simply won’t come to events or go to places that they once did. This may not be good, it may not be bad, it’s a change from the way things were.

    This may not effect larger venues or sports teams. Those will always be a destination, but it may effect those of us not living around a given area or neighborhood from visiting. It also may be a choice for those moving, especially to denser neighborhoods. For example if parking downtown is now $2 an hour, that potentially is a $3-$4 new tax on visiting a restaurant there or doing some shopping, the same goes for uptown.

    There too, it depends on the effort needed to visit a place. If it is going to take walking 3-4 blocks to visit a restaurant around 26th and Nicollet, after driving around an extra 10 min, it may not be worth going since there are other places in other parts of town to go to. Would this effect a destination like Ice House, no, but it may have an impact on others. Would this be noticeable, maybe, but maybe not, it would depend on how many local residents fill in.

    Also the city (not you, but the city leaders in general) needs to keep in mind that not everyone works on a bus route. I’d have an hour and a half commute each morning, and a bus that only runs every 20 or 30 min. My partner has it worse, and it would take them an hour to go 5 miles, most of it waiting for a transfer. A few friends are now second guessing their decision to move to the Warehouse District since one of them works way up in a far northern burb, and the other around Egan, and the new meter rules are really causing havoc to them. We need vehicles to get around.

    I don’t think it’s hard at all for people in the suburbs to realize that some may not need cars in the big city. They more than likely think that everything is close by or mostly available by bus. The author here is from a privileged position as well that they work (I’m assuming) in a city office downtown which is easily reached by bus or bike.

    But like the title of the article, it’s OK to have different views on this and live different ways. I just wished at times city leadership would heed that rather than feel a given view takes more importance than others.

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke September 25, 2019 at 7:51 am #

      The way I see it, in the Twin Cities, we’d would like to have many different ways of life available for people. Plenty of places for people who want to (or feel they need to) drive most of the time, and plenty of places for people who would like to rarely use their cars, or not have one at all.

      If you look at a map, the vast majority of the Twin Cities metro is dedicated to people who prefer (or feel they must have) cars. Nearly every part of every city in the 7-county area is built with cars foremost in mind, places with almost no way to walk or no where to walk to. Meanwhile, there are very few neighborhoods that provide the kind of landscape that Lindsey discusses here. You can draw a line around the walkable parts of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, and it’s a small fraction of the whole.

      Focusing on walkability for the small parts of Minneapolis and Saint Paul that have that potential does not circumvent the rest of the metro area. There are still hundreds of neighborhoods with three-car garages, big parking lots, 45+ mph arterials, and drive-thrus. They’re just in the suburbs.

      • Andrew Evans September 25, 2019 at 8:26 am #

        The issue is, that people live in places on maps, and those people may have been there long before policy changes come about, and may have different needs that rely on having a vehicle.

        As the article title says, “Not Everyone Lives the Same Way You Do, and That’s OK” and that’s ok.

        • Bill Lindeke
          Bill Lindeke September 25, 2019 at 8:52 am #

          Living in a city is like that.

          Is there difficulty with traffic and parking in the North Loop and on Lyndale Avenue? I guess, but it’s kind of relative to what you’re comparing it to. Is there more difficulty with traffic and parking than there was in Minneapolis five years ago, or thirty years ago, or seventy-five years ago?

          These places have been changing constantly since they were created. If you were to make a graph showing how walkable and transit friendly the Wedge neighborhood has been through time, the 1990s would likely be the nadir for walkability in that area. The 1930s were likely the peak. Same is true for density, I think. The kinds of changes the city is finally making these days might have marginal impacts on traffic and parking compared to 1997, but are far more representative of the historical qualities of transportation in the city.

          Tl;dr: People used to walk a lot and then they stopped because of cars, but we can do so again and bounce back.

  15. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke September 25, 2019 at 7:43 am #

    Moderator’s note: I removed a comment that did not conform to our policies, for making a personal statement rather that focusing on the issues discussed.

  16. Constance Pepin September 25, 2019 at 1:22 pm #

    Yes, we are in a climate crisis, and we need to encourage people to be walking, biking, and taking transit when at all possible. It’s a false assumption, however, that people live in a bubble if they still need a car. Many people need to drive for many valid reasons beyond seeing friends and family. It’s not lack of knowledge or living in a bubble. It’s life. Yes, “life is different for every person.”

    Since transportation is just one factor in the emissions equation, people’s commitment to reduce their carbon footprint will be more effective if we include other lifestyle choices as well. For example, many analyses and articles state that the single most effective action people can take to combat climate change is to stop eating meat. “Efforts to curb greenhouse-gas emissions and the impacts of global warming will fall significantly short without drastic changes in global land use, agriculture and human diets, leading researchers warn in a high-level report commissioned by the United Nations. The special report on climate change and land by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) describes plant-based diets as a major opportunity for mitigating and adapting to climate change ― and includes a policy recommendation to reduce meat consumption.”
    https://www.nature.com​/articles​/d41586​-019​-02409​-7

    Changing to a vegan diet is even better than choosing a car-light lifestyle, because not only do we reduce our carbon footprint, we no longer participate in the suffering and slaughter of billions of sentient beings every year. I don’t think people in general realize how much more pleasant life becomes when we choose not to cause that suffering and slaughter just because we like the taste of other animals.

    • Lindsey Aster Silas
      Lindsey Aster Silas September 25, 2019 at 1:28 pm #

      I don’t think it has to be either/or, why not both? For me, a car-light lifestyle brings benefits above and beyond reducing carbon emissions, like getting exercise and building community. I also grow some of my own food, shop at farmers’ markets, buy organic, and don’t eat much meat. I also think systems change is much more important that individual change when it comes to addressing climate change.

      • Constance Pepin September 25, 2019 at 2:06 pm #

        Absolutely, why not both?! And the added benefit of a vegan diet is that not only do we reduce our carbon footprint, we no longer participate in the suffering and slaughter of billions of sentient beings every year (which we do even if we don’t eat much meat). That’s a freedom that far surpasses a car-light or car-free lifestyle.

        • Anton Schieffer
          Anton Schieffer September 25, 2019 at 2:45 pm #

          What’s interesting is that adhering to a vegan diet was next to impossible 20 years ago. But people shared information, fought for better food labeling, vegan communities formed, some restaurants added vegan items to their menus, and now you can buy an Impossible Whopper at Burger King. Eating a vegan meal is now a choice that mainstream consumers can make, but it took a long time.

          Similarly, 20 years ago there were a very small number of cyclists who were out on the streets in Minneapolis. But they built communities and fought for better infrastructure, and won some political battles. Now we’ve got tens of miles of protected bike lanes in the city, and great off-street resources too. We’ve got events like Open Streets that normalize what a city could look like without cars, even if it’s just for a couple of hours. The result: biking is now a choice that many regular people choose here, simply because we made the choice possible.

          Some meat eaters and car enthusiasts (and single-family home fans) will forever claim that their choice is superior, and that any alternative is some kind of attack on the One True Way. But when we provide people a viable alternative to meat or cars or whatever, at least they have the option of trying it.

        • Lindsey Aster Silas
          Lindsey Aster Silas September 25, 2019 at 3:16 pm #

          I am supportive of whatever personal climate action people are able and willing to do. There are severe human and environmental impacts from plant-based diets as well, look at the toll cashews have on the people who pick and process them. Animal agriculture, if done well, can be used to revitalize degraded ecosystems through responsible grazing and holistic management. I think we need to significantly change our agricultural practices to build soil and sequester carbon, which means switching to perennial agriculture and more locally produced foods.

          I also think that reducing the need for people to drive is more effective and is key to changing our society to be less carbon dependent. A study from Lund University in 2017 found that living car-free saves 2.4 tons of CO2 equivalent per year, while eating a plant-based diet saves 0.8 tons of CO2 equivalent a year.

          • Constance Pepin September 25, 2019 at 3:43 pm #

            Animal agriculture is not “done well”–it’s harming humans, other animals, and the planet. Most meat consumed is from factory farms. https://theconversation.com/five-ways-the-meat-on-your-plate-is-killing-the-planet-76128

            And even if a way existed for animal agriculture to be “done well”–the industry is based on the exploitation, suffering and slaughter of sentient beings– and for no reason other than humans like the taste of meat and dairy, even though so many alternatives exist.

            • Constance Pepin September 25, 2019 at 3:50 pm #

              Consumption of meat and dairy produce is a major driver of climate change.

              Greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock sector are estimated to account for 14.5 per cent of the global total, more than direct emissions from the transport sector.
              Even with ambitious supply-side action to reduce the emissions intensity of livestock production, rising global demand for meat and dairy produce means emissions will continue to rise.

              Shifting global demand for meat and dairy produce is central to achieving climate goals.

              Recent analyses have shown that it is unlikely global temperature rises can be kept below two degrees Celsius without a shift in global meat and dairy consumption.
              Reducing demand for animal products could also significantly reduce mitigation costs in non-agricultural sectors by increasing their available carbon budget.

              https://www.chathamhouse.org/publication/livestock-climate-change-forgotten-sector-global-public-opinion-meat-and-dairy

          • Constance Pepin September 25, 2019 at 7:19 pm #

            Thank you for mentioning the Lund University meta-analysis; I believe this url links to the source: https://www.lunduniversity.lu.se/article/the-four-lifestyle-choices-that-most-reduce-your-carbon-footprint

            Please note that eating a plant-based diet is one of the four “high-impact” choices to reduce our contribution to climate change, along with avoiding air travel, living car free, and having fewer children. One of the co-authors says: “We recognize that these are deeply personal choices. But we can’t ignore the climate effect our lifestyle actually has. Personally, I’ve found it really positive to make many of these changes. It’s especially important for young people establishing lifelong patterns to be aware which choices have the biggest impact.

          • Julie Kosbab September 25, 2019 at 10:11 pm #

            It is also worth noting that numerous “cruelty free” products are environmentally harmful. I’m looking at certain types of shoes and bags and similar. “Vegan leather!” is plastic, EOT.

    • Adam Miller
      Adam Miller September 25, 2019 at 2:00 pm #

      There are absolutely people who drive a car for every trip, in part, because they haven’t given any thought to doing otherwise.

      Heck, there are people who drive for every trip who have thought about it and concluded that it isn’t worth the effort.

      • Constance Pepin September 25, 2019 at 2:32 pm #

        Just as there are people who keep eating meat and dairy because they haven’t given any thought to how much animal agriculture contributes to climate change and the degradation of our planet, not to mention animal abuse.

  17. Monte Castleman September 25, 2019 at 8:21 pm #

    Looks like anything else pales in comparison to not having a kid, which makes sense to me

    If I could reduce my carbon impact by eating disgusting vegan food instead of mouth watering hamburgers and bacon, losing my freedom by not having a car, and going on vacation by taking the train to Gary, Indiana instead of seeing the Coliseum and the Eiffel tower. That might reduce my own carbon footprint by, to pull out a made up number, by a third over my lifetime.

    But If I have a kid, there’s their lifetime of carbon that would still happen. And their kids lifetime of carbon. And their grand-kid’s lifetime of carbon that will still happen. All which will be reduced to zero by not having that kid.

    I have zero kids. That’s why I don’t feel the least bit of guilt over trying to live a modern, comfortable lifestyle with all the conveniences like cars, drive-thrus, meat, and air travel.

    • Mark September 26, 2019 at 9:17 am #

      I must be an extra horrible person because I do have kids, I enjoy burgers and crispy bacon, I live in the suburbs, we own 2 cars, I’ve been to 20 countries in the last 5 years, and I have zero guilt. But I used to live in the city for years, liked some stuff, disliked others, ultimately made the decision to move to a suburb where I carpool to work.

      • Monte Castleman September 26, 2019 at 11:18 am #

        To be clear I’m not criticizing anyone that makes the choice to have kids. I’m “child-free” because having kids is not something I personally wanted to do, not because it was a lower carbon choice. And I feel that in any rate technology will come to our rescue with practical battery cars, industrial scale carbon capture, and atmospheric sulfur injection. Point is it comes across as rather hypocritical when someone with children says you shouldn’t eat meat (.0.8 tons) that you should live car-free (2.4 tons) when not having a child saves 58.6 tons

  18. Jack September 26, 2019 at 9:31 am #

    Wow, lots of negative comments.

    I grew up in the suburbs and had to be driven everywhere. My high school was only 1/2 mile away, but down a country road with no sidewalks, so walking there was only possible on a few nice days in the spring and fall. Had to take a three minute schoolbus ride most days.

    I love living in the city. I like taking the train to work. It’s about a half mile to the station, which I walk to on paved sidewalks. I can even walk to the grocery store, with the new Cub (with apartments above) only a few blocks away.

    I don’t walk places because I think my actions will save the planet. I do it because I enjoy it. I do not have any children, either, but I do have nieces and nephews and hope they won’t have to survive on a scorched, dead Earth, which looks increasingly more likely.

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