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Earth Week Activity: Take a walk (like the rest of the world!)

water well desert africa

It’s Earth Week again, and, more and more, we treat this event as a sort of green New Year’s Day: what changes can I make to benefit the natural environment? For many of us Americans, the answer could be as simple as “take a walk.”

It turns out that Americans walk less than the citizens of any other industrialized nation. Unless we live in dense urban centers, we drive to work, drive to the store, and often even drive to places to, well, take a walk. Despite this being the most natural of activities, we design it out of our daily lives: how many suburban subdivisions have sidewalks, much less stores, restaurants, and other destinations within walking distance. Shoot, we even speed it up when we have to do it: think of the moving walkways in airports.

Not only does this lack of walking increase both air pollution and our waistlines, but it also disconnects us with the way the rest of the world lives. Other industrialized countries consider walking much more in their planning; citizens of developing nations, of course, often have no other way to get places. As a part of the Billion Acts of Green campaign, Wiser.org user Antoinette Siu has created an Earth Week event to clarify this connection: a week of measuring her (and other participants’) walking.

Working with Rotary International, the activity is designed to highlight lack of access to clean water in the developing world: as Antoinette notes in the event description, “women in Africa and Asia must walk an average of 3.7 miles to and from the nearest improved sanitation facility to collect it each day, wasting more than 40 million hours each year in Africa alone.” So, participants will measure their own walking with pedometers provided by Rotary, and compare it to this staggering figure. They’ll also blog about their experiences.

Sounds like a great way to highlight walking as a viable means of getting places, as well as its necessity in other parts of the world. And this is just one group and activity on Wiser: if you’re interested, check out upcoming Billion Acts of Green events (and let us know if you participate in one).

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Image credit: Focx Photography at flickr under a Creative Commons license