Planning to do some biking and walking in London, and want to get rewarded? Or spending time in Cambodia, and want to report illegal wildlife sales? We’ve got apps for that.
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.
This year’s Park(ing) Day (an annual event I covered a few years ago) has come and gone and was another great success. In fact, it looks like they’re still counting the number of temporary “parks” people created in parking spaces around the world. Of course, all of those green spaces are gone now, but wouldn’t it be nice if parking spaces were being converted into spots for permanent enjoyment of the outdoors?
Walking to school seems like a quaint notion from decades past: whether for reasons of safety or convenience, the bus, the carpool, or the drop-off on the way to work have become the ways kids get to their schools. While the first two methods are definitely greener than the last, all deprive kids of an opportunity to get some physical activity on a regular basis… and walking definitely has a much lower carbon footprint than any motorized means.
In the UK, government agency Transport for London and company Intelligent Health have paired up to make walking more attractive for school kids… by offering rewards for getting to school on foot. The Step2Get program makes use of electronic cards that students swipe at various readers along designated routes, and a website were the kids can track their walks and rewards. Five walks to school earn a student a movie ticket; for eight walks, s/he receives a £5 shopping voucher.