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How to Make Earth Day Travel Choices Everyday – A Diary by Kasha Sequoia Slavner

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Kasha Slavner, the 17 year-old filmmaker and writer behind The Global Sunrise Project knows being a good steward of the environment is an integral part of becoming a good global citizen. After her trip from Toronto to New York City we asked her to share why she felt taking the bus is so important for the environment.

It has become a tradition every March break for the past four years that my mom and I travel down to New York City from Toronto to attend a conference at the United Nations. Since I do not drive yet, and 12 hours is a long haul for mom behind the wheel, we always take the bus. We usually take an overnight schedule so it gives us a full extra day in New York City.

This is me, starting off our trip NYC from downtown Toronto.

As travelers, my mom and I have tried almost every form of transportation: car, plane, train, bus, bike, boat. We both enjoy land travel most.

Bus travel is not only great for taking in the great scenery, but it’s also easier on the environment. The concept of sustainable development is one which meets our current generation’s needs without compromising the future generation’s needs as well.

When we choose to travel by bus we are making a more sustainable decision, as one bus full of people can take up to 50 cars off the road, reducing carbon emissions significantly. Greyhound’s buses are powered by clean diesel, low emission engines and transports 18 million passengers each year. Can you imagine if all these passengers had driven their own cars or taken planes? That would leave a huge carbon footprint.

 

  Driving on the Gardiner Expressway, leaving the city. Imagine if all these people took the bus.

The United Nations World Travel Organization says there are 1 billion tourists traveling every year. Every choice we make as travelers collectively can make a huge impact on our world. The choices we make which affect the environment also have a direct impact on our own health too. Environmental wellness is our own wellness. The power is in our hands and wallets – how we choose to spend our money will make a difference. I look at it this way: what we spend our dollars on counts as a vote for what we believe in and want to support. While air transportation may be even faster on long journeys and reduce some of the travel time between Toronto and New York, it is certainly not the most earth-friendly or most economical choice.

 

The view of the sunrise reminds me how precious our world is.

As a young journalist, I like to focus on inspiring stories of hope and resilience. The earth is no different. Under the right care, it can flourish and thrive too. Earth Day, April 22nd, is one day where we can collectively make a conscious effort to help our own planet. Let’s not stop there. We can make every day Earth Day in small ways by making choices to travel in ways that are more eco-friendly.

Even en route we can do more. Buses make a few rest stops, which usually offer food along the way. Because most are fast-food outlets my mom and I will typically purchase some healthy snacks ahead of time (like fresh fruit, salads, wraps, Kind bars and the like) instead of buying heavily packaged or fast foods.

 

Stocking up on some fresh fruit for the return trip home.

To stay hydrated while traveling we also bring along a reusable water bottle. My mom has taught me that we should always leave a place better than how we found it, so we look for facilities to recycle if available along route, or carry any packaging and wrappers in our knapsacks with us back home, rather than throwing everything into the trash bin. This way we can limit the amount of waste that might end up in landfills.

We can also travel in friendlier ways at home, especially in a big city where public transportation is so accessible, or you can walk or cycle somewhere. You’d be surprised at how many people still get in their cars to drive less than a mile to get to the store or drop off their children at school.

A city of millions gives us food for thought about living green, sustainable lives.

Whenever we travel I love sitting by the big picture windows, watching the variety of landscapes and scenes pass me by. As a documentary filmmaker I’m captivated by this continuous footage. It sparks my imagination and inspires me.

Beautiful small rural towns and villages whizz past my window.

On Greyhound’s route between Toronto and New York, there are charming small towns, plenty of forests, and beautiful farm landscapes. Sometimes you’ll see members of the Amish and Mennonite communities traveling on the route as well. A reminder of a simpler way of life. The road is lined with curving pathways and mountains. I love how the same landscapes can change with weather and time of year. It feels like a different journey almost every time we travel.

An advantage of a small town is there’s less traffic to deal with.

These suggestions may seem cliché but they can make a difference, especially if more people make the same choices knowing they will help the planet. So far there’s only one planet we know of that can sustain human life and we’re on it. As inhabitants who share it with all living creatures, it’s our duty to be environmental stewards so we, and future generations, can continue to enjoy the beauty of the earth we love to explore.

 

To learn more about Kasha or The Global Sunrise Project, you can visit her website.

 

 

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