Friday, July 20, 2007

Twenty Days of Something Different

A couple of months ago, I received an email that described how I could help force the oil companies to reduce the price of gas. All I had to do was refrain from buying gasoline on May 15. That would show 'em. I would be helping to "put a dent in the oil industry."

Oh, you got that email to? Did you participate?

I didn't.

The only difference that staying away from the pump on any one day would make is that the gas stations would be more crowded the days before and after. And, of course, thinking, rational people would laugh at me.

It's not even effective on a symbolic level. Raise awareness? Is there anyone who isn't already highly aware that gas prices are soaring? We cringe every time we fill up, but we still fill up.

Want to send a message? Don't reschedule fill-ups - eliminate them.

Twenty Days in August is a small but growing movement in central Arkansas that challenges consumers to radically change their habits for twenty days by finding alternatives to fuel consumption.

Obvious changes include using public transportation, bicycling, or carpooling to work. Other less obvious suggestions include buying local produce and meats -- food that hasn't traveled thousands of miles to get to your table -- and coordinating trips to the grocery store so that one person is doing the shopping for a few people.

I am committed to taking the bus to work as much as I can between Aug. 1 and Aug. 20, and I'll ride my bike to the grocery store. If I do have to get the car out to run errands, I'll check with friends and relatives to see if I can pick up stuff for them while I'm out.

I expect this to eliminate at least two trips to the gas station. Eliminate -- not postpone.

The goal is twenty days. That's short enough to manage the inconvenience -- but also long enough to develop new, enduring habits.

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