This week, the Office of Sustainability interns heard about state and federal environmental policy from the Hoosier Environmental Council’s Jesse Kharbanda and Sen. Lugar’s senior policy analyst, Neil Brown. In preparing for this discussion, we read through a variety of documents including Sen. Lugar’s proposed energy legislation. In reading through Sen. Lugar’s “Practical Energy Plan,” I couldn’t help but notice the frequent use of the phrase, “to decrease pain at the pump” as justification for proposed higher fuel efficiency standards, alternative fuel research, and a decreased dependence on foreign oil.
This commonly used phrase gains political traction and appeals to the masses (I’d love it if I didn’t have to pay $40 to fill up my gas tank!) and there’s really nothing wrong with using our common desire to spend less money to move legislation forward that will decrease our dependence on oil. However, the process of writing a bill, passing it into law, enforcing the law, and having the benefits actually trickle down to “decreased pain at the pump” makes me dizzy.
Isn’t there something we can do as individuals to decrease the horrible pain associated with pumping gas? Yes, there is: avoid the pump all together. The thought of abandoning your car might seem as impossible as solving our country’s debt problems, but in Bloomington it’s not that absurd of a notion.
The Bloomington Transit System allows you to, in their own words, dump the pump and save money by offering 11 routes that allow you access to the city of Bloomington without having to use your car.
The IU Office of Sustainability also works hard to enable IU students to leave their car behind. The Bike Friendly Campus Initiative intern works to improve the biking environment on campus and encourages students to bring a bike to campus. The Campus Garden Initiative intern encourages students to get involved with growing food on campus by replacing a trip to the grocery store with volunteer hours at the campus garden in exchange for fresh produce. Other interns work to educate students about living sustainably on and off campus, reduce waste, and become more engaged in the local community, none of which requires a car!
Next time you fill your car up with gas, be inspired not only to become politically involved but also to find three news ways to avoid using your car. In Bloomington and at IU, it’s possible.