Posts from the ‘Big City Pioneers Are:’ Category

Big City Pioneers Are: Walkers, Riders, and Bikers.

At the beginning of the summer, when I had officially left my horrendous, cross-lake commute behind, I made a goal of  reducing my car trips. I decided to walk anywhere within 1 mile of my house, and bus when it was appropriate. All summer, I was pretty good about accomplishing this goal. I walked about six blocks to catch a bus to work. I walked to the grocery store, only cheating when I needed to buy things like cat litter (that stuff is heavy!).

Now that fall weather is arriving, I’m not finding it too hard to stick with these habits. I bus to my new job, and walk to the grocery store – making sure my raincoat is stashed in my backpack. Fall weather here in the Pacific Northwest is notoriously rainy, but as long as you’re prepared, it’s not that bad. I will most likely be buying some rain pants to wear during those longer walks, but other than that – a little rain never hurt anyone (except the Wicked Witch, I suppose.)

What’s the benefit of this pledge I’ve taken?

Monetary – I spend about $5 for round-trip bus fare. More if I ride during “peak” hours. Taking the bus 5 days a week adds up to $100 a month. When I was driving to work every day, I spent at least $120 a month on gas. I’m not paying for parking, which could save me a bundle, but I’ve luckily never had to pay for parking. That’s a savings of $20 a month. If I totally got rid of my car, I could cut out my car payment and car insurance, which would drastically reduce my monthly expenses. I’m not there yet, though.

Health – Walking is good for you. This may sound obvious, but I thought I should mention it. Walking is gentle on your joints, reduces your risk of a vast assortment of diseases, and just feels good. I’ve lost weight and feel great.

Carbon reduction – According to, my old commute of approximately 640 miles per month created between 2-4 tons of carbon annually. To “offset” that carbon output, I would have to plant a tree a month. Instead, I walk and ride the bus.

Community – I’ve met neighbors, discovered parks, and gotten to explore my neighborhood by walking. I’ve also seen some excellent urban gardens in front yards and parking strips.Walking allows you to really see your surroundings, instead of being focused on the road ahead.

I challenge you to try it – take a walk tomorrow. Can you walk to the store? Try it out. Maybe you’ll discover something new.


Big City Pioneers Are: Employed!

Welcome to my new weekly feature! Every week I will attempt to explain what being a Big City Pioneer means to me.

This week, though is special, because finally, this Big City Pioneer is employed! I feel totally blessed because I was only unemployed for a month, and I know there are many people out there who have been looking for work for much longer than that. I also feel blessed because I am working at one of my all-time favorite stores – Half Price Books. Not to go all advertisement on you, but have you ever been to Half Price Books? It’s amazing. I now work at a store who’s motto is: “Waste Not, Read A Lot.” Really, that might as well be my personal motto.

That brings me to the real “Big City Pioneers Are:” Part of the post. Here it is. You ready?

Big City Pioneers Are: Used Stuff Purchasers

Big City Pioneers try to reduce their waste. Can you imagine how much paper is used yearly to print new books? I looked it up and couldn’t find a statistic, but I can tell you this – it’s a lot. According to The EPA, more than 2 billion books and 350 million magazines are published each year. The “greenest” way to read is definitely the library – but the second most sustainable way to read is to buy and sell used books.

This philosophy of buying used extends into many other aspects of your life. The Boyfriend and I rarely buy new clothes. Instead we shop at places like Buffalo Exchange, The Goodwill, and other used clothing stores. Buying used clothes can be fun and exciting, like being on your own personal treasure hunt. Brooklyn-based designer Jessi Arrington gave a TED talk on this great idea – check it out:

I also buy most of my housewares, furniture, and kitchen supplies used – again, at The Goodwill, and a few other local thrift stores. Last fall I bought a TV stand from Ikea and my friend joked that it was the first piece of new furniture I had ever bought – except once I thought about it, I realized she was right, and it wasn’t a joke. Every other piece of furniture I own was given to me by a friend or family member, found on freecycle, or bought secondhand.

In addition to reducing the amount of waste we create, buying used items saves us a lot of money. If you, like me and The Boyfriend, are affected by the current economic recession, or if you just want to save money, buying used is the way to go. Ma Ingalls would agree.

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