Small steps to sustainability

One of the wish list items I was looking for when I chose my most recent home was a walkable neighbourhood, and I’m pleased to say I got it. Since moving here I barely use my car. I walk to the corner grocer, I walk to visit friends or to my favourite coffee haunt, I walk to the produce market on Sundays and five days a week I walk to work.

The weekday walk to work quickly became something I love, even in the midst of winter on those chilly Hobart mornings. Walking into town watching the sun rise, drinking in the peace of the dawn is a truly beautiful thing. I don’t even mind so much when it’s raining (unless it’s a proper downpour, in which case I might wimp out and take the bus): with a rain cover on my back pack and a waterproof coat I quite happily trundle along. The only really unpleasant weather is when there’s a freezing wind blasting down from the Mountain and I haven’t got a decent coat.

The fallen

Atmospheric autumn

It’s a 35 minute walk to the office, if I don’t get distracted or decide to explore a different way. Just enough time to give me all those health benefits the “find thirty” people are banging on about, twice a day each work day. I’m getting regular gentle exercise (particularly important at the moment, with a nasty knee injury keeping me from bush walking and other more intensive activities) as part of my daily routine, but the walk also gives me time to calm my always-busy mind and take a look at the world around me.

There’s always something to see, even walking the same route most days. In Autumn there was the long, golden light and the falling of the leaves, and the discovery of local fig and apple trees ripe for the foraging. In winter I enjoyed the sparkling frosts and mountain snow and watching the city wake and shake itself from slumber. Now it’s spring I’m seeing this little city bloom and the smiles return to people’s sun-warmed faces. There’s always another little detail to notice and I try to remember to take my little pocket camera with me to capture some of the beauty I see.


One morning in winter

Not only do I have time this way to stop and smell the roses (and I do love burying my face right into the petals while I deeply inhale), I have time to put my thoughts in order, to properly wake up before work in the mornings and to relax each evening before I get home. It’s wonderfully good for my mental health, this walking business. I also get time to notice what’s going on in my little city: to see the new businesses opening and, all too often, the shops that have closed (last week the butcher specialising in local free-range meat who always waved as I passed, now another mainland chain butchery – please support your sustainable local businesses!).

I walk to work. I smile at the people I pass on the way and mostly they smile back. I keep pace with the changes around me and I notice the weather and the seasons more. I appreciate the days when the sun shines and the breeze is gentle, and I feel good about myself for still walking when the weather’s less kind. I care for my body, mind and spirit while saving money and stepping a little more lightly on the planet at the same time. That’s the very essence of sustainability!


Sensual spring

How do you make your way to work each day? Can you find a lower-impact route that fits with your daily routine?

Before I moved here I took the bus to work and used the time to listen to podcasts, alighting a stop or two early to get a bit of a walk in. For previous jobs I’ve taken trains, caught ferries and cycled, and yes, even done the dreadful thing and driven where a viable alternative could not be found, though I car-pooled when I could: every bit helps!

If it’s too far to walk or public transport’s just not your thing, can you dust off your bike and cycle on in? It’s Ride2Work day tomorrow, the perfect time to give cycling a try!

Mostly though, I have to recommend it: walk where you can. You might just enjoy it.

7 Comments on “Small steps to sustainability

  1. I loved being able to walk to work and my goal is to live again in a place within 30min from work. I’ve pretty much always taken public transport otherwise. I’ve never understood the desire to drive into the city. Being stuck in traffic, not able to read/zone out… misery!

    • I’m so glad I decided to take this place based on it’s location and not my first impressions! I never expected to like walking everywhere quite this much. Poor car only gets used to drive to taiko training at the moment – will have to take it out on a road trip sometime soon just to give the engine some love (and stock up on some good photos).

      Your old place in the inner city was pretty damn sweet. I hope you find something similar again soon. And yes, if PT is a viable option, who would you choose to drive? It’s so much more relaxing to catch up on reading/music/podcasts and let someone else deal with the traffic!

  2. Having serious Hobart envy! Ant and I often talk about moving down there, you’re so lucky.

    I’ve always lived in a village situation – close to work, pub ;), shops etc. I use my poor old neglected car once a week when we have stuff further afield to do but other than that, I love to walk around my neighbourhood.

    When I worked at PA Hospital a couple of years back, I used to walk to and from work all the time, around a 35 minute walk like yours. The worst bit was coworkers regularly driving past and offering me a drive home and me explaining for the millionth time I liked walking! aaargh.

    • You should have envy, this place is amazing, despite the ribbing mainlanders give us. =op I’d never be able to afford a place this close to the city in Brisbane!

      When I lived in the inner west of Bris I didn’t have a car: didn’t need one. Between public transport, my bike and my feet I could get everywhere I needed to go. Then rents went through the roof and I moved to Hendra…

      I’m really pleased to hear you’ve managed a walkable lifestyle in my old town. I remember once walking home across Coronation Drive in Auchenflower, at a stand-still with traffic, carrying a punnet of strawberries I’d bought from a co-worker, and offering them to stuck motorists. I wonder if I gave any of them pause for thought that day?

      Stay awesome, please. =o)

  3. I love this post.
    We are lucky enough to live right in the centre of a village for the first time in… well, ever in Auckland for me?… and so we have everything we need within a short walk: gas station, coffee shop, grocerette, money machine, pizzeria, bottleshop, fish and chips and a butcher.

    My work is about 2.5km away but I tend to drive or get dropped off. mostly because of the horrible weather and horizontal rain we have had for almost a year, the need to drive around for meetings and the fact its going to be half an hour I don’t see my babies in the morning or evening. Maybe in summer though, when the kids are back to getting up early (they are Daylight Savings adjusted at the moment ;)) and the weather is better.

    • Thank you! I’m glad you like it. 🙂

      The last place I lived was close to nothing except the bus into town. It was typical Australian suburbia: no shops, no services, just quarter-acre blocks of domesticity. Although the bush was close and it was pretty, I had to drive absolutely everywhere except right into the city (hooray for the bus). Years ago, when I was in Brisbane before the real-estate boom, I lived in a walkable neighbourhood and I’ve missed it ever since.

      I hope you get to enjoy your village for much time to come, and don’t feel guilty about driving to work (after all, more time with the kids is important), just be mindful about tying it in with other car-based errands and perhaps see if there’s someone you can collect along the way. I drove to work every day for years when there was no practical alternative (sure, I could take the bus, but that’s a 50 minute bus trip or a 10 minute drive…)

      As for daylight savings, ick! My body clock still hates me right now and I don’t have kids. You are amazing.

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