Imagine a world without transport, without cars, buses or aeroplanes. We are all reliant on some form of transport to take us to work, the supermarket, the gym, or on holiday. But how often can we cycle and leave the car at home? Walk instead of taking the bus? We increasingly live in a world where convenience is key. Meals pre-prepared for us, Amazon delivering orders the following day, an Uber taking us direct to our front door. How often do we consider the consequences of these transactions? When that television works without fault but we buy a new one with a larger screen. When we take the car to the express supermarket down the road or when we throw out food unnecessarily. Often, such actions go unchallenged because they make our lives easier, we become more efficient. We often forget or ignore the consequences that affect the world in which we live and thrive.
To that end, should we challenge ourselves? Challenge ourselves to debate our choices to consider the environment and live more sustainably. Some challenges occur in life without prior knowledge of their existence or planning. Others are carefully considered and relate to an aspect of our lives. For example, embarking on the challenge of living a healthier lifestyle. Deciding to run that marathon. Finding ways to help other people. The challenges we set ourselves are relative to an individual, the possibilities endless, and their difficulty variable.
365 DAYS WITHOUT MOTORISED TRANSPORT
For Camille, the challenge she set herself was to remove motorised transport from her life for 365 days. Come rain or shine (or snow), since January 2021, Camille has walked, cycled, or skied to reach her destination and back again. Forget cars, buses and aeroplanes. Imagine waking up to then cycle in the snow to get to work. Moreover, imagine the journey back home at the end of a long day. To Camille, however, “winter was actually (overall) not much different to the rest of the year” and ski pants and a jacket did the job of getting her to work warm and dry. As she recounts the experience of winter earlier this year in the French Alps, we can’t help but admire her adversity to the cold weather and how she overcame the harsh conditions! Despite the snow tyres on her bike, which provided extra grip on the road, on occasion she had to leave the bike at home and venture out with snowshoes. To put this into perspective, snowshoeing to work meant a 2-hour journey one way! Needless to say that touring became more of an activity to be enjoyed at the weekend.
We’d imagine that getting out and about in the snow on a bike or skis would be hard enough, but for Camille, the hardest part was promoting her challenge on social media which is “something I don’t take naturally to” she highlights. Publicising her efforts online to raise awareness and to gather support and funds was another challenge in itself for Camille. “I think it’s something I could have done a lot better” she confesses, “but doing the challenge alongside having a pretty full-on year meant that was unfortunately one of the first things I let slip”. With a baby on the way and buying a house, Camille’s determination to see the challenge through to the end is an inspiration to us all! Camille, we can forgive your absence on social media, especially now as you’re sharing your story.
So, what made Camille decide to embark on such a challenge? Well, “I thought it would be a great experiment to see how you could adapt a ‘normal’ life around cutting out an aspect of everyday life completely, which is known to be a major contributor to global warming” she explains. Her plan is to “inspire people to take bolder moves toward changing their lifestyles to align with the need for curbing global warming”. As we’re sure you’d agree, Camille’s challenge will not only highlight how we as individuals can reduce our dependency on motorised transport, but also raise money to benefit charities in the process.
Contributions made to Camille’s gofundmepage will be distributed amongst a number of charities and organisations, such as Montagne Verte, who are making strides in tackling the issues associated with global warming, raising awareness, changing both opinions and local/national policies for the better.
Camille’s experience over the past months has highlighted to herself and others that we can improve the way we use motorised transport, “whether it’s becoming a lot more conscientious about what we consider essential travel and being efficient in the way that we use cars, such as carpooling and avoiding multiple trips”. She emphasises how cycling has been “the perfect way to commute and travel around” this year, even touring with her bike to reach destinations further afield, with trips to Annecy, Bonneville, and St Nazaire on the West coast of France to visit her parents. However, with a reduced bus system during low season in and around the area, living in a resort can pose difficulties for inhabitants, who thus rely heavily on cars for transportation. There is a need to improve public transport in the region and discussions with local authorities and organisations are ongoing to allow for new infrastructure to be put in place, offering tourists and inhabitants the option to leave the car at home and venture out by other means that are kinder to the environment.
Whilst there are local and national initiatives to help reduce global warming, Camille highlights the need for us as individuals to change our own habits, including “cutting back more on meat consumption, being a lot more mindful about plastic and the quality of things we buy” to name a few. Even once the 365 days come to an end, Camille will continue to pedal from place to place as much as possible, only taking the bus when she needs to, and keeping her carbon footprint as low as possible. “It’s surprised me how much of my movements this year have felt pretty easy, it’s rarely felt like a chore, and it’s kept me fit”, Camille explains. “It’s forced me to try and slow down in many aspects of my life as well”. By embarking on this challenge Camille emphasises that quite often the technology and conveniences we have access to, which were invented to save us time, tend to make us over-efficient, super productive and therefore move at a pace that is unsustainable, both for ourselves and the planet.
Changing our habits to consider the environment or embarking on a challenge to help raise awareness and funds for environmental charities, such as Camille has done so naturally, will have a positive impact towards saving our planet. We each have our part to play.
We rely so heavily on technology, conveniences, and motorised transport in our lives, but we must remember that we also rely on our planet to live happily and healthily.
Words: Katie Rutherford