On Monday I read a list over at Simple Mom of 40 things you can do to be a good steward of the Earth was listed. I was amazed to see how many of the things I do “always,” “often” or “sometimes.” I even walk to pick up Sean from pre-school when the weather is nice–a 20 minute walk each way.
One thing I have to admit though, I’m guilty of being decidedly NOT ”Earth Friendly” on. That thing?
I drive my older kids to school about 2-3 times per week rather than letting them ride the bus.
Which really, is SO not Earth friendly! I mean really…I drive 1.2 miles each way, only to sit with my engine idling in the school drop off circle for about 5 minutes. My minivan supposedly gets about 20 miles per gallon “city,” but my goodness, what does that high ratio of idling time do to the mileage? It must send it through the roof!
So if out of 180 days in the school year I’m driving my kids to school half of those days, that’s 90 days. 2.4 miles per day for a total of 216 miles, or somewhere over 10 gallons of gas–possibly pushing as high as 15 with all of that idle time. Not to mention the wear and tear on my van…and do I really have the time to be doing this when my kids could just walk to the bus stop?
And how much gas would be used for my kids to take the bus? Well according to the folks over at Yahoo Answers, a school bus gets about 10 miles per gallon–so would use about 30 gallons of gas (keeping in mind that the bus does not go directly to school, but rather wraps through a couple of developments picking up other kids after picking up mine). BUT…with that 30 gallons of gas, the bus can transport up to about 60 students, rather than the 3 that I am transporting. So my kids’ portion of that gas is only about 1.5 gallon!
And the sad thing is the number of parents who drop their kids off EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. And pick them up after school. Assuming they have the same distance to drive as I do (most of them probably have MORE), they are easily burning 40-60 gallons of gas per school year when the school bus would use less than 2 gallons per child.
Why do they do it? I haven’t got a clue. When I was a kid, the only kids who got dropped off for school were the ones bringing a tuba or some such to school. Everyone else took the bus or walked (which is a whole ‘nother issue–my district is “100% bussing”–even for kids who live right across the street from the school!).
Why do I drive my kids to school? Well because the school started offering a breakfast back when I was due with Sophie. And at that point, the conveniance of having them eat there, coupled with the price, made it attractive to me to have them eat breakfast at school. Initially I just sent my kids on the bus and had them eat at school, but they eventually told me that if they went on the bus they weren’t getting the “hot breakfast” or milk–but rather a bagged breakfast with no drink. Only if I drop my kids off at school earlier than the bus will get them there do they get the full breakfast. So now they go a couple of days a week when they like the school’s breakfast menu better than my breakfast menu (and yes, I do have a menu posted!). I guess I should at least check with one of my neighbors (who is among the “every day” crowd) and see if they want to send their son to carpool with us on the days I drive.