‘Really?!,’ you say, ‘Everyone knows that Christmas and sales shopping can be an absolute nightmare, especially the traffic and carparks.’
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself WHY?
At this time of year, everyone can be a bit stressed.
We’re tired from working all year…and we’re trying to wrap things up before Christmas so we can end the year well…while attending a crazy number of extra social events.
And even if we were really organised and bought presents well in advance, there are some things – like food – that can only be bought at the last minute.
So we are rushing and frazzled. (And, more often than not in the Southern Hemisphere, hot.)
And in this wonderful state, most of us end up going to the same places at the same time (especially lunchtime)…
Most of us jumping in our cars without a second thought.
And that means heavy traffic and full carparks (and crowds when we get there)…which means that it takes longer to do our shopping…
Which leads to more frustration…
And more greenhouse gas emissions (because our cars are running very inefficiently with this stop-start, short-trip driving).
And it’s not much different for the Boxing Day/post-Christmas/January sales (or Black Friday sales, if you’re in the US). We might be dressed more casually and more in holiday mode…but shopping can be crowded, tiring and stressed – especially if we’re racing around trying to get the bargains we seek.
So, what about ALTERNATIVES?
Here are some ideas to get you thinking (and, yes, I know that sometimes using a car is the only practical option):
Walk or cycle to your local shops. You will avoid using fuel …and your body will get some exercise. 😉 If it’s hot, remember to go early in the morning. You can bring your purchases home in:
- bags (if it’s only a short distance)
- personal shopping trolley (great at any time you have heavy or bulky shopping to do) or
- bicycle panniers.
Use public transport. A bus, train, tram or ferry uses less fuel per passenger than most personal vehicles.
Use a taxi. You will avoid carpark hassles…and cause fewer greenhouse gas emissions, because taxi engine are run efficiently (because they are running all the time and are therefore hot).
- Pre-booking the taxi can save you waiting.
Try to travel in off-peak times.
- Shopping early usually means it’s easier to find a place to park because most people shop later in the day…except on Boxing Day (or Black Friday in the US)
- On Christmas Eve, sometimes it’s easier shortly before closing…but you may have trouble finding what you want in stock.
Drive as smoothly as possible. Go easy on the brake and accelerator pedals. Hard accelerating results in higher fuel consumption than a moderately-paced acceleration. More of this is in my post Short car trips = extra fuel.
Go shopping with family, friends or neighbours. Actually, I don’t mean that you have to do the actual shopping with them (which could be tricky if you’re buying presents…or it could simply add to your stress ;)), I mean filling your car with people who want to go to the same shopping centre (yes, carpooling!)
Plan your shopping so that you do several things in one trip, rather than lots of small trips. More details are in my post Short car trips = extra fuel.
Avoid using the air-conditioning unless it’s really hot.
- Opening windows and running the fan usually cools you down pretty well…unless you’re in heavy traffic or getting sunburnt.
- If you’ve parked outside, taking a few minutes to put up some good window shades – it can reduce the inside temperature of your car significantly, as well as saving you burning your hands on the steering wheel. I find Springshades great for front and back. (Yes, back : I insert them in the grooves between the cabin roof and the back window, and the hat shelf and the back window). They are very quick to install and remove. But any close-fitting silver-sided shade will do. And for the side windows, positioning the shade so it gets jammed in the top of the door when you close it saves the shade dropping off in the heat. 😉
Order your purchases in advance. Then all you have to do is a quick trip to collect them. Your shop may even offer parcel pick-up for your order, so that you don’t even have to park. 🙂
Now that you have read this, what do you think is your best, most sustainable transport option for shopping this festive and holiday season? Share your thoughts in the Reply box below.
Till next time…be gentle to yourself and our world!