Walkin’ the walk

When I moved to Calgary from Halifax to work for Shell Canada, my friends told me to prepare for cold weather.

“”You better buy a car! You’ll never survive walking to work every day in Calgary!” they said.

I had two words for them: challenge accepted.

I chose an apartment in downtown Calgary close to the Shell Centre building and vowed to walk wherever I needed to go. Whether I was going to the grocery store on 8th street, my favorite restaurant on 17th Ave. or my friends’ house in East Village — I walked.

My decision to walk, however, wasn’t just about proving my friends wrong. It was about making a commitment to reduce my carbon footprint and energy consumption on a daily basis, maintaining my traditions and values about environmental conservation, and doing my part to protect our planet’s future.

By 2050, nine billion people are expected to live on the Earth and global energy demand could rise by 80 per cent from the numbers recorded in the year 2000. This global increase in energy demand and consumption will have a monumental environmental impact. Therefore, it is our responsibility to reduce our own carbon footprint and teach future generations to do the same.

I admit some days, walking is not easy. The first time I experienced -35° Celsius weather, I cursed out loud and nearly called in sick to work. Coming from the Atlantic Coast, I could count on one hand the number of days our temperature was below -30° Celsius. But, I pushed on. I went back inside, added a few more layers, gave myself some words of encouragement and headed out the door.

Now, just shy of one year since I moved to Calgary, I feel like I’ve achieved my goal to walk as much as possible. The way I see it, if I can make it through these frosty temperatures to reduce my impact on the environment, most of you can too.

So you want to walk the walk? Here are some tips:

– Invest in some good sneakers and boots for your daily walks.
Buy a small, hiking style backpack that will allow you to easily carry items.
– If you don’t have an iPod, MP3 player or any other music player, buy one! Music will help you enjoy those long walks.
– Protect yourself from harsh conditions — even if that means wearing the neon-coloured scarf with tassels your nanna made for you.Install a GPS application on your cell phone to help you navigate the city.
– When you and your friends or family are making plans for the weekend, suggest activities that are nearby.
– Remind yourself that by choosing to walk, you are reducing your daily energy consumption and helping to protect the environment for future generations.