Last week while in Montreal area, I made the conscious decision to avoid being in the city during the climate rally there. Blegh, I thought to myself, that sounds like it will be terrible to get around and for traffic. Which is… kind of the whole point, I know.

With young Greta Thunberg and her scathing UN speech on my mind, combined with local CBC election coverage of environmental issue platforms, and a coincidental couple of podcasts I listened to in a row (theme unplanned) on the impact of different diet types, how recycling in the US is broken, and what choices people are making to be greener in everyday life, the fact that I am currently a giant gas consumer does not escape me in the course of most hours.

Since getting my van serviced in advance of this trip, I have put more than 4000 miles on the odometer. While it’s better than I anticipated, I’ve been getting between 24-28 mpg when I figured it (admittedly have not even attempted in Canada- between Canadian dollars and liters, I don’t even know where to start), which is not great. According to whatever carbon footprint site I just used, each 5000 miles in my van is about 1.81 tons of CO2 emissions. I have no real sense of what that really means. Most of my cursory googling results in giant nationwide numbers, human averages per country, art installations, but not something more graspable to my own brain. The site did say that if I wanted to offset this emission it would be about $16-20 depending on how I wanted to do it. Perhaps I’ll take stock after my travels and plant the equivalent in trees. Once I have an income again that is…

I hate to admit to myself that this was my caveat. It is currently more important to me based on this instinct to conserve finances to prioritize being able to continue and complete my planned journey rather than factor this into my allotted funds right now as a consistent and concurrent constraint.

To be fair, I don’t have a house full of appliances. I have few electronics with me on my trip, and use solar changing when possible. I don’t waste a lot of food. I use reusable containers when possible (those zipper bags are fabulous and well used, Andrea!), only get plastic bags now when I need trash bags, and have my own metal straws, reusable water bottles and coffee cups, etc. These easy little things, of course. My meat-free diet is up to 50% less impactful to the environment, and with no fridge I’m eating more vegan on the road than I did at home, but still have the occasional eggs and cheese. I assume I’ll be flying less than my usual trips while on the road, but who knows. I collect my grey water and trash to dispose of properly, recycle (though now question whether this is helpful in the places I visit), use eco-friendly soaps if near waterways just in case…

In any event, the choice to be so frequently on the road weighs heavy sometimes, and is a nagging voice when otherwise overjoyed to be taking in the natural beauty of a hilltop, stream, ocean, or forest. But for now, I tell myself that this compromise is one I can live with provided I don’t lose this nagging voice.

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