I never say I’m perfect.
I think we’ve all got principles, which tend to flex when we’re asked to alter our lives for them: like a vegan sneaking a cheeky chicken parmesan when no one’s looking.
For me, I believe human-caused climate change is an existential threat towards our continued existence as a species and we need quick and radical reform to stop the worst effects of what’s already happening.
But that belief runs up against my love for cars.
I’ve been a car guy since my nana gave me a VHS tape with an episode of Top Gear recorded onto it.
However, behind my passion is the nagging knowledge that not only will fossil fuel cars have to go away but for the overall health of the world, phasing them out should have started decades ago.
I could just say “No ethical consumption under capitalism”, blow a raspberry and keep on driving - but this phrase always feels like a cop-out people say when their beliefs run up against a wall of convenience.
Recently though, my hand has been somewhat forced into a change, as I’ve had to start cycling to work.
I used to bike to school every day after my mum and sister refused to stop playing the soundtrack to Mamma Mia! on car rides, and getting back into it as an adult has reminded me why I loved it so much.
The feeling of peace for one, a bit of time to get my thoughts in order for the day without the rude interruption of Meryl Streep crooning Money, Money, Money.
Taking a slower mode of transport to work lets you soak in the early morning visuals too, the glassy surface of the awa (river) and the sunrise making the sky look like an oil painting.
Exercise also wakes me up, and as a person who doesn’t drink coffee, it means I’m a little less zombified in the morning, to the relief of my co-workers I’m sure.
So it’s been a move for good for me, my bank account and the planet in a micro-sense, but it has also come with the confirmation of how I could have been doing this from day one.
I’ve known the distance between home and work doesn’t justify a car ride, but the pull of convenience was just too strong.
However, it’s also given me some ideas on how we can make our cities less reliant on the internal combustion engine - and it all revolves around that word again: convenience.
I think most people drive to work not because it’s the cheapest or safest or least stressful option, because clearly it isn’t.
Rather, it’s the most convenient, because we’ve constructed our society in a way where cars appear to be the dominant species.
So while making those cars powered by electricity instead of dinosaur juice is a good start, if we want to truly change things, we should look past individual change and look for ways to make environmentally-friendly transport easier for everyone to access.
Some of these will require large amounts of political effort, but other ways could be implemented relatively quickly, like making bike lanes wider and safer so it doesn’t feel like you’re about to get splattered across the tarmac by some jacked-up monstrosity the moment you roll onto the road.
Providing better infrastructure for bikes, like more bike racks - especially in busy places like shopping centres - would be a great help.
Why not go even further and introduce something like the Clean Car Rebate for bikes? Because they’re as green as you can get for transportation, the only emissions that come from me cycling are sweat and swears directed at ute and SUV drivers acting like they own the road.
While some of these changes could come quickly, I doubt they’d come easy, especially with the reality-averse pockets in our society, but good things don’t usually come easy - and the more we do something, the easier it gets - whether it’s cycling to work, or reestablishing the country’s rail network.
Maybe if this happens I could keep my car too, though I promise I’d only use it for special occasions.