OPINION: Benefits of sustainable transportation transcend partisan politics

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"Girl Traveling Mountain Vacation" by Rawpixel Ltd is marked with CC0 1.0

Take a moment to think about your favorite childhood memory and the sights and smells, the people who are with you and the way it makes you feel.

Now flash forward to your favorite vacation memory. Think again about the sights and smells, the people who are with you and the way it makes you feel.

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Did your memories involve the outdoors and natural settings? There is a reason for that that I learned here in the region. A few years back, I attended a luncheon at the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority during National Tourism Week that included a terrific keynote address and breakout sessions with Joe Veneto, “The Opportunity Guy.”

In one of the sessions, he asked attendees to close their eyes and envision their favorite vacation memory. He went around the room and asked people to share their memories. Every one of the memories shared took place outdoors. Joe said studies have shown experiences that take place in nature have the most impact on us, sometimes rising to the level of spiritual or transformative.

Spirituality is intrinsically tied to nature. Every major world religion has some tenant of creation care and has gone on record with public statements about the need to curb global warming and climate change.

In this time of divisiveness, uncertainty and partisan politics, nature is the one thing that connects us all at our very core.

The impact nature has on our souls, our experiences and our memories and our calling as a human race to protect it, is one thing we can and should be able to agree on. The air we breathe does not know or care who we voted for and it not confined to political jurisdictions.

We at South Shore Clean Cities are nonpartisan and we do not lobby. We work instead to educate our elected officials on the opportunities and challenges surrounding sustainable transportation and how we can work together toward the common good.

Many of us are hungry for that peaceful, outdoor vacation feeling that creates lasting memories now more than ever after being in our homes for months and canceling planned trips due to the pandemic.

Our vacation memories in the outdoors likely were not of areas with pollution-filled skies or swimming in contaminated waters. They were likely of blue skies and crystal clear waters and white sand beaches.

One of the best ways to ensure we’ll be able to make those memories again for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren is to embrace sustainability each and every day. Our members and partners are doing just that, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 129,000 tons in 2019 alone. That’s the equivalent of saving 16.6 million gallons of gasoline and removing more than 32,000 passenger vehicles from the road for one year. They’re doing it by reducing idling, adopting alternative fuel vehicles and equipment, electric vehicles, alternative fueling stations and electric vehicle charging stations.

Their efforts are reducing dependence on imported oil, supporting American jobs and national energy security while improving air quality and the overall quality of life for all Americans. Not just the blue states or the red states – all Americans.

That is something we should all be able to support.

Remember, it’s never too late to begin your environmental legacy.

This column originally appeared in The Times of Northwest Indiana. Carl Lisek is executive director of South Shore Clean Cities and vice president of Legacy Environmental Services. The opinions are the writer’s.

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