By Patrick Kampert
Cleaning up the environment is hard but rewarding work. But what if you could celebrate Earth Day by helping prevent the environment from getting messed up in the first place?
It's easier than you think, and it's something every kid can do. Ride your bike more, ride in the car less. You'd be following in the path of Colton and Grant S., two brothers from Oak Park, Ill., who have been biking a lot for the last six years.
"Every mile you bike instead of going by car prevents one pound of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere," says Colton, 14.
We checked with an expert and found that Colton's right. Jennifer Johnson, who works on global warming and energy for the Sierra Club environmental group, says the figure is 1.12 pounds per mile per car. The average sport-utility vehicle, she says, emits 1.65 pounds of carbon dioxide per mile. "U.S. cars and light trucks alone emit more carbon dioxide than every country in the world except China, Russia and Japan."
Colton says he and his brother didn't set out to become biking crusaders.
"Bikes were originally a way for us to get to local libraries," he says. "We still do that, but we're going farther and farther, and it's now a way of life."
The boys average 1,800 miles a year on their bikes. They recently went past the 10,000-mile mark, so they've saved 5 tons of carbon dioxide from polluting the air.
Grant, 11, likes biking because "it's slower and you can stop anytime you want to." Colton says biking lets them "see all the scenery." Besides, he adds, "The car is a bit stuffy and boring. With biking, you're actually interactive."
© 2001, Chicago Tribune.
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.