Saturday, April 25, 2009

When Green Sprawls

For the last year and a half, Mike and I have lived in the upper northeast corner of Dupont Circle, a wonderful part of Washington DC, which has all the conveniences you can imagine in city living: a grocery store three blocks away, at least three dry cleaners within four blocks, three ice cream shops down the street I live on (this is crucial in the DC summertime), bars and restaurants galore starting a block away and continuing for many blocks in every direction around our apartment building, even a dog park across the street. We don't own a dog, mind you, but there's something so wonderfully cheerful about dog parks. All these happy dogs running in circles around each other, or free to dig in the dirt if they so choose. And the dog owners, standing around together, watching their dogs, making small talk, creating a sense of community without having to even try very hard.

I love the location we live in, but so does everyone else and thus it comes at a decent premium. Now that Mike and I are both in school, we've stopped going out as much as we used to, primarily due to the lack of time between work and school. I find myself barely leaving the apartment for entire weekends now, and yet we're still paying the premium for our location. So, we've decided that we'd like to stretch our legs a little and find a new place that will accommodate the professional student lifestyle a little better. You know: slightly bigger, perhaps with room for a desk or two, and not necessarily in the center of the city since we're not using that anymore. After the last month of apartment hunting, we've finally just chosen a place this weekend. It's definitely big enough for two desks, and it is definitely outside of the city center-- but it's still very accessible to the city because it's right next to a metro stop, and actually sits on two different metro lines, so we'll have options in terms of mass transit.

But why am I blogging about this and what does it have to do with sincere green?

Well first of all, the apartment we're moving into is both bigger and has central AC, a dishwasher and a washer and dryer. You can bet that the nineteenth-century building we live in now has none of these things. The prospect of having them soon is both exciting for the modern conveniences, and terrifying because I can feel my carbon footprint doubling just thinking about it. So it will be interesting to see if I can still manage to justify calling my lifestyle green after the simple move of changing apartments.

Secondly, the idea of urban sprawl is readily on my mind as I make the move from a high-compact city to a far less dense suburban area. We don't have a car and will still rely on the metro to get from place to place, but suddenly we'll rely on the metro a lot more than we do now, because everything I walk to now will soon be a few metro stops away at its closest. Mass transit is good, but walking is better, so I'm increasing my carbon footprint there too. We're certainly hoping, of course, to explore our new highly-residential neighborhood and find the staples we need so that we will be able to buy milk without relying on the metro, but at this point I'm not sure what we'll find.

And so, I'm looking at this move as a case study on being green in the suburbs. Wish me luck.


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