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Walking to Work, One Employee's Journey

April 03, 2014

By: Jan Tarnowski, Jan Tarnowski works for Darden’s Guest Relations Department and has been with the company for eight and a half years. She is a proud Sustainability Team member and advocate.

Walking to Work, One Employee's Journey

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I was so excited when I learned about the location of our new Restaurant Support Center (RSC) almost five years ago because it’s just two miles from my home. I immediately started making plans to walk to work a few times a week. I knew it would be a great way for me to get daily exercise, set a good example for my kids and, of course, save gas and money. It’s been a little over four years since I first started walking and biking to work and I still look forward to it.

A few years ago when Darden started Sustainability Teams, I was excited to be part of a company that encourages employees to be sustainable at work and at home in the ways that best fit into our lives. Since joining the team, I’ve been given a platform to share information with coworkers about different ways to commute to work. Our Sustainability Teams at the RSC and in our restaurants are self-selected employees who are passionate about sustainability and who help lead and innovate everyday green efforts for our employees.

Colleagues are often surprised to learn that I walk or bike to work on a regular basis. It makes me feel good when coworkers ask how they can do the same thing. I feel like I’m breaking down the barrier and showing people that walking or biking anywhere, even to work, is possible. If walking isn’t an option, I let them know that our Restaurant Support Center offers reserved parking for carpool vehicles, hybrid cars and electric car charging stations. Along with the nearby bus stop, walking paths and on-site bike racks, everyone has plenty of choices if they decide to “green” their commute.

If you’ve been thinking about greening your commute, here’s a few tips to get you started:

1. Find a solution that works best for you and your lifestyle. There are so many ways to green your commute. If walking doesn’t work, maybe carpooling, mass transit, biking, ride sharing or an alternative fuel vehicle will work. It’s important to find the option that best suits you.

2. It’s okay to skip a day. We all have enough pressure in our lives without adding more. If your green commute isn’t going to work out one day, don’t force it. Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate with my commute and I need to drive in order to stay dry and that’s okay. Just do what you can, when you can.

3. Backpacks are a beautiful thing. Nowadays backpacks come in so many designs and colors that it’s easy to find one that fits your personal style. If you’re going to bike or walk to work, pick up a backpack and use it instead of a purse. You can pack an extra pair of shoes or even clothes to change into.

4. Birds of a feather… Start talking to your coworkers to let them know that you’re looking to green your commute. You’ll probably find others who want to participate. This is a great way to find a walking or carpooling buddy.

5. Safety first. Green commuting is a great way to save money and do something good for the environment but it should never be to your detriment. If you’re going to walk or bike to work, don’t walk in the dark, always keep your cell phone handy and be sure to wear all of the proper safety gear, including bright or illuminated clothing, and a helmet if biking.

Going green should be something that is fun and makes you feel good. There are so many options out there. It’s pretty easy to find something that appeals to you. For me, it was walking and biking to work and I’m happy to work for a company that encourages me to share my passion with others.

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