Carpooling Safari

Suellen, far right, and her carpool group.

In 2004, when the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research was moved from the Zoo to its new site at the Safari Park, my life was changed. First off, my work space tripled! In the Genetics Division, we went from a very small tissue-culture lab to a state-of-the-art laboratory. It was really wonderful, something we dreamed of for many years. The one issue I did not think of was my commute to and from work. I went from a 10-mile drive (many years I rode my moped to work) to a 35-mile drive each way; from a 10-minute drive home to a 40-minute drive home.

Also, I had to think of the price of gas and wear and tear I would put on my car. The solution to my woes was carpooling. As someone working in conservation, of course I knew how much this benefits our environment. San Diego Zoo Global employees have saved over 4,700 gallons of gas and have prevented 98,000 pounds of CO2 from entering our atmosphere, and our employees have taken 8,100 trips not driving alone while commuting to work, according to the iCommute web site. Of course, these estimates are low, as many of us have been carpooling for years, and this data was not always complied.

I found out who at the Institute lived near me or who drove the same route, and a carpool group was formed. I now carpool daily with two people, and three other people carpool with us at different times (one seasonal employee and two that carpool only one day a week). It is great! With all of us working in different divisions, this gives us a time to catch up. Usually we talk about current events or our families or even sing, and any of the small daily stress from the work day just melts away. We do stuff like celebrate birthdays with coffee and scones on our drive to work or stop on the way home for a glass of wine (of course, we always have a designated driver!). The best part is the fun and laughter we have driving to and from work; this makes the time go so much faster.

We are not the only carpool group at the Institute. Usually at the end of the day you can see many people at the front lobby meeting up with their carpool groups. Do you carpool?

Suellen Charter is a research coordinator for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Read her previous post, Ear Notches: Trash or Treasure?

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