Five hundred and twenty

A month in a car

Having spent a year doing monthly experiments, I am hyper-aware of other people’s thirty day challenges.  Isn’t the saying that it takes 30 days to break or form a habit?  There are plenty of exercise, smoking, eating a certain way, reading, etc. challenges out there.   Trying to do something for a month is a manageable goal that is easier than committing to a change “forever”.  By the time you get to the end, you are in a different routine and the new change is normal.  I experienced that during my year.  There’s always an arc: the beginning is exciting and a little apprehensive; the middle is the hump you have to get over to continue; and the end is where you reap the benefits.

Although these personal tests are important, what really fascinates me right now is people who are doing extreme trials to raise awareness for a particular cause.  I was skimming through the Metro free newspaper the other day while on the bus to Montreal to see my boyfriend (he’s still working there), and I came across an article about a 6 foot 3 inch, 240 pound, 22 year-old man who lived in a mid-sized hybrid car for a month.  Tanner Zurkoski slept, ate, practiced “car yoga”, called into restaurants and asked them to serve him outside, raced bicycles, and tried to live his life all out of his car.  He could only leave the car to shower, change and use the washroom.  His goal was to highlight the length of time people in the Greater Toronto Area spend in their cars commuting.  “The average Torontonian spends 80 minutes a day commuting in their car.  That adds up to about a month every year,” according to  The stunt was sponsored by Evergreen for their MOVE Transportation Exhibit.

Tanner Zurkoski stands next to the car he called “home” for the past month with his new set of wheels—a bike courtesy of Curbside Cycle in Toronto, ON (Photo: Evergreen)

The interesting thing with this experiment, though, is that the result for Zurkoski was not good.  He gained weight, it was long and hot, his relationship with his girlfriend ended, his social life deteriorated, he had to see a clinical psychologist for road rage, and he had a hard time sleeping.  It’s a little like that documentary Super Size Me, where Morgan Spurlock ate McDonald’s food three times per day for thirty days and showed the detrimental effects to his physical and psychological health.  Both are good causes to raise awareness for.  As I’ve talked about many times before, there are so many better (healthier, better for the environment) alternatives to fast food and car commuting.

I found the whole experiment interesting, although it sounded more like Zurkoski was depressed about the experience than gained anything from it.  I guess that was the point – that being a month in your car a year can cause serious problems in your life and that something must be done about the traffic in the GTA.

I personally prefer to do experiments I can learn from and will help me develop skills that I can continue to use.  But maybe I’m being selfish?  I guess my year was more about changing me than changing the world.  Now that I’ve worked on me, maybe it’s time I do a stunt to raise awareness for something else?

After I read the article, I did some research and found more on Tanner Zurkoski’s progress on here:
The Beginning – ready for the challenge
Day 11 – feeling good, enjoying himself, getting into a routine
Two Weeks – struggling with road rage
Three Weeks – wants to be out of the car
The End – happy to be out of the car

And click here for a video from the CBC.