Two and a half weeks ago, my brother and his family were going through a tough time, not the least of which was that both of their cars died. I told them they could borrow my car for as long as they need it.
That sounds generous, but honestly, I love the excuse to prove to my husband we can be a one-car family. We absolutely do not need two cars. My husband I live two miles from work, and we work in the same place, during the same times.
And my car was making my life miserable, because …
1. You miss out on looking really cool riding your bike to the office.
2. You keep using the car when you have it, because it’s there.
We found a place to live walking distance from work. I have two awesome bikes and the bus runs right by my house. But I never once took advantage of any of these things until I had to.
3. You feel guilty about adding to your carbon footprint.
Most ozone pollution is caused by motor vehicles. Even though I don’t drive my car, it’s not something I need to do. I estimate that driving my car 3,000 miles per year adds 1 carbon tonne every year. Curious about your carbon footprint? Here’s a calculator.
4. You need to go to the gym.
Even taking the bus, I was getting more exercise walking to the bus stop than I was driving my car. Commuting is a part of life and my commute is now an opportunity to energize me instead of stealing my energy. Long commutes steal from the time you’d be at the gym, making your own dinner, and getting enough sleep.
5. You suck at being on time.
Remember my resolution? It’s not an issue anymore. (Most of the time.) Because the time I leave is no longer flexible — if I’m not making the bus schedule, I gotta walk.
6. You miss out on spending time with friends.
Thanks to all my super awesome co-workers who have offered me rides home, especially Ronzio. It’s nice to catch up after work. Also, I owe you a coffee.
7. You spend money you don’t need to spend.
Owning a car is expensive. The cost of gas vs. the cost of bus fare is probably a wash, and I don’t think we’d save much on our car insurance going down to one car, but on repairs? Taxes? That’s expensive. And if we had to take out a car loan to replace this car? No thanks.
8. You could sleep better.
OK, I haven’t been sleeping great anyway — I have a 9-month-old, remember? — but I sure sleep a lot better when I get exercise every day.
9. You bring all the things with you. Because you can.
I had like, four bags that I took in with me to work, because I’d have my running clothes and my laptop and my pump and my lunch. And when I’d go to the grocery store, I’d buy whatever I felt like, because what I could carry home was never a concern. But since I started walking, I’ve had to downsize to just the essentials, and it feels so much more manageable.
10. You miss the opportunity to model environmentally responsible behavior for your kids.
Now every time I come home from work, Tony and Lissie are standing at the front door watching me walk up the street. I love seeing her realize it’s me coming and she waves her little arms and starts bouncing up and dad in her dad’s arms. That’s the best.
When Lissie is ready for school, she’s going to walk to school (it’s about a quarter mile up the street). Even in the winter. Even in a ton of snow. And she’ll do it because she’s seen her mom doing it, too.
Getting rid of the car hasn’t been without its difficulties. The biggest one is that in order to make it to work on time, I need to leave about 20 minutes earlier, which means we have to get up earlier so Lissie will go down for a nap earlier. That doesn’t always happen — and the worst feeling is leaving my husband (who is working from home in the morning) with an awake and possibly upset baby.
But we have to do it, and most of the time, we’ve pulled it off. And my life and the environment has been better for it.