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Reducing Car Use - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Reducing Car Use
Yesterday I was out of the house much of the day, so I'm catching up on "Save the World Wednesdays." This week's challenge:
For one full day this week, don't use (or ride in) a car. That's right ... leave the car at home and either walk, ride a bicycle or take public transportation (or even ... stay home). One full day ... 24 hours ... no car.

OR ... if you are already car free, write a post about not using a car. Include such topics as how to make it work, drawbacks and solutions, and why it's better for the environment.

We used to go into town every day. We can't afford to do that anymore. So, now we have two days per week for shopping and errands, usually Monday and Friday. Sometimes we add social trips, usually on Saturday or Sunday. About once a month we make it up to the big farmer's market in Champaign, which is on Saturday mornings. On a typical week, we drive on less than half the days.

This has its ups and downs. It limits my access to the post office, which I need for work; but as more and more publishers switch to electronic submissions, that problem shrinks. It is much less of an issue now than just two or three years ago. We also have more time to do things at home, such as writing and yardwork.

If we could afford to go out more, we probably would. But I'd consider keeping one day a week for staying at home; it's a useful contribution to reducing greenhouse gases and fossil fuel dependency. (Because we live in a rural area, it is not possible for us to be completely car-free.)

Do you have days when you don't use your car(s)?

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19 comments or Leave a comment
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: July 9th, 2009 06:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Until this last month, it was very unlikely that I would leave the house on most Saturdays and Sundays. However, now that I've joined a fitness center, I am making a point of going to exercise on the weekend.

(And no, I can't just walk to the fitness center; it's (a) farther than I can walk in a reasonable amount of time and (b) along moderately high-traffic roads with no sidewalk and no shoulder. I suppose I could walk around my neighborhood instead of going to the fitness center, but I'm also supposed to do weight training every other day. Also, when I'm walking on my own rather than on the elliptical trainer, I tend to amble and don't get my heart rate up.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 9th, 2009 08:32 pm (UTC) (Link)


That's probably a good trade, all told.
lord_caramac From: lord_caramac Date: July 9th, 2009 07:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
I haven't even got a car, never had one, and I don't even know how to drive.

But then again, I live in the very centre of a big European city...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 9th, 2009 08:15 pm (UTC) (Link)


You are lucky. Over the last 50 or so years, most of America has been designed to require car use. Some cities still have walkable neighborhoods, though, and interest is growing.
ideealisme From: ideealisme Date: July 10th, 2009 12:57 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

my boyfriend was in Florida and he observed that "nobody walks anywhere". He found it difficult to walk from place to place himself, partly because of the heat and partly because it wasn't designed for it.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 10th, 2009 03:17 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Yes, I have friends in Florida who have said as much. That, and the chance of encountering large alligators sunning themselves on pavement. And the "lawn" being a 3-inch-high jungle that wants to rip the meat from your bones if you touch it.
xjenavivex From: xjenavivex Date: July 9th, 2009 07:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
We usually shoot for one weekend day. I have to commute during the week. I hope to be totally stay at home Sunday.
capricorn01984 From: capricorn01984 Date: July 9th, 2009 07:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
My husband and I just moved to Carrboro, NC which is a close neighbor to Chapel Hill where my hubby is an environmental engineering doctoral student. The public transport is great here and we can use the bus much of the time and plan to attempt to do so. We are close to things so if we do have to use the car, we aren't going very far.

I'd like to get to the point where the car only need be used 3 to 4 days a week if that. And good part is, we aren't locked in a rural area which would personally drive us nuts. LOL

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 9th, 2009 07:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

Good for you!

That sounds like a nice situation for you.

Different people thrive in different environments. I don't do well in urban settings. That's limiting in some ways -- I don't have access to public transportation -- but very convenient in others, like having plenty of space to grow herbs and fruit.
capricorn01984 From: capricorn01984 Date: July 9th, 2009 09:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Good for you!

I love visiting the country and feel the world needs all types. Coutry Pagan City Pagan... I'm am somewhat in betweenish LOL

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 9th, 2009 09:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Good for you!

I think the key is to understand what environment works for you, then figure out how you can optimize your use of it without overstressing the world. Different places offer different advantages that way.
arielstarshadow From: arielstarshadow Date: July 9th, 2009 07:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, I do - I generally don't use my car at least two days a week. I wish it could be more, but due to my work hours I can't bike in to work (I could bike back, though, but there's no way to make that work).
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 9th, 2009 08:13 pm (UTC) (Link)


Two days a week is good.
tonithegreat From: tonithegreat Date: July 9th, 2009 08:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was just pondering the ethics of my excessive car use as I drove to daycare to feed my girls.

Before I had kids, I occassionaly tried to implement a bike and or bus to work plan every few weeks. I live over 10 miles from my office, and our public transport here is not fabulous, so I rarely followed through with it. But it felt really good on the days I could do it. It was a great workout and it felt good to be green.

Now that I have kids I drive to work every day. Not only that, I drop them off at daycare before I come into the office. Then I take my lunch hour late so that every day I can drive back to daycare and feed the girls. Then I drive back to my office. And at the end of the day I go back home by way of daycare. It is a lot more driving than I ever used to do. Additionally, if I have errands to run, I no longer choose to run them on the way home, because I've got two tiny babies in the car with me who do not want to go to the grocery store or fabric store. So I go out again after leaving the babies with dad if I need to run errands. Sometimes I can at least bike to my errands.

I guess the point of this post is to say that one unanticipated effect of having kids is that I drive a whole lot more than I used to. So future parents, beware! It's one more cost both time/money wise and possibly an ethical dilemma to think about.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 9th, 2009 08:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Good Point

America pays lip service to "family values" but in reality is one of the most family-hostile countries. Business and other features do not make it easy to create a strong, healthy family life -- let alone do that and anything else.
queenofillusion From: queenofillusion Date: July 9th, 2009 08:48 pm (UTC) (Link)


I would love to be able to take public transit to work...however, I checked into the bus and it would be an hour and a half in the morning and anywhere between an hour and a half to two hours at night. All that to go from one suburb to another that, when traffic is good, it takes 15 minutes by car.

I used be able to walk to work, until they moved work. I've asked around re carpooling, but nobody wants to.

Hence work=car
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 9th, 2009 09:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Frustrated

That does sound frustrating. Job motion is a serious problem in America today, moving work farther away from people's homes, or even out of the country. It leaves the nation very vulnerable in ways people don't often think about.
jolantru From: jolantru Date: July 9th, 2009 10:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't drive but my husband does, to commute to work. Sometimes, we take the car to go out (for groceries, outings etc). Sometimes, we walk, because we do have the shops within walking distance.
ideealisme From: ideealisme Date: July 10th, 2009 12:58 am (UTC) (Link)

don't have a car

I live 4-5 mins walk from the train station which has both suburban and intercity trains. So I've no excuse. When I go shopping I walk up to Tescos at the top of the hill.

Usually when I'm in a car it's when myself and the boyfriend are travelling somewhere.
19 comments or Leave a comment