The idea might sound preposterous at first, especially if you’ve invested a heavy amount of time and money into the purchase and care of your automobiles. But getting rid of your car and relying on public transportation, cycling, and walking can significantly reduce your carbon footprint and save you hundreds of dollars in maintenance costs, insurance, and fuel expenditures.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fuel Economy department, automobiles on the highway are responsible for issuing 1.5 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases into the planet’s atmosphere.
You’ll have to consider a variety of other factors that come into play before you can actually make the move to say “goodbye” to driving; and it must be granted that this action is not something that everyone can choose.
Some might decide do their part for environment by cutting down on how often they drive. Others may opt to purchase cars that are more fuel-efficient or vehicles that run at least partly off electrical power.
Either way, it’s a good idea to assess whether or not your household actually needs a car.
Presumably, your most important destinations are not dozens of miles away if you’re going to make the lifestyle change of getting rid of your car work for you and your family. City dwellers generally have more transportation options. They typically have ready access to basic needs such as groceries, work, and school using public transportation, rideshare programs, or bicycles.
By contrast, making the transition to a car-less lifestyle can be quite challenging for people who live in the suburbs or rural areas, since the distance between your destinations is larger, and you’ll have few or no options for alternative transportation.
Before you completely do away with your vehicle, go through a trial period of a week or two, during which you test the alternative commuting options. You might discover that waiting periods are too long to be sustainable, or bus stops aren’t as accessible as you need them to be.
On the other hand, you might discover that the change is highly beneficial for your budget and your waistline. The money you save on automobile expenses and the increased physical activity in your daily routine could be all you need to make the switch.
Take a look at your budget
According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Consumer Expenditures report, Americans paid out a total average of $8,456 on vehicle- and fuel-related expenses in 2012. Just think about how far that money would go if you could save it for other goals in your life.
For example, you could apply it to:
- a college fund for your kids or young relatives
- future vacations
- your retirement fund
- emergency savings
- stock and bond investments
Take a look at what your current automobile costs are annually. Chances are, you’ll be startled, if not blown away, by how much you can save by getting rid of a single car.
However, to get a proper sense of the entire picture, you should also research the cost of public transportation options in your area. If you plan to commute by bicycle, try to calculate how much the equipment and maintenance is apt to run.
Either way, you should still manage to save a substantial amount every year.
Health and fitness
Some people become over-reliant on their cars; they use them to drive a few blocks to the grocery store, rather than simply walking the short distance.
Although it seems convenient on the surface, this can actually be counterproductive, since the time required for leaving your garage or driveway, getting to your destination (especially if you have one-way streets and long lights), and then finding a parking space at or near the store can actually take as much time as making the trip on foot.
Vehicles can inspire laziness, which will have negative effects on your health and well-being.
According to health and fitness nonprofits such as America Walks, up to 34% of U.S. citizens already meet public health activity recommendations simply by walking. You don’t have to grind away at a treadmill for hours on end if you find a way to replace your daily commute with walking, biking, skating, and any number of fun transportation activities.
Reduction of risk
Unfortunately, driving is also one of the most risky activities you can take choose to do. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car crashes are the leading cause of death in the United States.
If you stop and think about it, the notion that an activity you do every day is also, given to the statistics, the most likely to be violently fatal can be terrifying. There are countless environmental and social factors that raise the risks of driving.
Removing cars from your living environment can also decrease the risks to your home. Car supplies such as cleaners, antifreeze, and fuel can be extremely toxic and flammable, so they increase personal health and fire risks at home.
The decision to get rid of a car comes with significant challenges, whatever the benefits. Not only is it a more sustainable way to live, but decreasing your reliance on vehicles can help you save hundreds each month, get into better shape, and free you from continued maintenance.
Weigh your options carefully, examine your current lifestyle, and consider driving less!