Tuesday, March 11, 2008

No car thing

We are still a family without a car and I'm feeling fine about it. I can walk the kids to school in about 12 minutes and then it's 12 minutes back. That is almost the same amount of time it takes me to load them into the car and drive to school, unload and then get back. I say my goodbye quicker now, so I can get to work sooner.
I am spending less money overall because I'm not spending any free time shopping -- I'm at home working, playing with the kids or cleaning the messes said kids create. I have the groceries delivered (I often find free delivery coupons online) and I spend less that way because there are no impulse buys.
Even our dog makes out because she gets to enjoy our company more often.

So, what's the problem, you say? It's the pressure, man. The pressure from the husband, the mom and all of the others who tsk, tsk when they hear we are a family of four without an automobile. I imagine people think I'm some weirdo and one step away from pushing a shopping cart while talking to myself. It's not that I care if people think I'm too poor to have a car. I don't really give a rat's ass about keeping up the the Jones' new BMW. But I do care if people think I'm a bad parent or a bit dim because I don't want a car.

If it weren't for the outside pressures, I could seriously see myself living without a car for quite a while. I was watching a program with Phil the other night and it really scared me. It was a global warming piece -- yes, I've seen An Inconvenient Truth. But this show caught me at just the right time. I heard the message loud and clear that one day soon there will come a point of no return. Got it? A point of no return. A point when we can't save the planet for our children and grandchildren. A point when we give them not hope, but despair. I saw it and said to myself that I've got to take some action. How can I expect everyone else to do so if I don't? I curse the Hummers driving up and down the road, but I still drive from point A to point B when I don't really have to. I spend on things that I don't need. I take a long shower with the water steaming hot. Something about the program made me feel like small changes aren't enough any longer. We all need to make drastic changes.
I already do the little things -- bring my bags to Trader Joes, use natural cleaners in my house, run the dishwasher when full, turn off lights and machines when not needed, bring bags on my walks so I can pick up trash. But what's the biggest problem right now? Our dependence on gas-guzzling cars. Even with the increasing price of gas, I see new large vehicles on the road every day.

In giving into my husband's pleas for me to find a vehicle, I started to browse the listings for hybrid or alternative fuel cars. There is one major problem with most of them -- they are cost-prohibitive. If we do buy a car, we want it to be safe. Any mid-sized car would do, but with a mid-sized hybrid, you are looking at about $25K. VW is coming out with a diesel suv wagon thingy that sounds really provocative, but it doesn't come to the US until September and my husband nearly died when I told him I'd like to wait that long.

If I do cave, we'll probably just go for a standard, fuel-efficient vehicle and try to drive as little as possible. The problem, of course, is that if you have it, you tend to use it. I don't miss it right now, but I don't know how tempting it will be to just hop in the car to grab a gallon of milk like I used to.

This post has gone on much longer than I intended. I'll just close by saying that I'm going to challenge myself to make some big changes in my daily life and I ask you to do the same. Our planet is depending on us to take care of her before it's too late.

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