A Week Without the Car: A Case Study
Rachel, a confirmed car addict agreed to do without her car for a week, keeping a note of her experiences, good and bad! Hereis what she had to say about her car free week.
"As a family we recycle, don’t leave equipment on standby, and we buy home-grown produce where possible – the usual things that most of us now do. Learning to live without the car for a week was going to be a real challenge, but I was keen to go that extra eco mile.
Worker BeeGetting to work usually entails a long but comfortable wait on the M4 motorway, surrounded by other lone motorists. Catching the train took longer and wasn’t the most pleasant experience – I rarely got a seat and my journey time increased by half an hour each way. As much as I agree that we should all take advantage of public transport, with such an unimpressive service it’s obvious why we prefer to drive. More and more employers are running free shuttle buses from station to office and back, and I think this is a real step forward in encouraging employees to leave cars at home.
Supermarket SweepThe boom in online supermarket shopping is great, and as a family we had already taken advantage of it a few times. I prefer to choose home-grown and, if possible, locally-sourced produce, so my preference is to shop in person. By choosing a delivery slot when the supermarket was already scheduled to be in my area, I could be sure I was doing my bit in more ways than one. I walked to the local farmers’ market to collect additional items and felt good for supporting local suppliers.
Fit and WellGetting to the gym was pretty much impossible without a car, as it’s situated within a golf club out of town, with a rather unfriendly pedestrian or cyclist route. I missed my daily routine very much, particularly my regular classes and realised that if I hadn’t got the car, I’d need to switch my membership to a more local gym. This was quite a reality check – there’s a gym within walking distance, yet I drive for twenty minutes each way every day to get to mine...
Quality TimeFriday night is a night off cooking for me and we usually go out for dinner to wind down after a busy week. Ditching the car meant we walked to a local restaurant, feeling great for the extra exercise and being able to walk off the meal. No parking charges, no traffic, no carbon footprint, and we were more relaxed together. Supporting a local business was an added benefit, and we vowed to get out on foot more often.
Apart from the hellish commute and missing the gym, I enjoyed my week without the car. The challenges highlighted some changes that I could make very easily to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. I’m now considering moving my gym membership and switching to online supermarket shopping for good. In addition, I’ve begun to car share to get to work, taking one car off the road. There are, however, big changes needed to make our public services more efficient. If the Government is to tempt more of us to leave the car at home, it must provide a more inviting alternative."