Image: Creative Commons
It all started, like so many things in life, with an accident.
My husband stopped at a traffic light, and an irresponsible driver who wasn’t keeping their distance slammed into him headfirst. Thank goodness none of the children were in the back seat at the moment, and no one was hurt.
The car, however, was pronounced dead and hauled away to a junk yard. Our only consolation was that we’d postponed some expensive repairs that would have been totally wasted.
All of a sudden, for the first time in many years, we found ourselves without our own set of wheels, and without the prospects of getting enough from the insurance company to enable us to buy another car.
At first, we felt stranded. We were so used to the convenience of having a car that for the first day or two we put off any errands, waiting for I don’t know what to happen. Then the shock wore off, and we realized that, in fact, we should be grateful that this happened here, in an area where we have almost everything we need within walking distance, and abundant and convenient public transportation for all the rest. Had we lost our car before we moved here, we would have been marooned.
There are definitely some drawbacks to this situation. Spontaneous trips are a thing of the past. Any traveling as a family would be a complex logistic project of hauling four kids, a stroller, a diaper bag and a stash of snacks on board of a bus or train. Say goodbye to comparing prices and buying in bulk, too – we are now limited to two or three grocery stores in the area and to as much as we can carry in a backpack or shopping trolley (unless the savings offset the price of delivery).
But are there any advantages? You betcha! I didn’t realize not having a car could be so liberating:
Cost. This one’s pretty much a no-brainer. Not having a car saves all the money that would have been spent on gas, maintenance and insurance. Bus fares are just a fraction of that.
No more worrying about parking. Parking in busy city areas can be scarce and expensive. Using public transportation eliminates these worries.
A slower life and cutting indirect costs. The more you are out and about, the more you spend – on gas, eating out, and impulse purchases of items that catch your eye. Being more at home and in our neighborhood gives our days a slower, healthier pace, and enables us to get to know our local community better.
A gentler tread. Not having a car means a smaller footprint upon this earth. It doesn’t get more eco-friendly than that.
I’m not saying we’re dead set against ever buying another car, but it’s nice to know how well we can manage without one. So far, I’m liking this involuntary experiment!
Anna Twitto’s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Anna, her husband and their four children live on the outskirts of a small town in northern Israel. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. Anna's books are on her Amazon.com Author Page. Connect with Anna on Facebook and read more about her current projects on her blog. Read all Anna's Mother Earth News posts here.
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