I’ve made a distinction a while back: some sustainable habits are easier than others. For example, I wrote a post about how it’s way easier to go vegan than to stop traveling. But even though I said it that it’s not easy to give up traveling, I still try to do it less and travel sustainable. Since I’ve had my driver’s license I have noticed that there is one thing which makes me travel sustainable: I don’t own car.
I have to be honest here: not many students don’t own a car. In The Netherlands you can travel for free by public transportation if you’re a student. So, I’m not the biggest exception (even though I am not a student right now, I will be again next year). But that doesn’t mean that nobody my age owns a car. A lot of people actually do. I know people who immediately bought a car when they got their driver’s license. But most people my age buy a car when they get their first job. I personally choose to not own a car because I think it has many benefits.
Loss of Time in a Car
The main reason for to not own a car right now is because I don’t need one. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic I don’t study but I work at home (and once a week at the office). But even if I worked 5 days a week at the office I wouldn’t buy a car. I would consider living closer to work if that’s an option. Biking to work is the most ideal if you ask me. Groceries and everything else can also be done by bike just fine. You exercise and are outside.
If that’s not an option I would choose public transportation for work, like I do right now. I just think it’s just a loss of time I you sit in a car to commute. Even if public transportation takes an hour longer a day I would still prefer it over commuting by car. Two hours of time to do anything you want (I usually write blogposts or read a book) or 1 hour sitting in a car staring at the road. I know what I prefer.
I also strongly believe in a circular economy. An economy where we don’t own many thing but we lend them when we do need them. We’d need way less cars if all Dutch people shared cars or used public transportation. Did you know that a car isn’t used for 95% of the time? We only ride it 5% of the time and the other 95% it is standing still somewhere. I see that as a loss of resources. If we’d have less cars we’d have way more room in cities, less emissions, less air pollution and much less traffic. Who wouldn’t want that?
It’s sustainable to not own a car. If I would eventually need a car sometimes I would lend it from a friend or use a circular service. GreenWheels is a good example, this is a service where you can lend electrical cars (this is no sponsoring of course). Another good example are the electrical scooters we now have in almost every city of The Netherlands. With an app you can find a scooter close by, you reserve and pay for it in the app, you walk towards it and drive to your destination. You don’t have to return the scooter and can just leave it at your destination for the next person to use! But again, I would only use those if public transportation is absolutely impossible.
Costs of a Car
I think it also saves a lot of money when you don’t own a car. I’ve noticed the last couple of years that if you have a car in front of your door you tend to use it more since it’s there anyway. If you need to bike 30 minutes with strong wind for example. If you don’t have a car you simply don’t have an option. Therefore I always choose the bike, the healthy, sustainable and cheap option. If you travel to work everyday you can get a discount ticket for public transportation and I think that’s cheaper than owning a car (especially if you buy an expensive car). If you buy a car of 10.000 euros you need to travel a lot by public transportation to have the same costs. A car also needs maintenance, which is not cheap at all.
By taking part in car traffic you also have a rol in the deaths caused by it. In 2020, 610 people died in traffic. I am sure not all those 610 people were killed because of cars. All the things I am saying also accounts for motors and other motorized vehicles. However, I think if we’d all only use public transportation (preferably trains, metros and trams, not too many busses) we can reduce that number immensely. In 2020, 1 person died from an accident by train, because the crossing didn’t have any barriers. That accident could have been prevented. Of course more people lose their life because they commit suicide by jumping in front of a train. However, the train is not the cause there, it’s mostly depression and related mental illnesses. If we want to combat those, we should start elsewhere.
For me it really feels like 610 people lost their lives even though we couldn’t prevented most of them. Nobody is choosing to cause and accident and kill someone when they step into their car. However, when we choose public transportation we’re almost certain that this doesn’t happen. For me this is maybe even the most important reasons. The pain of losing a friend or family member is excruciating.
Air Pollution by Cars
We all know that cars emit CO2 and that this cause climate change. Climate change then against causes other horrendous things and it might even cause human extinction in the next decade. But besides that, there’s more. The air pollution from cars causes much more casualties than those 610 deaths per year I mentioned above. Air pollution causes astma, lung cancer, arteriosclerosis, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, diabetes and that’s only what’s been proven. I think there’s more. It is estimated that 2 million people (these are global numbers) die each year because of air pollution. We can save people by not getting in the car but grabbing a bike or public transportation instead. Do it for the ones you love.
Will I Every Own a Car?
Not owning a car makes me healthier, saves me time, saves me money, causes less casualties, is more sustainable and is better for us as a society in general. There are a lot of advantages. But of course there are also disadvantages sometimes. The main one I hear about from people is for a holiday. I personally don’t think it’s a valid excuse because you can easily lend a car for a week or two. Would I buy a car for this one-time occasion? Hell no. Another one is that it’s easy for trips with the family (if your household consists of more than 1 person). Yes that’s true. But then again, this can also be done by public transportation. Which is much more fun if you ask me. Groceries can be done by bike, just buy some secondhand panniers.
The only reason why I would buy a car is for work. If I need to travel during work to clients (not to and from work to home) every day I would consider buying or leasing an electrical car. Leasing to me is the same as buying a car since you’re not sharing it with anyone else as you would in a circular economy. But buying or leasing, as if right now, I don’t want to do it.
I think there’s a 5% change of me ever buying a car. I think not owning a car has many benefits for a sustainable future. And I think a circular economy is the future!