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
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. 2 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. So if I do 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 (nospon 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!
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.
Will I Change My Mind?
Not owning a car makes me healthier, saves me time, saves me money, 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 people use 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. So 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. I think a circular economy is the future!