Monday, October 10, 2016

What to do when your man wants to use the car and you don't

Posted by Amanda Villaruel |
The first time I aired the idea for writing this post, my beau replied sarcastically:

"You mean that you want to write a post about me who wants to drive our car all the time, and you refusing it because of environmental reasons? What have you been watching now?"

He was spot on ;-) After watching a Norwegian television series about a green lifestyle project (Live redder verden. Litt) that talked about the car use among Norwegians, I felt guilty. On average half of the car trips in Norway are less than 5 km, so mostly to neighboring areas.
What to do when your man wants to use the car and you don't
What to do when your man wants to use the car and you don't

For a time we borrowed a car from my boyfriend's aunt and last week we officially inherited it. To begin with I was reluctant to use the car. We didn't need a vehicle before, so why start now?

With time I got used to having it, and I got to admit that driving has made us lazy. It would be easy to blame the fact that we live 15 minutes outside downtown Oslo by metro, but I'm not going to do that because it's completely doable to live outside downtown without owning a car.

Frankly, it's simply convenient with a vehicle.
Driving to look at apartment no. X last year in my dad's car

I advocate for a balanced approach to green living. Still, I find it very difficult to find the middle ground for when to use the car - especially when you have a better half who enjoys to drive, even when if it's not entirely necessary. The blame is not only on him. It takes two to tango.

Eventually I had to put my foot down, and come up with suggestions on how to reduce the car use and effectivize our car routines.

Don't get me wrong, we don't use the car every day. We've estimated that we drive approx. 6000 km every year, which is half the average car use in Norway. According to the bureau Statistics Norway, the average Norwegian drove 33,5 km per day in 2013. That totals 12.227 km per year.

I use public transportation when I go to work, have personal errands, meet my friends and visit my family in town. It's when we want to go the gym, shop for lots of bulk food, visit our allotment vegetable garden downtown or I want to get picked up when it gets late, that lead us to think that we need the car.

This is what we've done so far to reduce the unnecessary car travel:

  1. Instead of doing one thing at a time with the car, we manage several things on one single car trip; pick up packages at the post office, grocery shopping and visit the allotment garden. Only one round trip, instead of three. 

  2. If we don't have many things on the agenda that can be done on one single car trip, we postpone it until we have.

  3. Whenever I can, I will stop by the allotment garden after work. It's quite convenient actually since the garden is only a five-minute bus ride from my workplace. Sometimes I combine this with grocery shopping at two bulk food stores close to the allotment garden. 

  4. Instead of getting picked up I take the public transport - even if it's late and dark (and as long it feels safe)

Of course, all of this requires planning and two-way communication. Overall, we're good at communicating, but sometimes there has been misunderstandings leaving us both in frustration. But none of us hold a grudge for a long time, and we sort things out :-)
Driving our car has made us lazy, but not for long!

Since we aim at reducing the car travel, I always bring my reusable shopping bags when I go to work. If we need a lot of groceries, I normally bring my dear backpack.

What about bicycling?

Yes please, what about bicycling? Well, one thing I want to resume next year is bicycling. I biked a lot my last year living in downtown Oslo, and I hardly used public transportation from May to September.

I rented a bike from Oslo City Bike (Oslo Bysykkel), and biked regularly from home to pretty much anywhere in central areas of Oslo.
Rental bikes in Oslo
Rental bikes in Oslo

When I think about it, I actually miss the feeling of getting a breeze in my hair and the freedom to go wherever I want, passing cars that are stuck in traffic :-)

However, we moved to a new apartment last December, and everyone who lives here knows it's all up hill. I'm not that fit, and honestly I don't have the desire to become that fit. But biking a little is doable for me :-)

A final word

Having a car has without a doubt simplified many aspects of our lives. If we time it right and avoid the rush hour, we save a lot of time when we drive - whether it's going to the gym or visiting relatives who live far away. Having access to a vehicle is practical when we want to get rid of stuff at a recycling station or pick up second-hand furniture.

But as I mentioned earlier, it's more about minimizing the unnecessary car travel, be less lazy and try to do several things in one single car trip.

Sure, I have my environmental reasons for reducing our car use, but there are also health concerns in all of this.

After we got our first car, it has impacted my health negatively. There was a point when I was almost out of breath when I took the stairs at work, or power-walked up hill. I'm 33 years old, not 83. My body and mind deserve better than this ;-)

What do you feel about using the car? How have you solved it? Share in the comment field below :-)

Continue to read:
A nomad's green moving tips and free checklist.

The Climate Change summit - 6 things you probably didn't know.

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