We have been looking for ways our family can combat climate change since we read that 11,000 scientists said the planet “clearly and unequivocally faces a climate emergency.” You can read it yourself in the study called “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency.” That was enough to scare the hell out of my family and me.
Unlike some, we don’t ignore science, especially if 11,000 geniuses are saying the same thing. We are in a climate emergency!
Let that sink in.
If humans want to continue to survive and thrive on planet Earth, we have to do something. My family is no exception. We already cut back on single-use plastic like bags, straws, and bottles. We are eating less meat and moving to a more plant-based diet. We are recycling, so no more of our precious trees are being cut down for our use.
But this wasn’t enough.
Burning carbon-based fuels and creating greenhouse gases is one of the big things that is hurting the environment, and we thought about how we could make a difference. We could cut down on driving. We could stop using our car for short trips and use public transportation.
But that still wasn’t enough.
We started to think about how much we actually used our car and thought seriously about going vehicle-free from now on.
It sounds drastic, but we knew we had to get rid of our new car.
There was another reason going without a car could help us. 2019 has been a tough year. We had a baby and took out loans to try to get out of the hole we had dug for ourselves. The car we had bought in 2018 was a huge expense that we could no longer afford. Add into our already straining budget a massive car payment, insurance, and constantly filling the tank with high-priced gas, and we were in big trouble.
If we sent the car back to the bank and used public transportation instead, we could not only pull ourselves out of a financial rut but do our part in curbing the burning of fossil fuels.
We agonized over the decision for weeks. Having a car in the Philippines wasn’t just about being comfortable — there was status involved. My wife and I could care less about what people thought about us and if they thought we were better because we drove a new car.
We were more worried about our family, and if they felt they would lose status if we ditched our car. In the end, our egos lost that battle, and the deciding factor turned out to be convenience. How would we get my daughter to school every day? How would we get groceries? What if we wanted to take the whole family to the beach?
Public transportation is fine, but it’s not comfortable, and it’s not convenient. Here in the Philippines, public transportation comes in the form of tricycles (motorcycles with sidecars) and jeepneys (bigger trucks that hold up to 20 people). Neither had air conditioning for this tropical heat, and they weren’t very good at keeping you dry in the elements. It rains here all the time.
In the end, it came down to if we thought we could manage to do what we had to do and be a little uncomfortable. Can we give up some of the convenience?
The answer was yes.
Two days ago, they came from the bank and took our car away. Yes, our credit would take a hit, and that bank wouldn’t be giving us any loans anytime soon, but we had decided we could live with these circumstances.
This was the first new car I’d owned in my whole life, and I loved driving it. It was nice to always be cool, no matter the temperature, and there was some pride involved driving that fancy vehicle around. I was sad to see it go, and I could tell from my wife’s eyes that she was upset too.
Now there is a lonely light spot on the pavement in front of our house where the car always sat. When I look out the window of my office, and I see the car is not there, I wonder if we made the right decision.
But because we don’t have the car anymore, we will get all our bills caught up within two months. Maybe now, we can invest in experiences and travel. Maybe we don’t run out of money for the last two weeks of every month.
We also have more money to buy what we need for our plant-based diet because we know that even though we made a huge impact on the environment by giving up our car, there is always more we can do.
Just because we’ve done something good doesn’t mean we can sit back and let everyone else do the hard work. The plan is to write more about this so I can help others see they can survive without their gas-guzzler. We want to tell people they can make an impact on this planet by cutting out single-use plastics and using bamboo or metal straws and utensils.
We want to tell people how hard it is on the environment for everyone to be eating so much meat. We need a new way of eating that is more sustainable.
And, we need to stop increasing our reliance on fossil fuels. We are poisoning our planet, and something drastic needs to be done.
Can you live without a car? Would you get rid of it to help the environment?
I bet if you really thought about it, the answer would be yes.