#CarFreeFamily

[reposting from Facebook so everyone can catch up on the journey so far – fresh new content coming very soon!]

Last week we gave up our car.  We are now a car free household.

It’s not that we can’t afford to own a car, although it is a big expense.  It’s not that we don’t use it, although we have been trying to travel by walking, cycling or public transport whenever possible for some time.  This reduction in use over time is what has now led us to take this step.  We have got to a point where we can’t justify owning such a big resource (in money and carbon terms) for it to mostly just sit on the road in front of the house: a very expensive piece of road furniture, and a temptation to be lazy!

This has been a long time coming.  For a couple of years now we have talked about whether we could manage without a car.  If we could afford it we would have swapped for an electric car years ago, and that might have kept us running a vehicle for longer.  But this goes beyond petrol/electric really – this is about choosing to engage with transport in a different way altogether: to reimagine our relationship with moving about the world.

We are choosing to explore a different way of life/travel/transport.

Not having a car will be inconvenient at times.  It will mean that we need to leave more time to get around, that it will sometimes take more effort or planning, and that there are some things that we will no longer be able to do (at least not without borrowing or renting a car).  This is a sacrifice we are prepared to make.  We recognise that this will also knock on to our family and friends (and work) at times, and ask for your patience, grace and understanding as we work this out.  We are going to need to travel more intentionally – less nipping about and quick journeys – but plan to use this as an opportunity to make the most of being in the place that we are.  We might not be able to visit as frequently, but will plan to spend good quality time in a place once we get there.  Slowing down to appreciate the moment.  

Our hope is that this is one thread in the tapestry of people, places and groups coming together to reimagine and rebuild our world.  Reimagining transport – away from self-reliant convenience and rushing around all the time, towards sharing and a steadier pace of life.  

What will we do when we want to move big things around now?  What will we do when we want (or need) to get somewhere that isn’t accessible by bus or train?  What will we do when it is raining hard but we still need to do the school run?  

We have chosen to limit our options, but we still have plenty!  We can:

Walk, Bicycle, Bus, Train, Taxi, Borrow a car, Rent a car, or even Just not do it!

The adventure begins…

OIKOS

In September 2021 I learned a new word: oikos  

In present day oikos is the name of a yoghurt, but in Ancient Greek times (up to and including New Testament biblical times) it meant household, family, or home.  Oikos is where we get the prefix ‘eco’ – as in ecology, economics, eco-system.  It is about connectedness, our relationships to one another, our interdependence.  ‘No man is an island…’ etc.

So oikos life felt like a good title for gathering some thoughts and reflections on our journey over the past couple of years as a family.  This is about our family/household/home life, especially in terms of how we are trying to live in more eco-friendly ways.  We want to walk more gently on the earth – to be more compassionate, connected and aware of the people, places and other created beings around us.  For us as a family this is inspired by our Christian faith, which shapes how we see the world and how we aim to live as part of it. We are working out what it means to follow Jesus today, particularly in light of our global context of climate and ecological crisis.

The particular prompt to write was our decision to finally get rid of our car completely in October 2021 – to become a car free household.  Several people said they would be interested in hearing some honest reflections on how this worked out for us, so that will be one element of this blog.  But as we thought about that one big lifestyle change we realised that it is just one example of how our attitude and approach to life is changing – a big one, but just one.  So we also want to include thoughts, reflections, and lessons we’ve learned along the way so far on the whole range of our family life and eco-journey.  We hope to include topics like:

  • quick wins
  • less is more
  • food
  • travel
  • stuff
  • cleaning
  • faith
  • protest
  • and probably more!

This is absolutely a work in progress, so we would love to hear your thoughts and responses on the way.  Let us know what lessons you’ve learned, point out the things that look like they are still blind spots for us, join us on this journey.  Peace be with you.  

Oli, Joanne, child1 and child2 🙂