Transportation: the balancing of sustainability and ease


I’ve been car-less for over 5 years now. Despite what many people assume, my licence was not plucked from my shaking hands after a terrible accident nor was it a product of bad financial decisions.

I got rid of my car for a much simpler reason: I wanted to.

My choice to go car-less was one of the first challenges I undertook, as I worked to better align my life with my personal values.  When I moved back to Ottawa from Toronto, I made decisions that would allow me that flexibility – like locating my house close to a transit hub, and walk able to other essentials.

I transitioned into the new lifestyle with ease, and found many things I love about taking transit:

  • Connecting with others – from the small talk with strangers, to playing hide and seek with a toddler hanging over their parents shoulder, taking transit allows you to build community. I have found it really powerful to be able to interact daily with people I wouldn’t have had the chance to otherwise – young, old, rich, poor, healthy, sick, students, professionals.
  • Pausing, Unwinding – in a society that is so switched on, there is an element of pure joy in being given the opportunity (read: forced) to pause every day. Waiting. Watching. Disconnecting. Slowing down.
  • Lighter financial burden – although it wasn’t my motivation to get rid of my car, it certainly was a reason to not purchase a new one. No more maintenance fees. No more insurance. No more stress from watching gas prices.

It has only been within the past year that I have considered re-introducing the possibility of getting a car. I had noticed some areas of my life (which I really valued) had been impacted, which I wasn’t so keen on – such as less time spent with my family or fewer weekends out in nature.

I questioned if the amount of time I really needed a car, justified me purchasing one (and inheriting all of the headaches associated). 

After researching, and deliberation – I decided to sign up for a Car sharing program (VRTUCar), allowing me to have access to a car for general running around. However I have found that if you are driving it more than ~3hrs or 60km a week, it is more cost effective to rent a car one day a week. Incredibly – I could rent a car 15+ days a month, before all the costs of owning a car would be more effective (insurance, maintenance, depreciation).

I’m going to give it a shot for the next couple of months (as it will help me with my STUFF Project). I’m wondering if any of you have experience with car-less households, car-sharing, renting on a casual basis, or purchasing a sustainable vehicle? I’d be thrilled to hear your ideas and experiences below!

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24 thoughts on “Transportation: the balancing of sustainability and ease

  1. If I wasn’t a landscaper and didn’t need a way to transport my tools with my truck I would probably opt out of having a vehicle too. I miss the days of being a student and being able to ride the bus every day. I still try and take the bus when I can.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I have been carless for about 3 years and it does have its advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes standing around at bus stops on a cold, dark night makes me wish I still had it. But other times, I don’t miss all the expense of owning one: road tax, insurance, petrol. MOT etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I totally agree that it’s nice to not have a car 95% of the time; however, it would be nice to have for visiting nature/camping more often. I’m thinking about joining the Ottawa Alpine Club or a different community group so that I can carpool to have access to nature without owning a car

    I also saw a mom the other day on an electric bike with some mega paniers.. I was impressed! I feel like electric bikes could be a game changer when wanting to cover longer distances.. something I’d consider in future!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Well done, Laura! I’ve been carless through choice for 2.5 years. I miss it because I have less access to nature. The savings enable me to spend a little more on my commute, so I use a ferry instead of a bus. The result of this is a relaxing journey and a positive mental state! Not so bad! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve never learned to drive so I’m carless by default
    it wasn’t an issue when I lived in big city with great public transport, it became real pain in the backside since I moved to VERY rural Ireland with VERY bad public transport
    I still manage to get by hitchhiking, relying on friends and extremely insufficient bus services
    there is no trains here 😦
    I walk everywhere, I cycle (dislike it a lot though, roads are not safe here and weather is often really bad)
    I still do get from A to B when I need to, I have wonderful friends that give me a lift when I’m stuck and I walk more than ever
    so…. it’s not too bad 😉

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Basically, we have a car because public transport where we were was non-existent. For a while we used bicycles but our drive was long, steep and shingly, so that became too much of a climb. We walk a lot, and hope to take advantage of the buses where we are now. But the car is still needed to give us the ability to easily visit children and friends throughout NZ – and to transport the dog 🙂


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