Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Sayonara, Yaris

I sold my car last week. It was great little car. I bought it from my cousins three years ago. It ran beautifully and I never had any problems with it, but I sold it because I really didn't need a car. When the summer tires were installed this year, the mechanic noticed rust on the front brakes from lack of use. Replacing the brakes and rotors cost $500. This was a sign that it was time to give up the car.

As a statement of principle, I never wanted to be a car owner. I don't want to be an active contributor to climate change. I don't want to add to traffic congestion. I resented the monthly cost of insurance for a car that mostly sat in the driveway. I never learned to love snow shovelling as a form of cross-training.

I'm not saying that car ownership is never ever justified. I am grateful that I have a job that does not require me to commute. Other people need their cars: Sharon provides therapy to shut-in patients, Gord works out of town, Penny has to visit employers all over the city to evaluate her students' work coop placements.

In terms of environmental activism, many people are much more engaged than I am in protesting global climate change and opposing actions like fracking. My decision to sell the car is activism on a very small scale, it is my own private protest, my statement of principle that I do not want to be a car owner. I support human power transport (walk, bike, skate). I believe in public transit. I will sign up with a car-share service (currently comparing the merits of VirtuCar or Zipcar) so that I can use a vehicle when I need one.

Lest this start sounding annoyingly self-righteous, let me point out that I am the beneficiary of a person who has a car, who drives me wherever I need to go and sends a note every afternoon asking if we need anything at the grocery store. I am grateful for this, I make use of it, and I am not suggesting that he should get rid of his car. Owning a car may be a luxury, but being able to live without one is a privilege.


Apropos, kudos to the G7 for the statement of intent to phase out fossil fuel use by the end of the century. At this stage the announcement is more of a symbolic gesture than a practical plan but it is the first step in the right direction.

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