To be a greener driver is good, if you can’t give up your car just yet. It’s nice to be car-free, but not practical for many, until town planners make it easier to walk or cycle places. It’s greenwash to say that cars are green, but we can be greener drivers. In Finland, fines for crimes are based on income. It’s known as home to the ‘$103,000 speeding ticket’.
- Cutting Your Car Use is a nice illustrated book with 100 tips by a traffic reduction consultant. Anna walks and cycles most places, hires a car now and then, and occasionally takes a taxi.
- See tips to keep wildlife safe near roads. A lot of help can be done by councils, but we can help too by being wildlife-careful drivers, and keeping a first aid box and details of a local wildlife ambulance to hand.
- Environmental Transport Association offers breakdown (and insurance) for cars and bicycles, profits are used to campaign for sustainable transport. It also offers local vehicle inspection.
The Sion is a car. This is a spacious electric car that charges for up to 350 kilometres, using the power of the sun. It takes around 35 minutes from home or a charging station, and comes with its own home storage system wallbox. There are options like a tow bar for holidays and a spacious trunk, and you can replace many parts yourself, and it comes with heated seats, height-adjustable seat belts and enough space for long legs on long journeys. You can also use the app to remotely control pre-air conditioning and check the battery status. Read more.
Zero Waste Car Maintenance
Oil & antifreeze are lethal to pets (the latter has a sweet taste). If you can’t have your mechanic change both, use a funnel and choose antifreeze made with propylene glycol (think P for protection – not pet-safe just safer than ethylene glycol – keep both locked away). Read up on how to clean up spilled antifreeze.
- Replace toxic air fresheners with charcoal PURGGO or Moso Bags (good to remove cigarette smells). Avoid essential oils near pets, children or allergies. But for everyone else, Scent (essential oils in a wooden tube that attaches to air vent) or Purple Frog (organic ‘tree freshener) are better than conventional brands.
- Never wash cars on the drive, as the untreated water goes down storm drains and causes mini oil-spills. Either use a car wash that recycles the water or use waterless car wash products that clean and polish your car in one (wipe off in straight lines, to avoid swirl marks). Supermarket car washes often don’t have regulations to filter the water, and the oily suds can attract thirsty foxes or feral cats. Use a compostable cloth (launder microfiber cloths in a microplastic catch bag). Bin very dirty/oily cloths.
- Click Mechanic employs local mechanics to service and repair cars at your home, to avoid high prices of renting big showrooms.
Share a Lift with Others
Whether you like to share a lift with others or prefer the independence of travelling alone, there are alternatives to the normal procedure of everyone going into debt to buy a brand new car, and making payments on it for years to come. We all know the value dives the minute your drive it out of the showroom. So what about sharing a car? If there is a scheme in your town, it may be an option.
- Bla Bla Car is a European company that has good safety caveats in place, for sharing lifts. You can even choose the type of sharer (so a shy person doesn’t get stuck on a long journey with a motormouth!)
- Co-Wheels rents cars out by the hour (they cover the vehicle, MOT, insurance, road tax, cleaning), most car clubs also have cards to cover petrol and breakdown – and offer pet-friendly and disabled friendly options. There are usually grace periods for traffic, and this idea frees up parking spaces and takes 19 cars out of every 20 off the road, while giving you the freedom to drive your own car.
- Or to even more independent, Hiyacar and Turo both take care of the paperwork and insurance, so you can rent cars off local people in your community.
- Splitcab (London) lets you split the fare and share a taxi. This creates fewer emissions and you can save up to 60% on your fare. They have good safety caveats, and the app is often used to book normally expensive airport transfer journeys.
- Goboony lets you rent a motorhome direct from owners who are not using it. This works out around 40% cheaper, and there is even a website Campspace, where you can camp in people who have large gardens.
How to Hail a Greener Cab
London’s Green Tomato Cars offer pre-booked rides in electric cars, but their seats are made from leather (it takes the death of four cows to make one leather car). Better to use vegan cars for a ‘green taxi service’. Other London taxis are Bolt (an app that sets prices before rides) and Gett (discounts for electric vehicles). In New Zealand, Green Cabs use electric vehicles, so don’t have to charge so much, as they don’t pay for so much gas. They also plant trees for each ride (so far the company has planted over 350,000 trees).
Of course, in London you can also take a London cabbie. These are very big, because they began when men in top hats would use them, so they had to be tall enough not to knock them off! Did you know that it’s illegal to shout ‘Taxi!’ to a cab driver? Just hold out your arm. If you are disabled or blind, Taxicard offers reduced fares for Londoners, and their carers.
You don’t always have to use a cab that uses petrol and four wheels. Pedicabs are popular. These are like modern versions of Asian rickshaws, and gives someone a nice job pedalling you to and fro. Some companies like London’s Bugbugs offer courier and wedding services too. If you feel a business idea coming on, you could look into buying a pedicab.
A Beautiful Horseless e-Carriage
This beautiful horseless e-carriage has been designed by experts, and runs on electric to replace horses that are used in New York’s Central Park, many of which get spooked and injured from traffic. These carriages are beautiful, and would also earn the drivers more money. And the horses could go live out their lives in lovely sanctuaries in the wilderness.
Nearly all the major animal charities began over 100 years, after seeing abuse of ‘carriage horses’ being used as taxis through major cities. Today in New York, campaigners want an end to the use of carriage horses in Central Park. No doubt they are cared for by their guardians, but many are killed or injured each year in car accidents, and many also suffer stress & injuries in a very big and noisy city. In 2020, video footage of a horse that stumbled many times in Central Park then collapsed on the pavement, caused outrage. Another spooked horse took off and crashed into 3 parked cars.
If you see a carriage horse you are concerned about, report it (in the UK, you can report horse concerns to RSPCA, World Horse Welfare or The British Equine Society). And obviously, never take carriage rides abroad of any animal, many are not well and charities are working to educate how to look after them better.