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My Sister, Car-less Linda

2013 February 11

Greetings from New England!Each Monday we write about the New England environment and way of life seen through our local perspective. Previous posts

By Amy Miller

My sister Linda was feeling left out recently because she never makes it into my blogs. And really, she is quite deserving. After all, she gave up her car more than two years ago. As in no car. As in buses and bikes and walking and car-sharing. Oh, and her husband’s car for late night trips to the hardware store.

Only 5 percent of adult Americans live without a car. I venture to say most of them live in New York City, where only half the people own cars. Which makes Linda, who lives in the almost urban suburb of Brookline, an anomaly.

According to government statistics, we in the US are the densest car-owning population in the world, except the tiny country of Monaco. And the countries right behind us are Luxembourg and Lichtenstein.

Linda came by this way of life when she traded her old wagon to a contractor in exchange for construction work. He really, really wanted her vegetable oil car. And she was sick of worrying she would destroy the thing by pumping regular gas instead of diesel.

So Linda admits she uses a car sharing service about three times a week at $7.50 to $9 an hour. And that this may amount to as much as owning a car. (I kind of doubt it.) But she is still committed to the beauty of this carless life.

“I don’t want to figure it out because it might be more expensive this way but it makes me happier,” she said.

Like the other night, she considered walking the two minutes to Cypress Street to get a car to go to Jamaica Plain for takeout Cambodian food. Then she nearly changed her dinner plans to avoid the drive. But in the end she jogged around Jamaica Pond for her dinner and came back smiling.

“I was in the best mood. It was snowing and it was beautiful,” she reported. “But if I had a car I certainly would have gotten in it and that would have been that.”

Furthermore, said this mother of a ninth- and fourth-grader, “The kids even talk more if we’re walking.”

And to justify the economics, Linda has a foolproof fallback thought.

“The other day when I was speed walking I thought, you know, I really don’t have to go to a gym, so I am saving money there. I am getting so much more exercise.”

About the author: Amy Miller is a writer who works in the public affairs office of EPA New England in Boston. She lives in Maine with her husband, two children, seven chickens, two parakeets, dog and a great community.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

3 Responses leave one →
  1. Claire Marie permalink
    February 11, 2013

    I have lived the car-less life in the last three or so years in the D.C. area. However, I do use Zipcar or rent a car on weekends 1-2 times a month. I also live walking distance to a Metro line.

    While sometimes I wish I could have a car so I wouldn’t have to plan every single trip, I always remember what a headache having a car in a densely populated area was — the higher insurance, dings and scratches all over it, parking tickets. Those were my main issues. Saving the environment was an afterthought when I gave up my car, but, nonetheless, I’m happy to help make the world a cleaner, better space when I can. :)

    Unfortunately good public transit throughout the U.S. is rare. I certainly couldn’t live without a vehicle if I didn’t live close to the city and have buses and trains get me to/from work and other personal obligations. In the more farflung suburbs this isn’t possible. I think it’s just the way America is — large and expansive and therefore not conducive to reliable, cost-effective public transit.

  2. pushpak permalink
    February 13, 2013

    what a beautiful story. Hats off to you Linda. Of course we measure everything with money, but how do you measure the training, that no school can give, Linda’s kids are getting? We shouldn’t (pollute/ consume/ waste), just because we can (afford!)…
    Thank you for spreading the thought,

  3. Limousines Brisbane permalink
    December 20, 2013

    Great opportunity to found this great blog post you’ve posted. Keep posting such a great article like you did in this blog.

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