DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
I have a forum attached to my blog where people from all over the world meet to discuss simple life. There are about 7000 forum members now so we have an enormous amount of good information about growing food, cooking from scratch, family, simple living, routines, budgeting, baking and much more. Please click on the image above to go there. Newcomers will have to register. It's free, friendly and we're waiting for you.

12 November 2013

Sustainable transport

I don't think I've written about travel and transport before and I'm not sure why because I do think about it a lot.  When I gave up paid work, we sold our second car and I voluntarily gave up air travel. That was well over ten years ago and since then, on long trips, I've used the car or train. Plane and car travel cause a lot of greenhouse gas emissions we should all be looking at what we're doing and improving what we can.  Of course, there are times when no matter how much you want it, you can't get rid of your car and you can't change it. You have to made do with what you have.  Here are some eco driving tips to get more kilometres or miles from the fuel you use. From an environmental and financial perspective, we should all be concerned about our own usage.

This is our car - a second-hand 2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid.

Back in the 70 and 80, before we'd heard of global warming, we used to drive six cylinder Fords or Holdens. We usually had a station  wagon so we had enough room to get our boys to where they needed to go and enough room for our dogs. When we knew we had to be more careful with fuel, we moved to four cylinder cars.  A couple of years ago we bought our first hybrid car - a Camry Hybrid. We got a great deal from our local dealer on the car they were using as their hybrid demonstration car. We paid cash, drove it away and I was hooked. Our fuel usage dropped by 30 percent. It is, by far, the best car we've ever owned. It's easy to drive, four cylinder, spacious and comfortable. It's not a plug-in car, it's electric and petrol combined. When we turn it on, there is no sound, we can only hear the motor when the petrol motor starts. It incorporates technology that harvests the energy from using the brakes and forward motion. It's far outside my limited understanding of such things, but the bottom line is we're using 30 percent less fuel than we used to. It still has all the mod cons you expect in a new car but the technology makes the most of the fuel we put in it. 

There are also the options of public transport, walking and bicycling. We are within walking distance of our local shops but we rarely shop there. Occasionally, when we have to go into Brisbane, we'll go on the train rather than the car and I have used the train often when visiting Tricia. I love train travel and see it as a bit of an adventure.  Hanno has a bike and will cycle over to the local shops sometimes but mostly the bike sits in the garage. Of course we all know of Greg and Sophie's bike trip from Melbourne, via Tasmania, to North Queensland. They stayed with us here on the long trip up the coast and reported in their book Changing Gears, how that trip changed them. And here are some tips on travel, transport and sustainable living.

Many local authorities in Australia now have a sustainable transport plan. Ours, on the Sunshine Coast, is here. We do make sure we do as much as we can on each trip out and we are conscious of the amount of travel we do by car. I guess if we were a little younger we might look at other, more sustainable forms of transport.  But now, I'll stick with our hybrid, with occasional long trips by train.

What's your main form of transport?


32 comments:

  1. This is the area I struggle with the most. If I travel to melbourne I go by train but, living rurally, most places I go are by car. I'm not as organised as I would like. I try to tie things together so that I achieve many jobs with one trip but it's hard with the kids. They get very scrappy if they're in and out of the car all day! Still, I find year by year we are driving less. I'll just keep working on it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Morning Rhonda.......my feet, the local bus and my car and the train if I go to Brisbane or further afield. When I was looking for a house to buy here it was way up on my list to be close enough to walk to town and also on or close to the bus route. I have that and the bus will stop right outside my door.....so I can walk to town, do my shopping and get the bus back if I have too much to carry. If I go to Tweed I do as much as I can in one trip including visiting friends. My car is a small economical 4 cylinder that's I can load chook food, hay etc into easily.. I haven't given up air travel, but I am conscious of the environmental cost , but my daughter and grandkids live overseas and I still want to visit them, although not as often as I used to. I think it's about being aware and making conscious choices.

    ReplyDelete
  3. In my daily life I walk - or I go by bike in the summer. I follow the children, go to the shops and to other daily things by foot or bike. When we need to buy a lot at the same time, we use the car - or if we go to shops further away or out of the city. We live in the outskirts of Oslo, close to the forest surrounding this capital of Norway. We go hiking, biking or skiing or swimming in the forest year round, with the children. If I want to go downtown - or when I have job-assignments that require that I go to the city centre, I go by the tube. Public transportation functions well.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thankyou for this post Rhonda--it is close to my heart.
    We are renting in Melbourne at the moment and I work at the Children's Hospital a couple of days a week. I have ridden my bike as a commuter for over 10 years now and I love it. With 2 young children it is basically my only form of exercise, it is free and as fast as other commuting in peak hour. When I had only one child used to hook him into the bike trailer everywhere as well.
    To get around the neighbourhood we mostly walk (to library, school, crèche, local shops) and the car is really the last option. We could also take buses, trams and trains wherever we need to go, we are very lucky in that regard.
    We are looking to move to the country next year (and buys some acreage), and although we will need a car, the hope is the kids will be able to bike to school, for myself to be able to bike to the regional train station and commute by train to Melbourne. My husband will still need his vehicle for work as he is a labourer.
    We are still more reliant on our car than I would like, and sadly we have a 4wd as we did a lot of off road camping etc, but we are now getting rid of this as we believe most of the camping we now access with the kids (and indeed much of Australia except the remote areas) are accessible by smaller and more effective 2 wd.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Back in the 70's we were hearing about global cooling! I'm all for being responsible stewards over the earth's resources but I refuse to believe the garbage about AGW. It is based on faulty science and patently wrong, for the simple reason of control and taxation by government.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Spot on Rozy! Couldn't agree more. I did enjoy reading this post Rhonda. You always give me something to think about but I do have differing opinions with the whole "Global Warming" topic

      Delete
    2. Everyone is entitled to their views. Personally I prefer to accept the evidence of thousands of scientists as collated by the IPCC in their recent report on climate change. Good stewardship of our planet and the small part of it we call home makes sense whatever your views on climate change. Living in a rural area I do need to use a car, but have tried to find the most fuel efficient vehicle I can. When in the city I use public transport to get about and much prefer it to getting caught in traffic snarl ups.

      Delete
  6. I walk or ride my bike everywhere (love incidental exercise) and the ability to do so was one of the main reasons for buying where we did. We're also a 10 minute walk from a major train station, 2 minute walk from the light rail (tram), and there's a bus stop on the corner. I can count on my fingers the number of times I've driven in the city, I just refuse to do it. I can go for years at a time without getting behind the wheel! We do have a 4WD and we've looked at getting rid of it but as my husband is a drummer we really can't do without a large vehicle and we holiday in the bush or on the family farm where a 4WD is necessary. My dream at the moment is to purchase a pedal assisted cargo bike as it's getting more difficult to carry my toddler and a load of groceries home on the bike. You don't realise how hilly Sydney is until you ride over it! I think the biggest way to travel sustainably is by cutting out unnecessary trips- live where you work/work where you live. Easy to say of course, but life is so much more enjoyable if you can make it happen, and you have so much extra productive time in your day!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Our main mode of transport is the car it's a four cylinder smaller sized car. Living in Tasmania with two small children I think you need a car especially if you live in a rural area like we do, we are in walking distance to the local shops, but we don't really go there much unless we need milk or something like that, I drive into town once a fortnight and do our food shopping and also pick up anything else we need on the same day. The public transport is not great down here we only have bus services. I wish that Tasmania would have a train service too!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Here in the US, unless you live in a city, it is challenging to not use a car to get to where you need to be. Public transport is not utilized where we live and as a result is always under threat of service cuts. To minimize my driving I try to frequent shops and services close by and aim to never go out on just one errand. There are places we go to within walking distance. I wish there were more. There are advantages to living in the suburbs, transportation is not one of them!
    Sue

    ReplyDelete
  9. I like some of the others here, prioritise being close to public transport and shops (where possible) when deciding where to live (we're still in that stage of life where we're moving around a lot). It's very important for me for a number of reasons- the lower environmental impact of medium-high density dwellings, greater sense of community as everyone's walking in the streets and at the local shops, and of course, convenience.
    I choose not to drive unless completely unavoidable as I find it very stressful, and I find that we can easily walk or get public transport everywhere we need to (e.g. we're fortunate enough to have 7 major supermarkets excluding IGA, Indian & Asian grocers, within walking distance!) - We're in the "middle" suburbs of Melbourne, 15km from the CBD. My husband does drive though- we own a Honda Civic hybrid, which we bought very cheaply second-hand for the same price as second-hand regular Honda Civics, and we do use it to go out in the evenings and he drives to work (something we're trying to look at changing). We also try to carpool with others very near us where we can't walk, to our local Baha'i community gatherings, and it also creates a wonderful community spirit traveling there and back together!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Unfortunately my husband's work as a building inspector involves distance traveling, and he must haul his own ladders, tools, etc, while I work in town and must drive to work. So we own two vehicles currently, an old car for me and a newer pickup for him.
    There is no public transportation here, and the trains to the capital no longer stop. So I drive my car to the shop and then walk all my errands and shopping from there. Husband drives for work, but then walks to do errands also. I do one main grocery shop a month, and then pick up weekly necessities on the way from work. I only fill my tank about once every 4-6 weeks, and would avoid driving altogether if I could!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have heard of hybrid cars but did not really understand what they were about. Unfortunately we cannot afford new cars just yet and live out of town, so our main transport is by car. We have three cars as my daughter drives to work as well. Unfortunately the only bus is the school bus. I do drive the boys into town on my way to work and they get the bus home...so we are unfortunately big contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Thanks for the informative post. Will need to work harder to upgrade our cars and its now on our long term goal list! Cheers, Tanya

    ReplyDelete
  12. We are in a rural area so unfortunately there is no public transportation. I would love to get a bike but not until they widen the roads. So it is the car - a four cylinder Isuzu - very economical. I also have children overseas, so try to get over every second year. I also am not so sure about Global warming - I think the earth goes in natural cycles. I try to reduce, re-use re-cycle and grow my own veggies because I think it is the right thing to do, not out of fear.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sadly due to dad's disabilities we drive to most appointments. He needs a larger car now he cannot get in and out of our small cars. My children and I drive four cylinders with good ratings. One is manual and the other auto. Wherever possible though they use buses. I believe we should use public transport as much as we can. I love that Brisbane now has bus stations and the trip into the city is minutes from home. Even my son, the chef, uses buses to go in and out of work most of the time.

    ReplyDelete
  14. My husband and I commute by bicycle and our kids commute to school and uni using either bus or bike. We also try to do short local trips either on foot or by bike.

    However, the tyranny of distance in Australia means that it is not always possible to travel by public transport or car. I live in Adelaide while my Mum and one of my brothers and his family live in Sydney, and it's hardly feasible time-wise to drive for a short visit, apart from the cost of petrol and overnight accommodation each way.

    My other brother lives in Sweden and if we wish to see each other, one of us has to fly.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Foot. We don't have a car, walk almost everywhere, use public transport for longer journeys around the city, and take the train when possible for international travel. Some places it's just not possible, though, so we do fly - I think around two or three times a year on average.

    ReplyDelete
  16. We recently moved to a larger town with amenities (supermarkets, library, playgroups etc) from our tiny little country town, and one of the big reasons was so that we could walk for most of our outings rather than drive. At our old house, we had a minimum 70km round trip to get to a supermarket. We certainly learned how to shop big and less often, but my husband also had to do a commute of that size each day. Now he walks to work. Not only are we spending less on petrol (a lot less!), and spending less time in the car, but we love our walks around town. We're now trying to sell the second car.
    So much better! Great to see this being talked about.

    ReplyDelete
  17. We sold my husband's 6 cylinder station wagon while i was on maternity leave early this year & now we share my 4 cylinder hatchback. He would like us to have a car each but i just don't think it's necessary. I work 3 days a week & catch the train. He needs the car to get to work as it's difficult & expensive to catch public transport there. Our house is within walking distance to almost everything we need & i have always enjoyed walking & will choose it over driving whenever possible. I have only been on 2 holidays requiring flying in my life. Today i took my daughter on the train to meet a friend for coffee, i usually find it less stressful than driving but i'm finding it more difficult to keep her entertained on the 40 minute train trip & people aren't very helpful when they see someone struggling with a pram & a toddler!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Rhonda, I can't say our transport is so very sustainable - we mosly get around by car - but we do travel less than others, as we just have one car and my husband uses it for work. Also, we don't travel by plane.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Rhonda, you've opened a can of worms here! From transport to global warming, I've enjoyed reading all these comments. I just don't know about global warming. On one hand I agree with Africanaussie, that the earth goes through natural cycles, and we just happen to be existing in a particularly changeable one. On the other hand when you see the glaciers melting.. but it's all happened before, without greenhouse gases as we know them!
    As far as transport goes, we are a two person, two car family. I've been telling the Other Half that we could well dispense with one car, but he is reluctant to give up his 'independence' (typical bloke). I'd give up my car but as it is small and economical, I reckon his should be the one to go. And I can't drive his anyway, it's too big for me to handle.
    We are half an hour's walk from shops and train station. Twenty years ago I used to walk to work every day when I worked locally but arthritis put a stop to long walks, and hubby has COPD which also prevents him from walking uphill, or any longer than about 10 minutes. So the cars stay. sigh....

    ReplyDelete
  20. Rhonda, I can't access the Simple Living Forum - I get a message saying it has forbidden me! Is this a temporary hiccup or do I need to do something with my computer? Sorry to post this here, but I don't know how else to contact you.
    Gina

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gina, I just got an email about problems we're having at the forum. We'll be working on it today and hope to have it open again asap. Sorry for the inconvenience.

      Delete
  21. We have a one tonne truck dually, diesel. We live on a farm. Our town where we get our mail and some groceries is a 30 minute drive. Where all the farm supply stores and a bigger grocery store is about a 50 minute drive. We try hard not to make un-necessary trips to town. We try to combine all of our stops into one visit. Hubby is supplied with a truck for his work by his company.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Very interesting blog, I'm following it with much pleasure.
    Hugs.
    mimma

    ReplyDelete
  23. Still driving the Holden BUT we are about to get a smaller car and park the Holden just to do trips that require a trailer or longer trips where the cr is more economical to run.We will buy a 4 cylinder. With plane travel-- well we can not drive or take the train to Australia from here :-) BUT when I get to Melbourne I get the shuttle to the train station and I travel to Warnambool by train to visit our family and then back again. I love the train travel. While it takes nearly 4 hours there are interesting people to talk to and you get to see some of the country that you would not observe in a car.
    As we live rural any other means of transport is not an option for us but I do limit my trips to town to mostly once and occasionally twice a week.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Ooh boy. I'm not frugal or sustainable here. I'm in a rural area of Michigan, about 20 minutes from the Lake Michigan shore. We have no mass transit, trains, buses. I'm a 15 mile round trip from a gas station or basic stores. Its 35 miles round trip to "the city" where pretty much everything is at. I try to group my excursions the best I can, unless someone in the house forgets a prescription or something like that. I drove a regular car for years and don't feel comfortable with that now so I have 4-wheel drive. I'm off on vacation next week and will be 10 miles from the Lake Superior shore and the potential of sudden heavy snow and backwoods water-logged trails. The only bicycles up there are 4 wheel drive ATV's. :)

    And I would never move to a location with all that transit opportunity and people....I crave the solitude and will just have to spend the money on gas.

    ReplyDelete
  25. We visited relatives living in a suburb of Logan and were amazed by the public transport system in Brisbane. We could take a bus (or a short drive) to the shopping plaza where there was a mega bus terminal that linked us to all parts of Brisbane and beyond. The dedicated bus roads were brilliant and quick, and, they linked with trains and the ferry system. We hoped on and off bus, ferry, train and saw all the sights Brisbane and surrounds had to offer for just the price of a regular fare. And we could take the train to the airport. Everything worked so well very unlike car congested Melbourne. Well done Queensland, you are showing us the way.

    Here in my home town we walk to the local shops for day today supplies. It is quicker to walk than to drive and park. We are a two car family and can't avoid being so because of our work locations. Public transport links are very poor to where we work and using the bus/train system would more than double our travel time. One car is on gas and the second is a little Suzuki that replaced a big Magna. Changing from a big to a small car made a huge difference in petrol costs and my emissions. I am also mindful about how I drive and I plan my driving so that I am not darting back and forth all the time especially during peak traffic times. It would be best to reduce my dependency on the car even further. Like you we don't travel by plane if we can avoid it. I am constantly amazed at the number of people taking short plane trips interstate and/or overseas holidays without any thought about the impact they have on the environment. For many taking the plane to see a show in another state is like taking the train into town. I can't comprehend this sort of behaviour.

    ReplyDelete
  26. My copy of Changing Gears arrived yesterday and I can't wait to get stuck into it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a good read, Michelle. Let me know what you think of it.

      Delete
  27. I have taken to riding to work. It's about 20 minutes, keeps me fit (well is getting me fit!) and I love how you notice more on a bike than quizzing past in the car.
    I'm aiming for two to three times a week, weather permitting.
    Best thing I've done in years.
    Would love to get a hybrid car - too pricey for me at the moment.
    X

    ReplyDelete
  28. Matt and I recently did some calculating and figured in car insurance alone we've saved $5,000 since we reduced to a one-car household. And that isn't the gas, oil, tires, etc! Plus, cycling to work is just more enjoyable.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for your comment today. I love reading your opinions and thoughts. We have built up a wonderfully diverse community here that I'm very proud to be a part of.

A link to your blog will be automatically added to your comment. Please don't add another link to your blog in your comment. Those comments will not be published.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...