In New Zealand our car ownership rate is one of the highest in the OECD and each year, we drive a collective 49 billion kilometres. I knew our transport habits were having a massive impact on the environment, but there was one stat that really got me thinking… nearly a third of all car trips that kiwis make are short trips, less than two kilometres.*
I’d always felt like using my car less was going to be too impractical for my lifestyle, but maybe there were a couple of short trips I was making that could be a good place to start? So I challenged myself to look at skipping just one short trip in my car.
Here are a few of the approaches that have worked to get me out of my car:
- Skip it: I have a tendency to want do everything now. If a chore needs doing, my default would normally be to jump in the car and get it done as soon as time allows. But I’ve learnt to engage my inner Operations Manager and ask if there’s a more efficient way of doing things. If I wait until tomorrow maybe I can combine a trip? It saves money, saves transport emissions, and often saves me time.
- Get active: Instead of jumping in the car, I now question if I can switch to an active mode of transport. Maybe I could walk, cycle, scooter or even roller skate? For a short trip, it might take me an extra 10mins, but I’m often trying to find time in my day for exercise, and this is a great way to knock two things off in one hit!
- Share: Whether it’s taking the kids to a sports practice, heading to a meeting, or going out for a social event, I normally know someone else that is making the same trip. A quick bit of forward planning and text messaging often means we can carpool – and I love the social aspect of sharing a ride.
- Family time: I’ve found that switching up the way we get around can be a really cool way to connect as a family. Whether it’s walking the kids to school, biking together to a play date, or scootering to the dairy – even if it’s only one day a week, it’s a pretty cool way to slow things down a bit, get outside and connect with each other.
Being more sustainable isn’t an all-or-nothing game, and I often find that focusing on the small incremental changes I can make is a great way to create momentum. Getting out of our cars can feel like a really big deal, but challenging ourselves to do just ONE short car trip differently can be a simple way to kickstart a new habit.