Five reasons to ditch the car (as often as possible).

By Jessica Beau Paul

We all know cars can be harmful to our waterways, but how can how can we motivate ourselves to not reach for the keys to the easy option?

When we brake, the friction between the brake pad and tyre creates fine particles of copper and other heavy metals, which is then deposited on the road. When it rains, these particles are washed into the gutters and through our storm water system, flowing directly into our rivers and lakes. It’s so fine that it can’t be caught with any kind of current filter on the drain.

This may not seem like a huge problem, after all – the dust particles of copper and heavy metals created from brake pad friction is miniscule. But consider the sheer amount of cars that are on the road day in and day out. The morning rush hour, the five o’clock rush. Cars being used, all day every day. So we’ve come up with five ways we can motivate ourselves to reach for the keys a bit less often:

  1. Petrol and parking are pricey.

Because most of us buy fuel as a necessity, there’s a tendency to all but ignore the price. But keep in mind that changes in season and geopolitical tensions affect petrol prices. Over the past few months petrol prices have increased by 10 cents (for a litre for 91 octane). This is about 15 cents higher than this time last year, according to AA Petrolwatch. What’s more, if you want to park in Auckland CBD, prices have increased up to $10 per hour! What would you rather spend your money on?

  1. Alternatives to the car.

We all tend to go on autopilot and jump in the car when we need to go somewhere, especially on winter mornings. But what if we take a moment to ask ourselves – can I walk, bike, bus train or scooter? There are also some great, affordable options to car ownership– such as ride share, car share, car pool, and online taxi services. Using some of these services could save you money when you consider your time, cost of petrol and parking. The Sustainable Business Network also has this handy Smart Transport Guide.

  1. Try doing your weekly shop online.

You could save time, effort and money. Consider the time and cost it takes to travel to and from the supermarket, the shop, the queues and the crowds, and then lugging it all home. An added benefit to online shopping is that you will be more likely to keep to your shopping list, rather than impulse buy unhealthy or unnecessary items.

  1. Shop local for the small stuff.

If you are lucky enough to live in an area with local shops, use them! Take your re-usable bag for a next time you run out of bread or broccoli, rather than adding an extra trip in the car.

  1. It’s good, for you.

Time spent not driving is good for your wellbeing. If you are using a ride-share or public transport, you save yourself the stress of the drive, and potentially get a bit of time to yourself. If you choose to walk or cycle, even better – it’s great for your mental wellbeing and for your waistline.