Environmental hypocrisy

Is it hypocritical to care about the environment and drive a petrol powered car?

I know I am privileged to live in a city with clean, regular and fast public transport options, which given reasonable options, I often use. I rarely drive into the city. The train is just too convenient and fast. However, I always drive to work as it would take a train and a bus and triple the length of my journey. Of course during COVID, I’ve been minimising the use of public transport and haven’t gone into the city much at all.

Mr S and I love road trips, and took several long ones during the summer holidays. There’s no public transport options for those. Though I suppose we could visit one place for a longer period of time.

I drive to the gym when I could catch a train. But the convenience! And the time! I know it’s ironic that rather than “waste” time walking to the station (all of 6 minutes!) and walking from the station at the other end (equally short!), I drive so I have time to work out. I should investigate whether the trains will meet my class times and not involve much waiting. I suppose I’ve just assumed I’d have to wait and the train times wouldn’t align with my classes.

On the upside, Mr S and I walk. A lot. We walk to the local supermarkets with our reusable bags or our nanna trolley. (If we’re doing a big shop, we do drive.) Mr S has even walked with a moving trolley to the local bottle shop to buy cases of beer! I walk to the public library. We walk up to our local restaurants and pub. Mr S walks to work – every single day!!!

I drive a recent model small car. It is very fuel efficient. I’m really happy with it. But is it enough?

The reduction in cars on the road has made such a difference to our air quality in Sydney, without the concerns about carbon emissions. According to the book I have just read, which was also a TV series here in Australia, Fight for Planet A, transport makes up around 19% of our total emissions, with 60% coming from the cars we drive.

What next?

The idiotic conservatives in power have mocked electric cars. God, they even want to build a new coal powered electric plant because private industry doesn’t.

After reading Fight for Planet A, my next car won’t be an electric car.


Yes, that’s right. Because I don’t have solar power, I would be recharging my car using coal powered electricity.

I’m getting a hybrid car. The car creates its own electricity from breaking. As a urban driver, I break a lot! And as a holiday road trip driver, I won’t have to worry about finding recharging stations in the country.

OK, this isn’t going to happen for about three years. I’m happy with my little car and won’t change it over yet. And, of course, things may change in three years.

Here’s my next car:

Tell me what do you drive? And do you use public transport? If not, why not?

16 thoughts on “Environmental hypocrisy

  1. Oh yes, I’m an ‘in denial’ driver – back to driving to work every day – only my 9 months as a contractor and 6 months at the funeral home did I regularly not use a car (train or walking). Shame on me.

    To be honest, the traffic these last few days has made me rather stressed, I almost should look into public transport.

    North Shore and thereabouts, where you live, isn’t well served by frequent train services I’ve found (when I worked near Normanhurst). And hills – they really impact the comfort of walking/biking! As does our humidity and rain – which aren’t impossible to overcome (when I took the govt contract, I decided I’d drive on rainy days and otherwise catch the train – it was a compromise which was overall better for the world, right?).

    I’m also guilty – my car is bigger than it really needs to be AND a diesel. I’ll show myself out.

    • A inner city girl with a big diesel!!?? I didn’t think it fitted together. Our trains come every 15 minutes, which is good enough, but if you’re a distance from the station you are stuffed. Luckily I am right between two of them. Yes, humidity and hills are killers for walking. As to biking, I don’t think it is an option in Sydney. The bike paths are really either just gutters or car parking lanes. And people, while getting better, have little respect. I loved German cities with the dedicated bike paths, and the view that bikes have the right of way. If you hit them in a car, you are always in the wrong!

  2. I drive everywhere. There is no public transportation available to me and the U.S. in general is horrible for public transportation. It also is not really walkable. There is a lot of suburban sprawl. I live on the edge of a small town and everything I need–stores, library, schools, etc.–is miles away. Even when I have lived in bigger towns they have not been laid out in a way that encourages walking and the buses have been very limited.

    • Oh yes. When we visited Mr S’s cousin who lives just outside of Sacramento, it was even more a car culture than here. Mr S and I walked to the local shops and got lots of looks – I am sure we looked very suspicious. And it was hard to walk into the centre – it was designed for car entry.

      My boys walked to their local high school and their after-school sport training. Or skate. Makes it so much easier for families.

  3. Like Jennifer, I live in the US and out in the country where there is no public transportation and all services like a grocery store are at least five miles away. Even when I commuted to work, I had to drive (100 miles RT). Retired now, but cannot even walk out of my small neighborhood unless I’m feeling suicidal. The road out of my neighborhood has no sidewalks, not even shoulders and is windy and hilly with traffic frequently going more than 50mph. And did I mention the idiot drivers texting on their phones while driving these roads? I don’t have a death wish. So anywhere I need to go requires me to drive. I have a Subaru Outback AWD – almost 10 years old, but in mint condition. Garage kept. Don’t plan to buy a new car anytime soon, but an electric car wouldn’t get me too far as distances are an issue and there aren’t any charging stations in my area. Think folks with hybrids are a bit shocked when they have to replace their batteries–can cost $8-10k.

    • That does make it difficult to walk anywhere or use anything other than a car. I like being able to walk to shops, library, restaurants and public transport and it has always been a requirement of any house we bought. Yes, the battery is expensive, but it comes with a long warranty and I think by the time I have a hybrid and the car is a few years in, the technology will be so much further and the industry advanced, that the cost will come down. Look to Europe: they are moving to electric cars. Economies of scale will reduce the cost.

  4. We have poor transport here where I live. Our little town which is more of a large villlage used to have its own railway station into the main town 6 miles away. It was closed and a supermarket has since been built on the site. The buses are awful – smelly and dirty and expensive. On the good side we have used our cars very little this year because of the virus. when the time comes to change DH’s I have no idea what we will get and much will depend on price. Love your new car though.

    • Oh Vivien, that isn’t my new car yet. And as I hardly wash my car, even if it was my car, it wouldn’t look like that for long.

      What a shame taking out the train line! I’m not a fan of buses. Much prefer trains.

      Governments who are serious about lower emissions, subsidise public transport. Opposite of what I believe happened in England with selling off of trains. So much more expensive than France and Germany.

  5. I am not buying an electric car yet for the exact reason you cited: I would have to charge it using electricity derived from coal. We have buses from 6 am to 11 pm but no rapid transit. Rom takes the bus to work, 60 minutes each way plus bus-stop waiting time at each end, and unreliable service. Averages 90 minutes twice a day. Could reduce that to 45 minutes with car, door to door. I am not a martyr, won’t do it! Drive to work 20 minutes each way.

  6. Still driving my little 1.3 cylinder engine petrol car. It’s just clicked over to 80,000km and about to turn 6 years old. It’s amongst the lowest emissions of any petrol car in Australia & runs like new, so I’m not in any rush to replace it. Embodied energy and all that jazz. I’ll drive this one into the ground & then reassess. Keen to get an electric next but literally anything could happen between now and then!

  7. Well, right now, I commute from the kitchen to the dining room. Ahem. BUT back in the olden days (like, you know. Early 2020) I walked to work every day and home most days – I do pilates one night a week, don’t finish til 6.30, and would have a 40 minute walk home afterwards. And if it’s hot, I will melt. So, get an uber on pilates night. Uber is cheaper than parking near work, and the closest free all day parking is like 30 minutes from work. So, no point! I do drive on occasion and then I have to remember a) that I drove and b) where I left the car.

    We are motoring enthusiasts, so have a ridiculous number of vehicles at our place (six cars that are fully operational, and two that are projects. Along with *three* motorcycles. And a boat.) Of that great long list, only three are what you would call “daily drivers”. We debated not getting a second car for a while (my son has one, we have one each) as I walk to work and Reg *could* walk to work but doesn’t. But in the three month trial of one car, there were enough times that one or the other of us was waiting for the car to come home. So, we have a car each. We have the giant 7 seater and a neat little car and we both drive either interchangeably. The giant car is mostly at home because Reg takes the little car to work.

    • We have three cars among four. Eldest son refused to get his licence so no need for a car.

      If I only drove occasionally, I’d forget if I did and where I parked. Once parked at a train station after French lessons and caught train to city for lunch and theatre. Caught train home. Forgot car. Which was on different line, quite a distance from home.

      What about biking in Canberra? It’s flat and with bike tracks – like it’s been designed for riding! And like it’s a designed city with brilliant infrastructure. Oh yes, cause it is!

      • Oh yes it is. And I believe even the public transport goes in sensible places and matches with other public transport. Who would have thought planning could work so well. I am seriously considering an e-bike to deal with all the actually quite small if you’re in a car hills between here and work. However, the whole staying at home business is really making me think twice about it.

  8. We live in a small town, so pretty much everything is within walking distance if we are not being lazy.

    My husband walks the 2.5km to and from work each day, but we do have a 20 year old car that lives at his work and is driven home for his lunch break. And he drives to work at night when he is called in for an emergency.

    I have to nag our daughter to walk the 700m to and from work, but she is getting into a better habit now.

    Pre-covid I was working on getting into the habit of taking a backpack out with me every time I needed to walk into town so I could stop by the supermarket and walk home with a bag of food. Now that (home)school is back on I’m working on aligning my shopping trip with the day I drive my son across town for his tennis lesson. We have done the walk to tennis a few times, but it turns it into a three hour journey out of my day.

    When it comes time to replace one of our two cars (the other car is 10 years old) we will seriously investigate electric. We buy 100% green power through the electricity company, but think it is probably a better use of resources to completely use up the cars we currently have before buying a new one.

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