Day 132: Our Car is Not On the Clean Bin Program

subaruOur car doesn’t seem to understand the Clean Bin Project.  It is trying to thwart our clean bins with broken auto parts and old engine oil.  Well, at least the latter can be recycled.  But buying new parts in almost unavoidable.

Now, before you all go into shock, yes it’s true.  We have a car.  Actually, our household has (gasp) two cars.  Rhyannon has one and Grant and I have one.  (we haven’t been roommates that long, otherwise we’d probably all share).

Nobody drives to the office or to the local grocery store or anything excessive like that, but we do use them on the weekends.  I’m not trying to justify it, I’m just being honest.  We like to go snowboarding.  In the backcountry.  A lot.  And you need a reliable, preferably 4 wheel drive vehicle to get there.

Renting tiny city cars for ski trips was getting silly and dangerous.  Plus, with Grant doing filming all over the place, it’s impractical to try to cart video equipment via public transit.  But still, I feel guilty telling people I own a vehicle.  And even more so because it isn’t a hybrid or a biodiesel, it’s an all-wheel drive.  I can’t have one of those “one less car” stickers on my bicycle; I need a sticker that says “I left my car at home today on purpose”.

But the point is that we’re trying not to buy stuff or throw stuff away, and, to be honest, the car is all about stuff.  Checking stuff, maintaining stuff, buying new stuff to replace the old, rusty stuff.  You can’t get secondhand brake pads for a car (can you?), and that’s where we’re at.  We apparently needed new front brakes and rotors.

I know it’s transportation based, so it is technically ok to buy new auto parts according to the rules, but it still feels wrong.rotor

So imagine my surprise when I went to pick the car up this morning, and my friendly mechanic, Steve, informed me that they recycle old rotors and even brake pads to the scrap metal guy.  We wouldn’t have to cart them home to our own recycling bins after all.  Actually, when Steve heard about the Clean Bin Project, he went on to tell me all about how their office has starting recycling all papers and plastics in addition to the government mandated fluids like engine oil, which was really great to hear.

So my bin can remain car-part free for now, but I still have to write the new auto parts on the “stuff I bought” list which now reads “dishwashing soap, brakes and rotors”.  Still ok for 4 months worth of purchasing.

On a side note, I know there are lots of eco-bloggers out there (like here and here) who do still have cars, but there seem to be more (like here and here) who have sworn off them.  So I have a question.  Do you just do your normal car repairs, or do you spend weeks sourcing used parts?  Do you drive a new, fuel-efficient vehicle, or a re-used clunker?  And if you have given up your car, did that change your lifestyle?  Do you find yourself getting out of the city less?  I mean, transit and bikes are great in the city, and we use them all the time, but for some reason, despite our waste-free household, we can’t seem to get out of the habit of being chained to the weekend convenience of our comfy, warm, four-wheel, fossil fuel burning automobile.



Filed under recycling

5 responses to “Day 132: Our Car is Not On the Clean Bin Program

  1. Honestly, I never gave up my car because I never had one to begin with. Therefore, I’ve always lived in places with good public transit out of necessity. I understand that people who live out in the suburbs or country will have different transportation needs.

    But here’s the thing: I do still drive. Sometimes, when I need a car on the weekends, I rent a Zip Car, which is a car-sharing company rather than a car rental company. It’s easier and faster to get in and get out. Does Vancouver have car-sharing companies?

    If so, you might want to reconsider whether you really need to own a car. If you don’t need the car during the week to go to work or shopping, then belonging to a car-share can provide the little driving that you need at other times.

    The beauty is that you only pay for as much as you use. As a car owner, you pay for insurance even if the car sits in the driveway all year and is never driven. With a car-share, you pay an hourly rate for the car, and gas and insurance is included. If you don’t drive, you don’t pay.

    Just something to consider!


  2. Hey; great post! We have lots of salvage yards over here where you can get just about any car part second hand.

    In answer to your questions:

    Do you just do your normal car repairs, or do you spend weeks sourcing used parts?

    It depends how urgent it is – if I have notice and I know something needs replacing, I’ll get second hand, but in an emergency I’ll buy new.

    Do you drive a new, fuel-efficient vehicle, or a re-used clunker?

    In between. We’ve just gotten rid of our 4×4 for a MPV. The 4×4 did 23 mpg and the ‘new’ car does 60mpg. I NEVER buy new cars though; always second hand.

    Personally, I would never go car-less. We live in the country, run a woodburner and I need to go out and gather wood for it. Plus, to get our daughter to her clubs and friend’s houses we need transport. We would be totally cut off around here without it. BUT, we only do about 6000 miles per year, which is way below the average for a family.

    If I lived in the city, I might do as Beth does and hire a car once a year for a short holiday, but I have to admit, I like the 21st century luxury of a car……….

  3. Jen CleanBin

    Thanks for the comments guys.

    As for the car share, we do have two car shares in Vancouver, Zipcar (a private company) and the Car Co-op (a co-op).

    I am a member of the car co-op, and we did use their cars for a couple years. They are great and pretty convenient. If you wanted to go away for the weekend and you were going more than 100km, it was cheaper to rent a car. We were spending $200-250/month between rentals and the co-op, so we decided for not much more we could conveniently have our own car.

    In the past we have always owned beaters, so it’s nice to have a reliable, dry car. It’s efficient for its class, but not compared to your car Mrs. Green!

    I still have the co-op membership in the hopes that we might pry ourselves away from our car. Also, it’s great if we need to use a van or a truck to move things, and you don’t pay if you don’t use it.

  4. Rob

    I’ve always maintained that a well-cared-for beater is better for the environment than purchasing a new, even fuel-efficient vehicle. I’ve never seen a comparison on this and I could very well be wrong, but I have a feeling that a lot more carbon gets put into the environment in manufacturing a new, fuel-efficient vehicle than extending the life of an old, less fuel-efficient beater a few extra years. I also find that having a non-fuel efficient beater forces me to plan out my trips more efficiently and discourages driving solo.

    I’ve also come to the same conclusion about car co-ops: great for running around the city but quite expensive for getting out of town. As for rental cars, the insurance is voided as soon as you take it off road (don’t ask). Like you, I have the luxury of not needing a car for day-to-day living and instead use the vehicle most for getting myself and my friends out into the great outdoors, so I have a beater 4×4 that I own with 2 other people.

    The real kicker though with that situation is insurance. ICBC won’t allow liability to be spread evenly across all of the car owners. Car-sharing isn’t on their radar at all. There always has to be one primary car owner/operator, and regardless of who is driving the car at the time of an accident it is the primary car owner that is liable and gets sued if they own the vehicle that’s at fault. So even if the other 2 people I share the car with are listed as secondary owners or operators of the vehicle, it is (in this case) my insurance rating that goes up if they’re in an accident.

    We thought we had a clever work-around by creating a company in which we were the 3 principles and then have the company insure the car, but ICBC still requires a person to be listed as the primary owner. Sigh.

  5. Jen CleanBin

    That’s crazy! You should talk to the car co-op about how they do their insurance because I can’t imagine there’s one guy taking all the liability for the 200 cars they have. . . .

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