We have not owned a car now for more than 18 months. When we moved here to Valencia getting my driving license was a very high priority. I mean, we’re Americans. You can take the Americans out of America, but you can’t take the America out of the Americans. Well, it turns out you actually can.
Sure, we had Jeff’s motorcycle shipped over. And we used it here and there for a few adventures. But the bike mostly sat unused. We walk everywhere and we use public transport or ride share services. We haven’t really needed a car. But that hasn’t stopped me from looking. It’s just been hard to justify while living in Valencia. If we need to go outside the city we take a train – usually. And on a very rare occasion, when where we want to go can’t be reached by train and then a taxi, we can rent a car for almost nothing. We don’t pay car insurance unless it’s for a rental.
But it’s more than that. This summer has been the hottest on record, all over the planet. The Amazon is on fire and the glaciers around the globe are melting at an alarming rate. As humans, we should be very afraid of what is going on. Jeff and I were just talking about our trip to the Arctic Circle on his motorcycle in Alaska, over coffee this morning. The Boreal forests, and the permafrost holding up the Alaska oil pipeline as we rode up the treacherous Dalton Highway north of Fairbanks. Well, this year that permafrost is melted, and the tundra and those pine trees are on fire. Unprecedented.
I’ve been holding off on buying a car because I wanted to ensure that we were as responsible as possible. Sure, I looked at our old standby Audi. My little TT. But Audi doesn’t have a good alternative fuel and I just can’t pull the trigger – I wouldn’t feel good driving it. But the real question surrounding purchasing a car was if we really needed one. Now that we’re looking to move – mostly permanently – to Galicia, it’s not really a choice. The answer being ‘Yes’; the second questions is more about how we might go fully electric and the viability of being able to get across the the country.
Luckily for us the EU, and Spain in particular, is ramping up their charging networks and stations on major highways by the end of 2019. Iberdrola is leading the way and soon they will complete a network with a station no more than every 100km. We’ll be able to criss-cross the country on electric power. So going fully electric is getting more viable.
But what about charging at home? There are no facilities to charge a car in our garage here in Valencia. So a plug-in electric/hybrid or, my preference, a fully electric car isn’t possible while we live in our flat in Benimachlet. But looking at the future, I can’t imagine purchasing a solely petrol powered car. Pumping the same old carbon into the air – like we did with all our SUV’s in the US. In this day and age it seems irresponsible to inflict that on our friends and neighbors when we have so many alternatives. And they’re wildly affordable in Europe – unless we go Tesla or the like.
But what about the rest of our carbon footprint and plastic waste? Now we’re looking at other things in our lives that are large contributors to carbon emissions. I’ve cut nearly all the beef from our diet. Jeff used to eat A LOT of beef and pork. We’re shifting to chicken and more sustainably raised protein/meats. And it’s healthier anyway.
Then we started looking even more closely at the small stuff. When you buy vegetables in a supermarket here, you put on a plastic glove to pick up the apple, potato, whatever and place it in a plastic bag. So the waste adds up. When I go to buy cheese at the cheese monger – he wraps it in paper and seals it before putting it in a plastic bag. But then I found these and they’re only one of a dozen alternatives:
We are bound and determined to avoid buying things that are made with plastics. Sure it means we’ll be taking our grocery trolley to the store more often because plastic packaging is lighter than glass. But we’re willing to make the switch, whenever it’s possible, to make that choice.
We’re not perfect eco-warriors, but we’re doing what we can, when we can. So it seems I’ll wait until we are set on where we’ll be living up in Galicia and then we’ll make our decisions on a car. But in the meantime, it feels really good to know that in the last 18 months, we’ve significantly, and consciously, reduced our overall carbon footprint. Now we just need to find a way to get back to family in the US with the least emissions possible. Covered wagon – here we come!! At least our luggage would get there when we do.