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Ditching the car – save money as well as the planet

The case for giving up owning a car is compelling. Benefits include saving more than £3,500 per year – equivalent to a very nice family holiday. But it's savings for the planet that really matter, and as Earth Day 2024 approaches, this is one person's inspirational story

Anne Snelson
18 April 2024
Anne and the car she gave up – with no regrets
Anne and the car she gave up – with no regrets


It’s a year since I sold my Audi A3 convertible. It was a 50th birthday present to myself, and while (like its owner) it was getting a bit long in the tooth, it still drove fine.

So why did I give it up?  

In November 2022, I did the Carbon Literacy Project online course. It hit me at once we need climate action now. Before that, like most people, I was aware and concerned but felt we had time to “sort things out” before 2050. 

The CLP course showed that isn’t true. To stabilise temperatures, we need to peak worldwide emissions by 2025 and halve them by 2030. UK transport emissions must reduce by 70% by 2035. That’s some challenge.

To gain CLP certification, you pledge to reduce your emissions.

My pledge was to cut car use.

What did I do?

Between November and February, I simply asked myself if every journey was needed. Was there an alternative way of travelling with lower emissions? Could I merge journeys and do one trip rather than two? I made it a game to see how many journeys I could save.

After two months of doing this, my battery was flat through lack of use. The relative trauma of sitting there for 40 minutes, wasting petrol and spewing fumes to recharge it (going nowhere), was enough to convince me. I bit the bullet and sold it. 

How has it been?

To begin with, I felt I was missing a comfort blanket. My first few “required trips” took some planning. But I found it exhilarating finding new ways of travelling under my own steam. 

There’s a great sense of elation when it works. From going on the train from Farnham to St Andrews with my dog, Skye (tube the worst bit). To regularly cycling (again with Skye – this time in a pannier) to see my friend 4 miles away.

How much am I saving?

This is the big bonus. The savings are significant. 

I was a “buy second hand, keep it till it falls apart” consumer. Even so, annualised savings are substantial. 

Estimates per annum – over £3,500 (equivalent to a very nice family holiday)...

  • Purchase/depreciation - £1,000
  • Insurance - £350
  • Maintenance, tyres and services – £750
  • Fuel – £1000 
  • Tax – £290
  • MOT - £50
  • Parking - £100

Are there any downsides?

After a year of being carless, I can honestly say not many. 

I have limited my journeys a bit. I take fewer trips to the seaside but make up for it when I’m in Scotland. My parents live a mile from the sea.

Will I never drive again?

For some trips you need a car and I’m not averse to hiring for those.

My daughter had to get to university, so I used one for that. My sister-in-law is generously covering the end-of-year trip, as part of a trip coming to stay with us. With her student railcard, it’s significantly cheaper for my daughter to travel by train for mid-year holidays.

What I love about trains

I’ve become a real train fan. It’s so much more pleasant, especially for long trips. I used to drive 10-11 hours to and from Scotland and would end up stressed, exhausted and with a bad back. 

Now I work or chat to people. The pooch is very sociable, so we make lots of friends onboard.

How to go about it

There’s no need to give up your car overnight. Cut a few journeys. Car share with others. See if there’s an option for an alternative commute. Walk, train, cycle or use the bus. You’ll feel healthier too. 

Every journey saved is a bonus – reducing money, emissions and fuel. So why not see what you can save over the coming year? And remember that everyone has a role to play in creating a more sustainable world. Whether we can make big or small changes – they all matter more than ever. So what will your carbon pledge be?


Anne Snelson is a certified Carbon Literacy Project Trainer for the Transport sector and founder of consultancy, Lead With Sustainability

Find out more here:

Landor LINKS: a carbon literacy journey

Landor LINKS is currently going through the process of becoming a low carbon company and are en route to becoming an accredited Carbon Literate Organisation. More than half of our staff members have already completed Carbon Literacy training, and made both personal and professional pledges to lower their emissions in various ways. Before long, all staff members will have completed the training and become carbon literate. A low carbon ethos is being embedded in all our processes and actions and also being passed up and down our supply chain to our partners and stakeholders.

Earth Day, 22 April, 2024

Earth Day – April 22 in 2024 – is a reminder of the importance of environmental conservation and sustainability, encouraging people to come together and take action for a healthier planet and brighter future.

EARTHDAY.ORG’s mission is to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. Growing out of the first Earth Day in 1970, EARTHDAY.ORG is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, working with more than 150,000 partners in over 192 countries to drive positive action for our planet. 

Through various events, toolkits, and initiatives, it aims to raise awareness, inspire change, and foster a deeper connection with nature. Let's unite in our efforts to protect the Earth today and for generations to come. Together, we can make a meaningful impact and create a more sustainable world.

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