Here are the stories of six people who broke up with their cars to start living happier, healthier, and more sustainable lives.
They are parents, CEOs, environmentalists — people from all walks of life — who realised that a life without a personal car has more to offer than life with one.
Meet Hendrik, a 30-year-old photographer and father of two
Hendrik saw his future through the lens of the stereotypical suburban dream — a life on the edge of the city with two cars. But the plan changed, and the family ended up living in the city centre instead.
That allowed Hendrik to drop their second car and rekindle an old flame from a decade ago — a cargo bike. This practical vehicle could fit the family’s groceries and their two kids. In fact, in Hendrik’s congested home town, the preschool is closer by bike than by car.
Hendrik believes his kids could be in the first generation that doesn’t rush to get a driver’s licence as soon as they turn 18. And that in 10 years, cargo bikes could be a widely used means of transport on the streets. Read Hendrik’s full story here.
Meet Silvia, an environment-conscious executive coach
As an executive coach with expertise in sustainable performance, Silvia had always prided herself on building teams that put people and sustainability first.
The COVID-19 pandemic and remote work created a good moment for Silvia to rethink travel and let her sustainable side prevail. She moved back to a smaller, walkable university town and sold her car.
“Sustainable can mean multiple things,” said Silvia. “It’s used in the context of climate, but it also means that a person feels well and can move around in natural surroundings.”
By spending at least one hour outside every day, that’s exactly what she does. And in our overstimulating world, that’d make a great habit for just about anyone.
Meet Liina, an international executive who found a shortcut to a social life
Watching her car sit idle for 95% of the time, yet needy for maintenance, Liina realised that the 13-year-long relationship with her Citroën was coming to an end.
Liina felt she’d been living a wasteful life and wanted to be a better role model for her teenage daughter. Getting rid of her car was part of a bigger plan to become more sustainable.
She hasn’t stopped driving completely, though. Liina enjoys being behind the wheel, just not sitting in car parks or traffic jams. When she needs to move around, she tends to rely on ride-hailing services, or car-sharing.
Liina doesn’t push her decision on anybody but has inspired people around her to consider going car-free. Read Liina’s full story here.
Meet Kadri, a tech entrepreneur who cut costs and doubled her step count
Kadri is the CEO of a technology company focused on learning and well-being. On her own path to designing a happier life, she quickly realised that a personal car doesn’t fit the agenda.
When Kadri lived in the suburbs, their family had two cars to reach jobs in opposite parts of the city and to drop off their daughter.
After moving to the city centre, Kadri decided to depart with her cute Fiat 500. That fit nicely with her minimalist lifestyle, which helped her focus on the important things.
When she isn’t using public transport, Kari uses an electric car to travel long distances. And when it rains, she relies on ride-hailing to get around. Her new travel lifestyle requires zero maintenance, saves hundreds of euros in petrol and parking costs each month.
Meet Aivar, a car guy turned into a happy passenger
Aivar has lived a colourful life in his 61 years. He’s been an athlete, an actor, an entrepreneur, and a mentor. He’s helped many people realise their potential and loves being around his fellow citizens.
Aivar used to be a big car enthusiast who’d get new models straight from the factory. But as he got older, he started seeing more value in moving and being among people. He thinks owning a car has become sort of a cult that justifies paying any price for the illusion of freedom and status.
Aivar’s conscious switch to public transport reduced the family’s expenses and allowed him to read and arrive well-rested.
He left the car cult a little over a year ago and found the effects immediately liberating. Aivar calls himself a happy passenger, as he made the change willingly. “I’ve learned through personal experience that people develop by getting out of their comfort zones,” he says.