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.
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.
All of a sudden, a whole new world opened up. She often met old friends while biking to work and, as an outgoing person, started making new friends on public transport. Since going car-free, she’s received and given more compliments than ever.
Liina doesn’t push her decision on anybody but has inspired people around her to consider going car-free.
Meet Anna-Greta, a mother of four who won back all her lost time
When Anna-Greta had her third child, she sat at home for months, as did their Subaru Legacy. After returning to work, she found she enjoyed using her bicycle more and so she got rid of her car.
Some would assume that for a mother of four, that’s a logistical nightmare. But for Anna-Greta, life became easier — no more trips to the carwash or acting as the family driver.
She could finally take back all the time lost on the road or in traffic, which was more than six hours per month based on her calculations. Anna-Greta repurposed the newly found time to expand her tech company in the forestry sector.
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.