• Commuting

Big or Small? What Changes Are The Right Changes

By The MacInnis-Boudreau Household

Before we embarked upon the LIVE NET ZERO challenge, we knew we wanted to do two things: 

  1. Make meaningful changes in our lives.
  2. Stick to them long after the Challenge has ended.

It’s a lot easier to do one big thing than it is to do many small things to build a habit. Anyone can go to the gym once and do a monster workout; the trick is getting there consistently. That’s where the challenge really lies. 

It would be easy to do something big and bold for two weeks. But making changes we can hold onto long term? We knew this was the sweet spot we needed to find and commit to.

Even before we began the Commuting Challenge, for months before, we questioned the viability of going down to a single vehicle. As a family of four (and soon to be five), we wondered whether we could make it work. And, after several months of expensive repairs with our second, older car, it seemed like as good a chance as any to give it a whirl. We parked my 2013 Hyundai Elantra in mid-August and decided to get creative and communicative when it came to our needs for trips by car.

I won’t lie: it’s been hard, and not made easier by the fact that I’m now nine months pregnant! (I forgot how hard it is to lug a big ol’ baby belly around!) And, truthfully, it taught us a lot… 

I originally planned to sell my car, optimistic we could make it work with a single car for all of our running around. But, as Marc travels for work quite often and I need a car to get to my clients (I’m self-employed), plus do daycare drop-offs and sports travel with our sons, the reality quickly made itself known: We are – at least in this season of our lives – a two-car household. So, instead of selling my car privately, I’m thrilled to be trading it in for a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), which we’re now on a wait list for! This will allow us to park Marc’s car more often and use our PHEV for trips that require a vehicle. It’s both a big change and a small change. Our new vehicle will arrive late this year and until then, we’ll continue to finagle single car family life. 

As we wrap up our Commuting Challenge, I’m excited about the progress we made. 

  • I walked almost 40km the first week, and about 35 the second – waddling to and from appointments. 
  • Marc biked to meet up with friends rather than driving, and took the bike and backpack to the grocery store for small orders.
  • We had groceries delivered.
  • Marc and I carpooled, often rearranging our schedules and planning around one another’s appointment times so we could take one car and make just one trip. 
  • Finley, our 13 year old, walked and used public transit almost entirely. 
  • We all errand-stacked, ensuring we did all of the things in a particular area at once. We shopped at different stores to avoid extra driving.
  • I decided not to renew my gym membership at a fitness studio several kilometres from home and instead will attend a gym near our house, within walking distance and on a short bus route just steps from our door. 
  • And, Sebastian, who hates to be in the car, has enjoyed many a bonus walk in the stroller! 

It feels good knowing that these small changes are ones we can commit to long-term, and better still to know that we can improve upon them – step by step. 

– Ashley

Written by The MacInnis-Boudreau Household

Read more of their stories as they vie with the other seven households to reduce their carbon footprint.

Meet the The MacInnis-Boudreau Household
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