Low-car diet: too much stuff

I think the hardest thing, so far, about reducing my dependence on my car is all my stuff. Not only do I have the typical human things to take with me everywhere -- money, cell phone, spare clothes, beverages, books, laptop, power cord, camera, knitting, all those things I might use while I'm out -- but then there are my two young children, and all their gear.

It requires discipline, or a stronger back.

Either way, I have to laugh. Our car has become a storage container. I stop in before heading out to catch the bus for spare change for my fare, or to collect that extra package of diaper wipes I know is under the passenger seat. Our car is where we keep the car seats (we take them with us if someone's giving us a ride), the maps, the bags to be donated to Goodwill.

The other hardest thing? Bringing stuff home. It's a lot harder when you're travelling by bike, or bus. Especially when (like me) you have a 30-pound toddler to carry, as well.

Read more of Sarah Gilbert's Low-Car Diet:

I've mostly addressed this issue by making many small trips. I'll fill my small backpack to bursting with the really heavy, breakable groceries (i.e. milk and wine), and the rest will hang off one or two plastic bags from the handlebars. Note to self: buy rack for the back of the bike for milk and wine.

I'll take the jogging stroller to Trader Joe's (luckily, only three blocks from home) and load the bottom with canned goods, stuffing bread and eggs and herbs in the pockets.

Unfortunately, the bike trailer with which we were blessed (free, a hand-me-down from a friend who never used it) has no separate storage space for bags of groceries, extra diapers, picnic blankets, my telephoto lens. Note to self (2): if you end up saving any of the money you save, buy super cushy bike trailer with lots of room for groceries.

The other really, really hard thing about transporting oneself and onestuff without a car is that you lose your mobile storage unit. Let's say I have my camera, my laptop, some dry goods I've picked up at the grocery store, and my babe, and I'm off to hang out with some friends at the knitting cafe. With the car, I'd leave most of the valuables (and yes, toilet paper is a valuable) locked up safe in the car. Now? I have to bring everything in with me.

Note to self (3): never buy toilet paper on the way to meet a friend at a cafe.

The silver lining, naturally, is that I've been forced to do less stuff. My husband is happy and, in my bathroom storage closet, I have plenty of empty space.

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