My Deep, Slow, car dilemma…
Yesterday the door of our old van fell off. Luckily we were not moving at the time. It had been getting harder to open the sliding door over some time. Actually the kids have been climbing in and out the windows rather than using the door for at least a month. (Once a girl in a park asked Pacha why she got out of the window and Pacha answered that the door was a bit stuck. When Pacha told me this story I said next time to say that your life is unique – just about everyone has a car with doors that open – not many people have one like a rally car where you have to go in through the windows…ha…rally car! – our car struggles to make it over 80kms per hour…).

Just about every child who has ridden in our van absolutely loves it. We call our 1983 Tarago: Emilou and we give her encouragement as she struggles up the hills (‘go Emilou – we love you – Go Emilou – we love you’). My sister’s two year old son Griffin pleads with me to ride in – ‘da bongo wagon’ because it is always so much fun – looking up through the skylight roof, singing as loud as we can to mask the noise of the engine, loading all the surfboards in the back, not worrying too much about sandy feet when we get back in…

And our ‘Emilou’ has been completely reliable over the past 6 years, taking us thousands of kilometres with almost no mechanical problems. I can’t count the many times she has been loaded to the gills with salvage building materials, or plants or soil or seaweed or manure or mulch – all the things we have used to create our slow life in Woombah.

A few years ago the odometer stopped going around – so I figure she has decided she is not getting any older, and since she is not moving anywhere she is not using any oil or water (I have never had to fill these). Lately she has had some trouble going backwards – but I figure that she is just taking on my own personality traits: never give up, always look forward to the next adventure!

But, owning a car is one of the biggest contradictions in trying to create our sustainable lifestyle. It pains me to fill her up with fossil fuel - the blood of the Earth. I see the images of oil spills and bedraggled birds and rage at the stupidity of humans in developing this shortsighted, selfish technology that modern humans have been given little choice but participate in. I feel so guilty that I am part of this insanity. I limit our driving as much as possible – around twice a week to the school or local town, once a month for a 2 hour trip to the Gold Coast – but it is still not right.

While people say it is ‘irresponsible’ to drive a polluting old car and instead should be a slightly less polluting 'new' car – I know that buying a new car means there are additional greenhouse emissions created just in the embodied energy to manufacture the car – so the longer I can avoid buying a 'new' car the less impact I have…or not?

So I am stuck. I ‘need’ another car. I live in the country where public transport is very limited and I want to keep my physical connections with my family and old Emilou is definitely ready for retirement. I look at the secondhand car web pages – but I am constantly searching for something that doesn’t seem to exist yet (and may never exist) – a car that doesn’t destroy the Earth.

My conclusion is to look for a secondhand small diesel car (used electric cars are not yet an option in Australia) – where I can at least fill up with bio-diesel in Byron Bay and at some point investigate making my own bio-diesel for fuel.

And perhaps one day I will be able to slow down enough to feel satisfied with just horseback or bicycle or my own two feet to feed this appetite to shift my horizons…

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