Eating Local for Urban Families. Gluten-free and Dairy-free, too!

Monday, October 8

Sell your car, plant a garden

It's official: I'm a member of Flexcar!

After reviewing some material I picked up at their booth at the Green Sprouts festival a few weeks ago I did the math and realized that my 10-year-old, paid off, totally reliable Subaru Impreza, which I drive about 100 miles a month, costs me about $200 a month in gas, insurance and maintenance. Imagine all the local eggs I could buy with $200 a month...

One of the ways Flexcar make membership attractive to me is the gas is free! You're expected to fill the tank if it gets below 1/4 tank, but they provide you with a gas card so you don't pay anything.

So we're in the midst of a little experiment: Can I go without the Subaru and rely our on our BioBeast (the Ford F250, which runs biodiesel) and alternative modes of transport for a month or two? If yes, we'll sell it. And I like extra money so I'm determined.

This is the Scion I drove on my Flexcar maiden voyage.

Truthfully, it drives like a tin can and the instruments are poorly designed. But it got me there.

Aaron bikes or takes the train to work so the BioBeast is home all day. But it's huge. Last week I had a meeting downtown where I knew the parking situation was going to be tight. Not wanting to risk circling until I found a spot big enough for the BioBeast, and then having to parallel park, I reserved a Flexcar. There's one parked about three blocks from my house--totally convenient. I gave myself about 15 extra minutes to walk, picked up the car without incident and made my way downtown without fear of sideswiping anyone!

So far, I've only driven the Subaru when I'm being lazy, I've been too sick to walk (like this week) or I haven't planned ahead. For example: I was all set to meet a friend down on Mississippi for dinner and could take the #6 bus almost door to door.

But Iris hadn't nursed for most of the day and I didn't think about this until it was almost time to leave. I nursed her...then Clara had a meltdown and didn't want me to leave. By the time I got out the door I saw from my porch the bus pulling away from the stop.

Not wanting to make my friend wait 20 minutes while I took the next bus or got on the laptop to reserve a Flexcar, and not wanting to parallel park the BioBeast, I drove my car. But looking back, had I not had another choice, I would have driven the truck, it just would have been a pain.

Don't know if this is Flexcar art or if it's from the city, but I love this sign

I'm not sure how often I'll use Flexcar so I bought one of the low-use plans. My ultimate goal is to use public transport or walk/run/bike as often as possible, but with my tight work schedule sometimes that just doesn't work. And as much as I am a believer in alternative fuels, that gigantic F250 just isn't always practical for urban driving. I'll likely only use Flexcar when I'm going somewhere by myself, such as work meetings, because I don't want to constantly change out carseats. When the kids come with me, we'll drive the BioBeast.

If this works, and so far it seems like it will, we'll have an extra $150 bucks or so in our pockets at the end of the month. This will come in handy when I start on next year's vegetable garden!


Donna said...

Wow... Good for you!!!

Anonymous said...

I wish we had something like Flexcar here in Lansing. My minivan gets horrible gas mileage!

admin said...

Wow, congrats on the Flexcar plan! Must be a great program in your area, otherwise I can't imagine parting with a Subaru!

2boysmom said...


I found your blog through the dark days challenge. I just wanted to say that we have something similar in Philly called phillycar share and it is the BEST THING EVER!

Can't wait to check out your recipes and winter food ideas.


Anonymous said...

I'm a huge fan of the zipcar/flexcar idea - especially for the occasional need for an alternate vehicle. Good luck - I'll be curious how the experiment turns out!

Anonymous said...

I'd jump on Flexcar in a second if they had any heavy-duty trucks. There's a little pickup on Mississippi street but it's anemic and no towing hitch. I really think they'd get good value from a big truck in north/northeast Portland like your BioBeast (or our affectionately named "Tinkerbell", an F250 diesel like yours).

Katherine Gray said...

Nat, that's an excellent idea. In fact, I wouldn't feel like we needed this crazy truck if we had that option (whether I could talk Aaron into selling it is another issue).

Another request I'm going to make to FlexCar is a notification reminder that you have a reservation. I forgot that I'd been so organized and reserved a car in advance for a meeting and drove the truck instead. Doh!

Anonymous said...

Yeah notification is a no-duh. Tell them to send you emails and/or txt msgs on your cell phone.