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How I Survived Breaking Up With My Car

The authors tells the story of how she gave up driving, despite her love for cars, and examines the challenges facing drivers who don't live in cities.

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Right now, the infrastructure isn’t there for bigger changes—and while some of us will try to do our part to produce less exhaust and waste, “some” only adds up to so much. Environmental groups in Kentucky are aware of Kentuckians’ reliance on their cars, and are aiming at practical solutions: the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District campaigns against vehicle idling, while the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development has provided loans and expertise to cut energy use in grocery stores throughout Appalachia. Working with groceries to cut one of their biggest expenses has kept a few from shutting their doors for good, while others have even hired more workers. In an area where people often have to drive 45 minutes to buy food—and where many can’t afford that drive—this is not only an environmentally conscious but also a humane endeavor.

And the culture isn’t quite there, either. For all my independence from cars these days, and for all that I know about what vehicle exhaust does to the planet, I still love the vehicle.

How do you ask people to shed this emblem of independence — perhaps the greatest source of independence most Americans experience day in and day out? Without an incredibly far-reaching infrastructure overhaul, the short answer is that you don’t. The more complicated answer is that first, you have to ask us to want change, and that takes meeting us somewhere between Franklin and Louisville.

Erin L. McCoy wrote this article for  YES! Magazine , a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. Erin worked as a newspaper reporter and photographer in Kentucky for almost two years. She is now a Seattle-based freelance writer specializing in education, environment, cultural issues, and travel, informed by her time teaching English in Malaysia and other travels. Contact her at elmccoy [at] gmail [dot] com or on Twitter @ErinLMcCoy.

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