So where do you buy your toilet paper?

The subheading of this post should be: “And other questions I am frequently asked.”

My family and I are car-free. On purpose. We spend a lot of time answering questions about this lifestyle choice of ours. But the number one question we get asked is “But, where do you buy your toilet paper????” Why? Let me back up a bit and explain a few things.

First of all, when we decided to go car-free, the first and foremost reason was NOT to improve our health. However, it’s been the number one benefit that has come out of it. So I do think that it’s relevant to this blog. I’m not suggesting that it’s the only way to improve one’s health. But I can tell you that forcing yourself to find ways to work movement into your day-to-day routine absolutely has the potential to improve your health, whether you want it to or not. But I digress….

When we made this decision, it was due to a number of factors. One was our interest in reducing our list of expenses. Cars are expensive. Ownership, maintenance, insurance, and gas all take a toll on one’s budget. Especially if your family’s long-term plan is to whittle down to part-time or on-the-side work so that you can all enjoy each other more. Beyond the savings, our next thought was the environment. We can’t all save the world overnight, but not contributing to pollution could be a small way that our family could contribute. And that was about it, in terms of our short list of reasons for going car-free initially. We briefly considered that we might have less stress if we were not constantly fighting road-ragers, or sitting in traffic, or unable to have a conversation with someone else in the car lest we miss our exit. But we never imagined that it would also lead us to support the local businesses in our area. Or that by supporting the local businesses in our area, we’d stop enjoying the experience of big-box shopping. And here is how we get to this magical question.

When people ask how we do shopping without a car, and how we get to the big-box stores that are typically located in the suburbs and not in downtowns or more urban areas, we respond that we simply avoid those places as much as possible. We shop at the local market (which also allows us to buy food in-season to eat), and at other small local stores for goods. And it is at this point that people always become concerned for our bathroom essentials inventory. My response to this question is that there are plenty of small shops around, like convenience stores, or even drug stores (which may or may not be chains, but I never said we swore them off – – just that we avoid them when we can!). So the answer is pretty anticlimactic given the seriousness of the questioners at the time.

There are a ton of other benefits that have come out of being car-free. For instance, a closer relationship with family members as we can actually talk while walking somewhere. But those can be subjects of another post. For now, let me just leave you with this question – – what lifestyle change have you been considering that might improve your health? Do you have that internal voice telling you that you just “can’t do it”? Or is there someone else’s voice telling you that? Society? I can promise you that we heard from many others who told us that we “could not” live without a car. And here I am, almost 2 years into it, telling you that those voices were wrong. Yours might be too. So take a deep breath, and leap. You might be glad you did.


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