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How this family lives car-free with a toddler

Living sustainably has always been important to Tim Sculthorpe and Mariana de la Rosa. When the couple moved to Sydney from Tasmania, they had no car and no intention of buying one. That’s when they discovered Car Next Door.

Jessica Pilon-Summons

“Our family are eco-warriors,” says Tim. I am a proud palawa man (Tasmanian Aboriginal) and for me, caring for the land is the number one thing I do.  Mariana studied Industrial Design at university with a focus on sustainability. Since having our son, we try to make choices that help give him a better world to live in. The choice not to have a car is part of that.”

Living car-free is not the only choice the young family has made to live sustainably.

“We try to buy or trade everything second hand, we compost, we have a worm farm, recycle, we bike, we use public transport and we choose local food when we can,” said Mariana.

Their sustainable practices helped when the family found themselves stranded at Christmas.

“We were meant to go back to Tasmania for Christmas but we got stuck because of COVID-19,” said Tim.

“We had nothing prepared for Christmas, no tree, decorations or presents, nothing.”

“We shared our situation on the Rough Trade page, that's a group of people who trade for things rather than money, and lots of people messaged with offers to come to pick up trees, decorations and gifts.

“We then hopped in a Car Next Door to pick it all up and within two days we had a fully free and recycled Christmas.”

On a mission to save Christmas
“You could say Car Next Door saved Christmas for us.”

Car-share with a toddler

When other parents find out the couple has chosen to remain car-free with a toddler, they are shocked.

“I have many friends who say “Oh, that’s crazy - if you have a baby, you need a car”, said Mariana. “But we didn’t find that to be a problem at all. We always think ahead and organise.”

“We’ve found having access to Car Next Door to be very helpful with a baby. Once, our baby was sick. We were new to the city and didn’t know anyone who could drive us. Luckily, we were able to borrow a Car Next Door to take him to the hospital. Having a car close by that we could easily book on short notice really helped us that night.”

The couple shared four tips for those wanting to car-share with a toddler

1. Be prepared - Mariana recommends keeping a bag of essentials such as toys, a nappy bag and a car shade packed and ready.

2. Buy a car seat - although some cars on Car Next Door have a car seat available, the couple has found that having your own car seats means you can borrow a greater variety of cars and often find cars closer to home.

3. Have a sense of adventure - the family approach each trip in a Car Next Door as an adventure, and find joy in being able to drive a variety of cars. When they were looking for their current home in Randwick and having to attend up to 10 listings a weekend, being able to borrow a variety of cars added some excitement to the weekends. “It felt like we were secret agents going on an adventure. It kept it entertaining for us,” Mariana said.

4. Book early - Tim recommends that you book early if you want to choose from a variety of cars or book your favourite car closest to home.

When asked what advice they would give to anyone considering using car-share instead of owning a car, Mariana said, “Just give it a go.”

“It’s funny because when someone asks if you have a car, and you say no, they expect you to struggle. But it’s nice to be able to say we have Car Next Door. It's convenient and easy to use. We are helping the owner of the car to make money which is good for them and it’s good for us as well. It’s just a win-win."

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