F**k Tim Noakes – I am going on a Low Car Diet

Wednesday Wisdom: I just cannot help myself – when I like an idea, I REALLY like it. And the ideas around collaborative consumption/ the sharing economy have completely captivated me. So much so that I will attempt to give up my car for 30 days – *dum dum dum* 

It has been almost 4 months since I first got a taste of the sharing economy as an Airbnb host. I wrote about that experience  here. This experience has really made me question how I consume things and what role I can play in changing things up in my community.

Airbnb is part of a bigger global movement referred to as collaborative consumption (also known as the sharing economy) – a socio-economic system that is slowly seeping into various aspects of our daily lives (not least of which has been a growth in car-sharing).

What is collaborative consumption?

Rachel Botsman has been a champion for collaborative consumption – so who better to explain the basics:

In a nutshell, collaborative consumption refers to:

  • a new and exciting economic model
  • of renting, lending, swapping, bartering, gifting and sharing
  • products and services
  • on a scale never before possible
  • facilitated by changes in technology

Broadly speaking, collaborative consumption can be divided into three systems:


  • Product-service systems: Paying for the benefit/ use of a product without having to own it.
  • Redistribution markets: Adding the fifth “R” – reduce, reuse, recycle, recover and now redistribute. Using technology to match unwanted goods with people who want them.
  • Collaborative lifestyles: The sharing of resources such as money, skills and time between people with similar interests/ needs.

Resources to find out more

To find out more about collaborative consumption/ the sharing economy check out the following:

What is a low car diet?


In 2009, Zipcar and GoGet ran a “Low Car Diet” campaign where they asked 250 self-confessed car-addicts from 13 cities to give up their cars for one month – only using their car-sharing memberships when absolutely necessary. Besides the 188 kilograms the participants lost (due to increased exercise), 100 out of the 250 did not want their car keys back.

A low car diet thus entails giving up your car and finding alternative ways of getting around. So it does not mean you cannot make use of cars (or other forms of transport) but that you simply limit these.

Check out this cool interactive infographic showing the history of car-sharing: http://futureofcarsharing.com/

Why am I going on a low car diet?


As you might have gathered, this post really has nothing to do with Tim Noakes, low carb diets or losing weight in general. Sure walking instead of driving might be good for my health but that is not why I am doing this.

Costs of Owning VS Costs of Using a Car

I replaced my trusty (and paid-off) 10-year old VW Citi Golf two years ago with a pretty, new VW Polo (I know – how original). So as at the time of publishing I spend the following on my car every month:

Total Cost of Owning:

R3,676 per month or R44,112 per annum

What I am interested in finding out is how this cost compares to the cost of using a car only when I need it. And how this stacks up against the inconvenience of not having a car.

Idle Assets

Since I work from home and live in Sea Point (very central), Cape Town (very compact), I do not really use my car that much (my best estimate would be between 30 minutes to 1 hour per day.

That means for 23 hours of the day my car (an asset) is idle. Not a great investment if you ask me.

The Challenge

  • Start date: Friday, 16 May 2014
  • Duration: 30 days
  • The rules:
    • Give up my car keys
    • Walk/ run/ bike to gym
    • Bus it whenever possible
    • Get creative and get out

Join me?

Follow my progress on my blog where I will be posting a weekly update along with additional resources. (If you haven’t already, sign up to my mailing list to receive weekly updates via email).

You can also follow my misadventures on social media (#lowcardiet):

twitter-64x64 facebook-64x64 linkedin-64x64 instagram-64x64

And why not join me and share your experiences? I am not suggesting that a low car diet is for everyone. But I think we can all reconsider the way we use our cars – if not for the environmental impact it has, then for the money we could be saving.