With four children, making us a family of six, I used to be one of the many mums who saw a large 4WD as the only choice for a 7- or even 8-seater family car.
So I've owned some real gas guzzlers in my time. But not any more. I'm a changed woman driver, and now find myself working with a great team at NRMA Motoring & Services - including their president Wendy Machin - on the DRIVE element of 1 Million Women's SAVE program.
Let me tell you how I've changed, and first of all why. Cars can be one of the most expensive items in our lives, easily costing $200+ a week to own and run, and also one of the most polluting - about 4 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year for a medium-sized vehicle.
I do need a car and I'm currently driving a diesel Citroen C4 Picasso, which I selected as the most fuel-efficient 7-seater I could find on the market in Australia. I found that out before going near any car dealer showrooms by consulting the Australian Government's Green Vehicle Guide website. I can recommend it!
I went from a vehicle that could easily consume 15 litres-plus of petrol for every 100km travelled, to one that could use as little as 5 litres of diesel for the same distance. Sure there's less power, but the $ savings on fuel are genuine, and we can still fit the whole family in and an extra as well (mainly Nana).
Giant urban assault vehicles (aka 4WDs) aside, my other big blind spot with getting around was public transport. I just didn't get buses and trains, but I've changed now as well.
I drive when I have to, but if the bus into the city is the better option - and it very often is by the time you take into account traffic jams, tolls, high parking fees and rising fuel costs - then I take it. I also avoid travelling when I can, telecommuting for work rather than being on the road.
The other thing we do as a family is car sharing, which makes sense financially and environmentally. Everyone tries to use public transport as the main option and a car when a particular journey demands one - and there's a family bicycle too.
So my final call to action for you (if you have not already done so) is to join the 1 Million Women Campaign , because you will learn through our SAVE program how save money and cut pollution through changing your driving habits.
The 1 Million Women team is looking forward to hearing your SAVE stories about transport choices and experiences as we roll out DRIVE. There's always lots we can learn from one another.
Thanks a million. Nat