Every week we bring you a simple idea for reducing your carbon footprint and protecting the planet. This week: why joining a car share club is good news for your wallet and the planet.

Owning a car is expensive. According to Kwik Fit, the average driver spends £162 a month on basics such as fuel, car insurance and servicing. That figure climbs to £388 for motorists that lease their vehicles. Add to that the devastating environmental impact that cars have – they account for around a fifth of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions – and you’d be forgiven for wondering why we bother with them at all.

But we do, because for many, they’re necessary. For those in areas where public transport is lacking, or without means to purchase a climate-friendlier electric vehicle, a petrol or diesel car may be their only option. But is ownership still necessary? Not any more. In an age where the sharing community is becoming increasingly popular, and the old mantra of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ is gaining prominence, it’s no longer necessary to own a car in order to drive one. Instead, there exist a growing number of car share clubs that let you dip into driving only when you need to. Here’s everything you need to know.

What are car share clubs?

As a member of a car share club, you’re able to access a personal vehicle close to your location, and only pay for the way you use it – that might be per trip, per hour or per day. There are a number of different models, such as back to base, where you return the vehicle to the location you picked it up from, one-way car sharing, where you can drop the vehicle off in any pre-determined car-share zone, and even peer-to-peer sharing, where people with underused vehicles can rent them out to neighbours and other people in their local area.

How do car share clubs work?

It’s simply a case of book, drive and return. Every club will have a slightly different way of doing things, but in most cases, you just book a nearby car online or by phone (anything from weeks in advance to mere minutes), choose how long you need the car for and once you’ve been given the vehicle’s location, unlock it using your club smartcard. The keys will be inside and the vehicle will be ready to go.

How does payment work?

Every club will have its own pricing structure – some charge hourly rates from as little as £3.50 – and payment will be taken directly from your account. There are no forms to fill in or invoices to deal with, and things like insurance, tax and fuel are included in the price.

Is there a car share club near me?

It’s very likely, yes. According to Como UK, a group that promotes shared transport, there are around 5,500 shared vehicles on the UK’s roads – and that number has grown steadily from 3,200 in 2015. Car sharing clubs are becoming more popular, too. In 2015 they had around 190,000 members in the UK – now there are more than 353,000. Como’s car club map will help you find a club near you.

What are the benefits of joining a car share club?

It might be hard to imagine life without a car in your driveway, but joining a car share club comes with a raft of plus points, for both you and your community. According to Como:

  • Members that drive less than 8,000 miles a year could save a whopping £3,500 annually.
  • Car club vehicles are newer and therefore more efficient, and emit more than 33% fewer CO2 emissions per kilometre than the average British car.
  • Car clubs ease congestion on roads. A single round-trip car club car replaces 10.5 vehicles removed from the roads in the last 12 months.
  • Car clubs in the UK are responsible for taking more than 31,000 privately-owned cars off the roads – that’s enough to cover 62 football pitches.
  • Car clubs have reduced the demand for parking, which means fewer natural spaces destroyed to make room for stationary vehicles.

There are also a growing number of electric car clubs springing up around the UK and beyond – opting for an EV will ramp up these benefits even more. E-Car Club is just one example – check out their ever expanding list of locations here.

So if you’re reading this as your underused vehicle sits outside, or you’re making a mental note to pay yet another car-related bill, consider making the switch to a car sharing club. Whether you’ll use it for the school run, a weekend away or simply doing the weekly shop, membership could significantly reduce your outgoings – and your carbon footprint.

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