While it is widely known that the use of cars can have negative impact on the environment, they can open up many opportunities and access for people. In these photo stories, Maya and Alan respond to the guilt over owning or using cars as an issue facing younger people and their connection to the environment.

Driving Climate Anxiety

by Maya Sankaran

Many young people may require cars to get to their place of education or employment. This is especially true for young people in more rural areas where public transport provisions may be inadequate in providing affordable, safe and convenient travel. It also applies for young people with disabilities who may not be able to use public transport due to a lack of accessibility. Furthermore, during the COVID-19 pandemic young people have become much more reliant on using private cars to get around as the use of public transport is not recommended and may make people feel anxious. This use of cars can make people feel anxious as it is not the most climate conscious mode of transport there is when actually it might not be their fault and there are other ways they can offset their emissions from car use if they want to.

I used more of a negative angle to show my issue as I thought the photos should highlight the negative feelings people have when they experience guilt over owning or using a car. However, I also included some more positive aspects including highlighting other alternatives to car use.

I [used] angles to make the car look bigger and therefore more intimidating and showing it covering the plants behind to show the anxiety about owning the car was to do with how car use might affect nature or the environment.

This picture [shows] why the young person might be forced to use a car if there are no bus stops or rail stations nearby or if the roads are not safe enough to ride a bike on. Lots of other people own cars and it is seen as an achievement to own one so young people may want a car for this reason but then feel anxious about it.

I have shown someone using their car for shopping. It shows how cars can be much for convenient for people especially if they are busy with work or school and don’t have a lot of time to use other modes of transport which might be more tiring or time consuming.

Young people may feel more guilty in using a car as it might contribute more to climate change and have more of a negative environmental impact. I used the shadow in the foreground coving the nature to show the guilt a person might feel.

In this photo I [showed] the alternatives to car use like using a bike or other modes of transport or maybe ways in which you can offset your emissions form car use like using bikes for shorter journeys.

Is your carbon footprint driving you crazy? No need to worry!

by Alan Yap

One of the main emitters of greenhouse gases comes from cars. It’s a reason why London has relatively high air pollution, and why we have fines such as congestion charges. Although walking/cycling is ideal, it is not practical for all people. Depending on personal circumstances, driving a vehicle may be necessary.

I took a picture of a car and then took pictures of ways people can potentially offset their negative environmental impacts. This can be an effective way of dealing with guilt.

The picture of shoe rack (and my feet) is meant to show walking as a healthy and possible means of transport. The picture of my bike in the garage shows transport that can be used for longer distances. The picture of the garden plants shows a fun activity most people can do from the comfort of their own homes. Not only can you create your own nature, you can also create habitats for species. The gloves are the ones I use every fortnight when I go volunteering

I’ve taken a more positive approach. I find that guilt-tripping those who own a car to drive less isn’t effective, since most car journeys are more or less justified. A positive approach can inspire new habits and change that a negative approach cannot do.

This piece was created by young people during our online delivery of the Wild Action Programme with the London Wildlife Trust. The Wild Action Programme is one strand of the Keeping It Wild Project This project is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund 

Banner image taken by Alan during this Wild Action Programme