car share

Key Free

Key RingYesterday while I was having a working date with one of my best friends at our beloved Townshend's Tea House, we got to talking about keys. This isn't necessarily an unusual topic of conversation for the two us because we used to be housemates and we have stories to tell of times that one of us (I won't say who) locked herself out and the other of us (I won't say who) rescued her! We were discussing losing things and she was showing me her pod. We each have one and I Still Don't Leave Home Without It! But what was interesting this time around was that when I showed her my new pod, she said "where are your keys?!" and I got to tell her that I'm now Key Free.

Yup. That's right. I don't have any keys anymore!

(Well, okay, that's not entirely true, since I do still have a key to my post box. Buuuut... it's a small space and they know me - and they're meticulous about checking my ID anyhow - so they give me my mail even if I don't have my key with me.)

Wallet Phone Case

I used to keep my keys on the zipper pull of my pod. But now I've upgraded. Now I just have a phone case with slots for my work and personal debit cards, my drivers license, my insurance cards, and a $20 bill. Easy peasy. My new case even protects the screen of my phone (which is great because I'm a klutz and I drop that poor thing on a daily basis!)

So how in the world did I become key free?

The biggest trick is that it's all about Access Rather Than Ownership. I can still access the stuff I need but I don't have to carry around keys to get to it.

Lucky Penny's combo lock - photo credit: Tiny House Giant Journey

I used to have two house keys for my garden cottage (this was part of the reason we locked ourselves out regularly!) but more recently while I've been living in tiny houses I've only had one key. When I built my tiny house, The Lucky Penny, I purposely put in a combination lock so that I could avoid having a house key anymore. (I do, of course, have a back up key, in case the batteries conk out in the combo lock - and the great thing about having a metal trailer as the foundation of my house is that there are soooo many places to tuck a magnetic hide-a-key - a trick I learned from a fellow tiny houser! No fake rocks for us, thank you very much!) Oh, and we have combination locks on The Big House, too. So, no house key.

I used to have a bike lock key, but when I was Bettering Things one day I got my combination U-lock all set up so I'd never have to carry a bike lock key again. So, no bike key.

I don't own a car. So, no car key. (I rent cars regularly through Car2Go, Enterprise, Getaround, and Zipcar, so when I'm using them I have nice big clunky car keys to contend with, but this usually only happens once or twice a month. By the way, what is up with having TWO big fat car keys attached to each other and big clunky plastic key rings, anyhow? Really. How does that make any sense at all?!)

I am self-employed these days so even though I don't always work from home, I no longer have any keys to gate locks or construction trailers or offices. So, no work keys.

I can't even remember now what else I used to have keys to, but at this point I'm glad that it's one less thing to think about. This is one of my favorite aspects of minimalism. Not just less stuff but less stuff to think about (and lose!)

Do you have keys? What are your keys to? Do you use them on a daily basis? Could you get by without your keys? Would you want to?

Smart Car + Smart Phone = Smart Errands

The hose I borrowed temporarily had such a rubbery taste that Raffi wouldn't drink the water. Getting a drinking quality hose was a priority today, so I decided to try out Portland's newest public-private transportation option. Car2Go is a car rental program utilizing a collection of blue and white Smart cars that are perpetually scattered across the city by one-way trips. Here's how it worked for me:

  • I became a member a couple weeks ago during the trial period while the memberships were free. Yay!  I downloaded the app for my android phone.
  • I woke up this morning and decided to see where the closest car was. (I hadn't even gotten out of bed at this point. Thank you smart phone!)
  • I made breakfast, tended to my chicken, put on my shoes, grabbed my bag and my shopping list, and walked the eight blocks to the closest Car2Go.
  • I held my membership card over the little panel on the windshield and the car unlocked.
  • I hopped in, answered a few questions about the vehicle's condition, set my destination on the GPS, and headed out.
  • When I got there, I selected the "Stopover" option so that I could extend my reservation while I was in the store and the car would still be there when I returned.
  • When I was done I parked the car, answered a few more questions, held my membership card over the panel at the windshield, and went about my day.

My downfall was this: I didn't make sure the store had everything I needed before setting out. Since Car2Go charges by the minute, my first trip ended up being a total waste of time and money. I've decided that Car2Go is a great option for spur of the moment trips since you don't have to make a reservation like you do with ZipCar and Getaround. You also don't have to return the car to the place you found it, which can save lots of time and hassle. But it's worthwhile to use your smart phone prior to hopping into that smart car to make sure that your errand isn't a wild goose chase.

I was after a drinking quality hose and a hose splitter for my water supply and coconut coir for my compost toilet. I'd already been to a couple little garden shops in search of coconut coir blocks and they didn't have them. I'd purchased coconut coir at a big yucky corporate hardware store in the past so I decided to go ahead and go there since they'd have everything I needed. They didn't. I shouldn't have been surprised since I don't think I've ever left that place satisfied! Nevertheless, I had another good reason to support my local hardware store, which I knew carried the recycled rubber drinking quality hoses. Unfortunately, they didn't open for another hour and I didn't want to pay for the car that whole time. So I parked it on my street and finished my reservation. (Couldn't resist pulling the car into my driveway first though for a photo.) Fortunately, no one else got the bright idea to use that particular car so the car was waiting for me an hour later. I was able to get the hose and splitter from my local hardware store and be home again in no time.

I imagine I'll still use my bike for most of my trips, even errands that involve some hauling. But it's nice to know that Car2Go is a convenient option for opportunistic auto-ing.