Do we really need a car?

Lucy Guy is a Strategy & Planning Manager. Here she shares where her interest in the environment began and what made her ditch her car for good.

Lucy Guy is a Strategy and Planning Manager in our UK Marketing team. She's also one of our sustainability superstars and works hard to have a positive impact on the planet - both inside and outside the office.

The Aviva.com editorial team sat down with Lucy to ask where her interest in the environment began and what prompted her decision to say goodbye to her car for good.

Nice to meet you, Lucy. Tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi! I’m Lucy Guy and I’m part of the UK Marketing team, working as a Strategy Lead. I live in Norwich, but I grew up in Cornwall – that’s where I call home.

We lived right by the sea. Literally, on the edge of a cliff, overlooking a small fishing harbour. It was beautiful.

Lucy in conversation with the Aviva.com editorial team
Lucy in conversation with the Aviva.com editorial team

It sounds idyllic. Did growing up in Cornwall inspire you to protect the environment from an early age?

I grew up surrounded by nature. Playing outside, going swimming in the sea, walking with my dad. We’d also go fishing together. It was definitely where my interest in the environment began.

I was also very aware of what was going on in the world around me and the conversation about climate change from a young age. The world of politics was always a hot topic at home.

When I went to secondary school, I remember learning more and that’s when I started to take small steps myself. Turning off computer monitors, lights and plugs that didn't need to be on. Making choices, with the environment in mind.

In recent years I’ve sadly seen the effects of climate change first-hand in Cornwall – greater coastal erosion and extreme weather.

So how did you come to live in Norwich?

My parents moved to Norfolk about seven years ago to care for my grandma, moving their business and life across the country. And when I finished Uni, I joined them.

Moving to a completely new place was daunting. I didn't know anyone. Then I joined Aviva in 2016 as a Motor Claims Handler - made new friends and met my boyfriend.

And where did your career at Aviva take you next?

After about a year and a half, I was ready for a new challenge. A temporary opportunity came up in the corporate responsibility team, working on the Aviva Community Fund.

I started part time while doing my master’s degree in international relations – where I chose to learn more about climate change and other issues that are too often brushed under the carpet, like refugee crises and structural inequality.

My job turned into a permanent role, and I moved to manage charity partnerships, working with the British Red Cross (who I ran the London Marathon for).

"We kept asking ourselves, ‘do we really need a car?’ It spent so much time parked – not going anywhere."

After three years, I wanted to take what I had learned in sustainability and make a difference in a new way. That’s when I took on responsibility for Aviva’s electric vehicle strategy.

Now I’m part of the marketing team and I’m having some great conversations about how we can embed sustainability into our area of the business and bring that benefit to our customers.

Outside work, what changes have you made to your lifestyle to live more sustainably?

In Norwich city centre, where I live, they've implemented a car-free day once a year to encourage people not to drive their cars into the city. After buying our first home here in 2020, it got me and my boyfriend thinking and in part that’s what prompted the decision to sell my car.

Tell us more about that?

We kept asking ourselves, ‘do we really need a car?’

It spent so much time parked – not going anywhere. I’d read that the most polluting journeys are the short trips, especially when you’re sat in idling in traffic.

If we wanted to visit London for the weekend, we’d get the train. Or if we were going to see our families who live a little further away, we’d take public transport.

It just didn’t make sense when we had more or less everything we needed, right on our doorstep.

Petrol, parking permits – owning a car can be quite expensive.

Exactly! We were spending a lot of money on a car that was parked 99% of the time. So, we put the car up for sale, and literally within 10 minutes, someone got in touch who wanted to buy it. 

Three days later it was sold. And we've not really looked back.

So, has it all been plain sailing, being car free?

There have been a couple of moments when I’ve thought ‘oh, I'd really like to be able to hop in the car right now’, like when I’m running late and the last thing I want to do is wait for a bus in the pouring rain.

"It's a positive change. Not just for the environment, but it’s also benefitted my health and wellbeing too."

But honestly, I don't regret getting rid of the car. I’m not planning on getting another car anytime soon, but if the time comes, I’d look into getting one through Aviva’s electric vehicle scheme for colleagues.

I enjoy walking and cycling too. You have to be a bit more organised when taking different routes and planning helps but I've got a lot more stories to tell (detours included) than I would from just jumping in the car.

It's a positive change. Not just for the environment, but it’s also benefitted my health and wellbeing too. I find my walk to work gives me time to prepare for the day ahead or wind down at the end of it.

Have you made any other changes? And have your choices inspired anyone else?

I’m mindful about my food choices and eat meat free a couple of days a week. I've made my dad (an avid burger fan) consider his choices too. He’s now hooked on vegan burgers.

We've got a bug hotel in our garden and have planted lots of flowers to attract bees. And we’re hoping to put in a little pond to support local wildlife.

I’ve been part of a mentoring program working with refugees in Norfolk and have organised volunteering days for my team with Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

I support Pennies for Good. That means my salary, after deductions, is rounded down to the nearest whole pound. The pennies taken are then donated to a charity – voted for by Aviva’s people.

And through Payroll Giving I make a regular monthly donation, from my salary, before tax, to a charity of my choice.

I also pay to off-set my carbon footprint.

Lucy standing in Aviva's office in the centre of Norwich
Lucy standing in Aviva's office in the centre of Norwich

What would your advice be to someone looking to become a sustainability superstar like you?

I would say go for it! None of us are perfect and you don't have to make lots of radical changes all at once. Sometimes things don’t go to plan either and that’s ok.

The most important thing? You’ve got the right intentions and are making the effort. Start with one small thing that’s important to you and achievable. If it works, try another.

No change is too small. Make any change you can make to protect our planet – together they can add up to make a big difference.

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