DEMAND AN END TO POVERTY THIS GENERAL ELECTION
TAKE ACTION
Activism

Green Revolutions: A social business driving change

If carpooling isn't for you, there’s always the sharing option. Social businesses like Green Revolutions are saving drivers cash and the planet

Green Revolutions

As the crusher hovers over petrol and diesel cars, everyone is wondering what our towns, cities and motorways will look like by 2040 when the government ban comes into force. Cars will likely be driverless and electric, but will personal ownership continue or could innovative planning lead to more inclusive and integrated communities with cars as a use-as-you-go public service?

Jeremy Clarkson may be sobbing into his steering wheel, but it turns out a growing number of millennials are already thinking this way and are just not that interested in saving for a vehicle.

The shift toward a sharing economy is happening at a time of growing concern about climate change and carbon emissions

The shift toward a sharing economy is also happening at a time of growing concern about climate change and unsustainable carbon emissions. As the planet-warming, health-damaging impacts of car exhaust pollutants become clearer, some believe there must be more efficient ways to use automobiles.

Electric cars promise to be one part of the solution, cutting out exhaust emissions altogether. Carpooling – recently given a hip injection by James Corden’s hit Carpool Karaoke – is another. And car clubs offer the same promise. If more people were able to reliably hire a car from a shared fleet only when they needed it, fewer people would need to own a vehicle at all.

Green Revolutions

Green Revolutions is a social business at the forefront of these changes in Birmingham. It runs the local franchise for the Co-wheels network of car clubs across the UK and also campaigns on sustainability issues. Set up in 2013, Green Revolutions now has more than 100 members signed up to sharing a fleet of 12 low-emission cars.

The members use a smart card to access an available car at one of the eight sites in the city on a pay-as-you-go basis, with money deducted digitally from their account (it’s £4.50 an hour). Green Revolutions director Sandra Green says it has made car use affordable to families on low incomes – some of whom don’t necessarily have great public transport options.

Green Revolutions

“The car club encourages people to think more clearly about the most efficient way of getting around,” explains Green. “We set it up to give people a better set of options, to help people who want to drive less but get out more.

“Our members now use the car club alongside their use of public transport, rather than ignoring public transport altogether. People drive fewer miles overall with car clubs, because they don’t feel they’ve sunk all their money into a car – they don’t feel they must get the maximum amount of use out of it.”

Environment

So what makes people sign up to become members? “Some have environmental concerns,” says Green. “Some want to try to save money. And for others it just takes the hassle of ownership out of driving. We like to say, ‘We own the car so you don’t have to.’”

Green Revolutions – a community interest company (CIC) that puts any money it makes back into expanding the project – has shifted its fleet of cars toward a mix of hybrid and low-emission vehicles. It currently has one electric car available for members to hire, and it’s proving to be the most popular vehicle.

Car clubs like ours have been at the forefront of persuading people of the merits of electric cars

“Car clubs like ours have been at the forefront of persuading people of the merits of electric cars,” says Green. “There’s now so much excitement about
electric that people are signing up with us just to use the electric car and see how it works.”

Big Issue Invest, the social investment arm of The Big Issue Group, has helped finance an expansion in Green Revolutions’ work, with Co-wheels also benefitting from support from Big Issue Invest. And Green Revolutions is now planning to increase the number of cars available to over 25, aiming to expand the club to more than 300 individuals in the next two years.

“We are delighted to support Green Revolutions,” says head of lending Daniel Wilson-Dodd. “They are one of the greenest and cheapest car hire companies in Birmingham and are making such a positive difference for people who can’t afford to own a car, while also helping reduce carbon emissions.”

“It’s wonderful that their profits are invested in their vision of clean air and safer streets.”

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
'We are here and we exist': Inside the neighbourhood offering sanctuary to queer Russians and Ukrainians
Pride

'We are here and we exist': Inside the neighbourhood offering sanctuary to queer Russians and Ukrainians

Actor Liz Carr says it hurts to hear her younger self 'wanted to die'
Liz Carr
Disability rights

Actor Liz Carr says it hurts to hear her younger self 'wanted to die'

Feeling like change in the UK isn't possible? Let these 28 purposeful campaigns prove otherwise
Activism

Feeling like change in the UK isn't possible? Let these 28 purposeful campaigns prove otherwise

Back to Black actor Eddie Marsan: 'There aren't any no-go areas in Tower Hamlets'
London

Back to Black actor Eddie Marsan: 'There aren't any no-go areas in Tower Hamlets'

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know