Really green or just paying lip service? // 09.16.2008 at 3:52 PM
by Alan Baker
So how do you know how green you really are? It's not like there is a good gauge or meter out there. I don't have an answer for you per se, it's more of an analogy.
First, I own a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee. It gets 13mpg. A friend of mine owns a 2004 Honda Civic, which gets about 30mpg. My friend considers herself to be very green because she has a reasonably fuel efficient car, has joined Greenpeace, and recycles. She frequently gives me a rough time for how much fuel my car wastes or how much worse the emissions are than her Civic. So naturally, her opinion is that I sell it. Is she right? You're probably thinking to yourself, yes.
Here's the catch: she drives 28,000 miles per year while I drive only 400 miles per year. My friend, like many Americans, was desperate to own a home and had to move to BFE to own it. Meanwhile, I made sure to live closer to work so I can walk. But am doing it for the planet, or to save money.
Personally, I don't see how my motivation is relevant, all that matters is the end result. I use roughly 30 gallons of fuel per year, while she uses about 930 gallons. She'll get 8 or 9 oil changes per year, her frequent maintenance costs uses loads of oil-based lubricants, and maintenance of an individual traversing 28,000 miles of public roadways. I don't even get an oil change every year.
My carbon footprint with this vehicle is so low. If I were to sell it and get a new car (we'll ignore how fiscally stupid that would be), the new owner of my Jeep would definitely drive it more often than I, which would increase the need for public roadway maintenance, increased resources to personal vehicle maintenance, as well as increased fuel consumption and emissions. I'd add even more to the waste because purchasing a new vehicle would increase energy usage, material resources, and factory emissions to manufacture the new vehicle. How much sense does that make?
Beth Kuchar on 09.17.2008 at 12:54 PM
I agree completely - we really have to look at the big picture!
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