Disposable Cars and Other Atrocities
So I was innocently enough watching the news last week when a review of hybrid vehicles came on. Technically, it was one of those morning news shows that are more about entertainment and factoids (like talking to the latest Hollywood starlet about their new tell-all book that really doesn’t tell anything) than real hard-hitting journalism (like having deep, philosophical, ideological debates with opposing sides about nuclear proliferation or sustainability issues or if a flag pin does or does not make you patriotic) But to be honest, I don’t think I could handle the latter before a pot and a half of coffee.
I digress. The point about the news/non-news story was that when deciding to purchase a new vehicle, you should compare hybrid vehicles to high mileage compacts because you would have to own the hybrid for a ridiculously long time to economically break even. How long is this tipping point you may ask? Less than 5 years. It is a sad day in over-consumption when people don’t even treat the purchase of a car as a long term purchase. Only 1% of every natural resource we grow, mine, or drill for is still in use 6 months after we purchase it. This disposal-is-cool society that reminds us to use & toss such items as water bottles made from petroleum, dust rags and single use toilet bowl cleaners made from petroleum and cotton, and individually shrink-wrapped potatoes is running down our planet. Even automobiles are starting to edge closer to the disposable category. If everyone in the world consumed and disposed the way American’s do, we would need 3 to 5 earths to supply our needs.
The car you purchase, even if there is not an immediate economic benefit, has long term economic and environmental effects that are positive. Even if you are not driving the car you purchase after 5 years, some one else will. Pay the environmental and economic savings forward and purchase a car that pollutes less and uses less gas. Also, consider buying pre-owned. This saves oodles of resources from making a new car (withstanding, of course, that the car is still fuel-efficient). When we buy things, durability should be a concern. Environmentalists constantly preach the praises of purchasing a reusable mug for coffee and water, because it reduces waste. However, it is equally important to consider purchasing durable cars, electronics, and clothing.
For tips to increase gas mileage on any car, watch this YouTube video.
And visit this governmental website.
EPA Greenversations is the Environmental Protection Agency’s Blog that has a discussion about what would it take for many American’s to change their driving habits.