Sunday, August 7, 2011

Are you doing your part, keeping up with the Jones'

Are you green?  You know the green I am talking about, the green with envy you get when you see your neighbor drive up in their new Prius?  Oh how you wish you could be green right?  Well stop right now because there are a few ways to have a big impact on going green and buying a new car is not one of them.

Manufacturing a new car produces at least 6 tons of carbon.  In fact the smallest base Citroen produces 6 tons, a Prius 10 tons a Ford Taurus 17 tons, and a Land Rover Discover 35 tons.  Burning a gallon of gas produces 19 pounds of carbon.  The Prius has been shown to save about 200 gallons a year of Camry and Corolla drivers.  So simple math will tell you driving a Prius saves 200 * 19 = 3800 lbs of carbon production which will take 10tons / 3800 = 5 years to offset just the manufacturing.  Take into account the unknown of the battery disposal and the opportunity cost of purchasing the new Prius which could be put into carbon credits and offset 100s of families’ carbon production and a Prius is a HUGE polluter.

So, let’s look at three things you could do that would actually make a difference:

1.       Take public transportation to work – this saves almost all the carbon from your car but I realize for some people this just is not realistic because of kids or schedule or location.  In that case move closer to work.  I have seen many Prius drivers commuting up to 100 miles each way to work and back, nothing green in that…  Seriously, I live 6 miles from work, if a Prius driver lives 60 miles from work I save 100 miles a day.  At that rate I can drive a Ferrari to work and never emit as much carbon into the atmosphere as the Prius driver.  Seriously, the Ferrari would burn about .5 gallon from my house and the Prius would burn about 1.5 from their house so every day the Prius is digging the driver further in the carbon hole.  Just keep your Camry and move closer to work, talk about saving!

2.       Make your house more efficient – this can save as much as driving a whole car if your house is not fuel efficient already.  Start with adding more insulation, then insulate your hot water heater, take shorter showers, plant more trees around your house, then if you have to change your windows, then as a last resort update your furnace and hot water heater.  You might need to update appliances but see the Prius conversation to understand how shaky that could be WRT saving carbon in the end.

3.       Don’t travel – no seriously, this will save you lots of carbon production, 1 ton per flight.  There are plenty of things to do around your town, take advantage of them.

So next time you feel yourself getting green with envy remember this and get the smug look on your face when you realize you are taking your savings, hoping Sound Transit and going out.

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