In honor of Earth Day which is happening today, I would like to bring up again the question of personal responsibility and personal action. A while back I posted an article and a calculator for figuring out how much money and how much carbon you can save by converting to a hybrid vehicle. My conclusion was that buying a hybrid car might not be the most cost effective solution if you want to save carbon (or money for that matter).
My opinion has remained largely unchanged, however, as my 12 year old Geo Prizm is moving towards the end of its useful life cycle, my thoughts have been wandering in the direction of a new car. No, not right now. In fact, probably not for another 2 or 3 years, however, when it's time for the good ol' Prizm to go the way of the dodo, I think I will buy a plug-in hybrid. I haven't done the calculations, heck I still don't know how much these machines will cost, but I think that some things should probably be above direct cost savings.
Anyway, for the time being, I am doing my best to drag the most gas mileage out of my little junker. These days I am getting between 30.5 and 31 miles per gallon out of it. Pretty impressive considering it's got about 120,000 miles on it.
Anyway, if you want to figure out how much carbon you could be saving by going hybrid, and how long it will take you to re-coup your car buying investment, take a look at this calculator that I had previously designed.
Other ways to reduce our environmental impact - my family has taken the following steps: we have swapped out pretty much all of our light bulbs to CFLs, we drink tap water rather than bottled water, we recycle aggressively. My wife has also recently bought re-usable shopping bags. Hey, why not reduce the amount of plastic a bit if we can? Also, Safeway gives us a 5 cent credit for each bag we bring from home. Whoopty dooo. Oh, one more cool thing: we have installed the Edison program on our computers at home to put them in stand-by mode when no-one is actually using them.
Here are some other fine posts that Celebrate Earth Day from around the personal finance blogosphere:
Get Rich Slowly has a post about saving money and the environment
Trent from the Simple Dollar offers lessons about fuel efficient driving
Brip Blap complains that Earth Day is nothing more than lip service to the environment
Cash Money Life has some recommendations about 5 ways to help the environment
Moolanomy has a post asking whether green and socially responsible mutual funds make sense
Money Smart Life has a post about saving the environment at work