Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In Honor of Earth Day...

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

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Steve @ brip blap said...

Thanks for the mention - my title looks a little bit grumpy mixed in with the other more-helpful-sounding titles, doesn't it?

Shadox said...

Yeah, but I actually pretty much agree with your point.

However, I am somewhat more optimistic. I think that the more you talk about something the more action you prompt. Even if that action is small to begin with, over time it gains momentum and impact.

For example, when we started out with CFLs, I changed out one. I then added a few more. Then we replaced virtually all of them. Then I started thinking about other things we could do, so we installed Edison on our computers. Then we gave up on bottled water...

It's a rolling thing. You get started, you get in the habit and things move faster from there. The only way to create some small habits is to get people aware. It's all about awareness.

patrick said...

Thanks for the mention, Shadox. We also started out bit by bit. First it was aggressive recycling (everything we could possibly recycle), then it was CFLs, then reusable shopping bags, etc.

We will be in the market for a new car in a year or two and will consider hybrids at that time. Even if it doesn't make the most sense financially, it might have an impact on our use of resources. And we will plan on keeping the car for quite some time, so hopefully it will pay off in the long run.

Ben said...

I was raised as a recycler; now that we have kids it's not just a habit, it's a down payment on a clean world for them to live in.

Thanks for pointing out my article on saving the environment at work!