Thursday, May 26, 2011

In defense of my gas guzzler

I know, I know, not something you'd ever expect me to say, right? Our truck gets about 14 miles per gallon, which is terrible. It's big, and it's old, and it's not even really ours. Shane's parents have loaned it to us long-term after my old Subie died since they really didn't need it.
Why I don't feel so bad about having such an old, gas-guzzling monster has to do with several issues. The first being, this truck has been (and still often is) used as a truck should be: to haul stuff. Spencer's baggage for college, snow machines (you'll never hear an Alaskan call them "snowmobiles"), furniture, friends, etc, have all been hauled in this truck. I hate it when people get giant trucks and baby them, never hauling anything and simply using them as a status symbol. You're not any more manly for having a truck, I don't care what the commercials tell you. Our truck is used for its intended purpose, which means that its size is useful. After all, the hauling capacity would have to come from somewhere.
The second issue is that we drive it less than the average. Even making at least two 600+ mile trips (to Soldotna and back) each year, we drive it less than the average 12,000 miles that most people put on their cars each year. By biking/walking/busing to work, biking to the stores and friends' houses in the summer, living near institutions like the bank and post office so that we can walk, and carpooling with friends, we don't drive nearly as much as the average person. It kind of rocks. I love that we don't have to drive as much!
Finally, there was a report out a while ago about the fact that, since manufacturing new cars is so energy intensive, keeping an old gas guzzler on the road can be more efficient than buying a new vehicle. (I took the little test at the end of that article and it said, "Good news! You should keep your vehicle.") So people who buy, say, a new Prius every few years might be helping the economy, but they're certainly not helping the environment. Or their wallets. Even factoring in trading in an older version of a car when buying a new one, it's hideously expensive to buy new cars all the time!
As tempting as it is to get a car with better gas mileage, I know that for now keeping the old clunker (and keeping it in good shape--that's just as important!) is better for our bottom line and for the environment. Who knew?

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