It’s finally happened: being “green” has actually become the trendy and cool thing to do! While this is great news for the environment, it also means we all need to get clear on how to actually do it. As it turns out, there is no small amount of confusion when it comes to things like what kind of vehicle is the most environmentally friendly option. Maybe you’ve even asked yourself this question: is it better to stop in to see your local used car dealers or to buy some fancy new “green” machine?
Manufacturing Versus Recycling
Most people nowadays have become accustomed to recycling things like glass, paper, and plastic. It makes sense, after all, to re-use such things rather than send them to landfill while still creating yet more of the same waste products all over again. Well, the same is true for vehicles. Think of everything that goes into fabricating a new auto and of all the materials required – the metal, plastic, electrical circuitry, and more – and the difficulty of disposing of all of that in a responsible fashion. Clearly, it makes sense to try to maintain a roadworthy vehicle for as long as possible. Studies have actually shown that between 12 and 28 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions generated over the entire “life” of a typical vehicle are emitted during manufacturing, before it even takes to the streets! But when it comes to manufacturing hybrids, that process has an even higher environmental impact – about twice as much as manufacturing a regular vehicle. Buying a used car is the clear winner of this round.
Electricity Versus Gasoline
This one seems obvious at first glance. Surely the fact that a new, high-tech hybrid runs on an electrical charge means that it is cleaner and greener, right? Well, no actually. If you look a little closer, you’ll find that the reality doesn’t live up to the hype. Today, the majority of the world’s electrical energy still comes from steam turbine generators that run on fossil fuels, so most of the electricity required to charge the electric car batteries stems from the same fossil-fuel-consuming power plants as everything else. Until the energy itself is produced in a green way, running an electric vehicle still creates carbon emissions. When you factor in the heavy environmental impact of manufacture, as explained above, and the mining of lithium for the vehicle batteries, it seems that visiting used car dealers for a vehicle that gets good gas mileage is again the better option.
Time Versus Money
Everyone knows the familiar saying – time is money! Well, one sometimes overlooked aspect of “being green” is that of simple efficiency, so let’s not forget to also examine whether our shiny new devices are making us more or less effective. Could we be wasting time, and therefore money, by making and using things that are supposed to conserve energy? For example, consider an electric auto with a range of about 75 miles per charge, and then consider the time spent on longer trips. Obviously, drivers will need to incorporate recharging time into their overall trip time, expressed as miles per hour. Incredibly, one test showed that the rate of travel over a long road trip in an electric car was at a leisurely six miles per hour! That’s only slightly faster than a donkey. The used car once again comes out on top in our final round, making that a clean sweep.
So now that you know, go check out the models available at your local used car dealers and spread the word – the greenest machines are the ones previously owned by someone else!