Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day--Obligatory Post

Today has been declared (by whom? Don't know.) Blog Action Day, in which all right thinking bloggers are to blog something about the environment. Being the kind of person who always follows all the rules, here is mine.

I drive a minivan. This is no surprise, because I'm a mom. Moms drive minivans. It's a terrible cliche, and we all go through the "just because I'm a mom doesn't mean I'm going to change" rebellion where we swear we will never drive a minivan. Then reality hits. We need minivans, because we need to cart kids and friends and pets and equipment and luggage and groceries, and it becomes clear that we need a minivan.

So, back when my second kidlet was born, it became clear we were going to need something bigger than the Acura we had at the time. Because as soon as we wanted to take our family, plus one--we couldn't. So, after conscientiously driving a bunch of the minivans and SUVs available at the time, I bought the car I had fallen in love with at first sight: a Honda Odyssey.

Mind you, this was back in the day, and the baby is now in middle school. I still have my 1998 Odyssey, and I still love it. That year was the last year that the Odyssey was built on the Accord platform--it had four car doors instead of sliding van doors, it was still a compact, and was essentially a tall station wagon rather than a minivan. The next year, it was wholly redesigned and made bigger, which it continues to be.

So, I am driving a 10 year old car. Mr. Sweetie thinks it's about time I replaced it, but I still love it. Periodically, however, I wonder if it would be environmentally better for me to replace it. So, I go out and look at the auto sites.

Of course, I start with the Odyssey, because I have loved my Hondas. And I keep finding that there is no point in buying a newer Odyssey for several reasons:
  1. Even after 10 years, the current Odysseys don't get any better gas mileage than mine does;
  2. I don't really want to drive a bigger vehicle, and the current Odysseys are a whole lot bigger than mine;
  3. None of the current Odyssey colors is even remotely interesting, while mine is "Blackberry"--meaning it looks black at first glance, but is really a deep purple.
This is not even taking into account the environmental costs of trashing a perfectly good vehicle in order to replace it--the impact of mining for component metals, or the pollution caused by each portion of manufacturing. Sure, I don't have leather seats, room for eight, built-in DVD players, or satellite linked navigation and rear cameras--but mine still suits me.

But, what about other options. What about the hybrid cars? I love the potential of hybrid cars--Kelley Blue Book rates the Toyota Prius at 60 mpg city/51 highway--which is better than twice what I get. But I don't think I could get by with only four people in my car any more. Not for a few more years, anyway.

So, there are the new hybrid SUVs: is that the answer? Some of them get 32+ mpg. But I don't like Fords, I don't think I'm in the market for a Lexus. . .

How do you know when it is time to replace an old vehicle? How can you really ever assess the environmental impact of driving an old car versus manufacturing a new one?

I'm almost tempted to call Click and Clack and ask. "Yes, well, I have a 10 year old Odyssey, and the front seat cup holder is broken, but still holds drinks; the change drawer won't close, but other than that. . ."

No comments: