this theme has come up in a number of my recent conversations lately. i get really irritated when people think they need to buy a $35,000 hybrid car so that they can feel more ‘efficient’ and ‘green,’ because the resources required to make brand new ‘green’ stuff usually far outweighs any potential improvements in efficiency you’re going to see from them.
think about all the mining, refining, transporting of materials, and manufacturing of parts that must occur before you buy a shiny new car. think about how filthy each of those steps are.
now consider that hybrids and electric cars get superior fuel economy, but most new cars and trucks are not hybrids or electric — most new vehicles are still gas, and they still get virtually the same mileage as cars from the early 80’s on. plus, that old car has already been made, it’s already here. by sticking with old cars, you are not supplementing the continued destruction that goes along with every step of making an automobile. sure, it can be annoying to fix things that eventually need work on an old car, but replacing brake calipers and tie rods is a hell of a lot easier on the planet than making a whole new fucking car every time you hear a clunk or rattle.
the same idea applies to all kinds of other products. people will try to tell you that your 10-yr old fridge and dishwasher and clothes dryer are not quite as efficient as new ones. and guess what, it will only cost you $10,000 to replace all of them. wow, with all you’ll save on your electricity bill, it will only take 50 years to recoup the costs! meanwhile, all your perfectly good old stuff ends up being wasted when it’s recycled long before its time.
do you know what would be more ‘green’ than that? keeping your old stuff in good working order, and not buying into the production of new stuff while throwing away things that still work just fine.
i think all this bullshit is basically driven by just a few factors: greed and vanity. vanity because we like to have new stuff. it looks nice and makes us feel privileged, higher class. but that’s horse shit. you’re still the same schlub you were in your ’87 dodge omni. you just have a flashy new car and appliances now. and greed because the companies making the products and the dealers hawking them to you, they don’t give a fuck about environmental impacts of their work. they’re not making cars and fridges in order to save the world, they’re just telling you what you want to hear so that you’ll buy their shit.
so don’t trust anyone when they try to tell you that you need their brand new junk to be ‘green.’ and know that you’re still the same old dink whether you drive an omni or a brand new VW jetta. remember the big picture and think about what you can live without in order to do less damage to this world. new cars and appliances are a few things, to start with.