wasting a whole bunch of money and resources to look nice and pretend to be ‘green’

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.


industrial corporations (and sometimes governments, too) would have you believe that there is nothing wrong with tailings ponds, that they’re just plain old water. anyone who believes that is delusional. go drink the stuff than.

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.

“i just had to have the new model.”

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.

guys like this don’t give a fuck about your environmental concerns. they give a fuck about selling fridges, and will do whatever it takes to do so.

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.


2 thoughts on “wasting a whole bunch of money and resources to look nice and pretend to be ‘green’

  1. I agree with most of what you say, except that cars today get significantly better mileage than their 80s brethern. A 1984 Corolla with a 1.6l engine gets 23/31 and put out 90hp. A 2015 Corolla with its 132hp 1.8l engine gets 29/38. Significantly more power, measurably better fuel economy.

    That said, you can get a used Corolla for a few hundred bucks. The difference between that and spending $25k on a new car buys a LOT of fuel. “It’s greener!” should NEVER be justification for dropping a year’s salary on a new trinket.

  2. i agree that new cars have far more power. they’re also much safer as far as crash ratings go. that actually annoys me in itself though because there would be less need for safety improvements if every vehicle wasn’t a fucking sports car, begging to be wrapped around a telephone pole. and speed limits haven’t changed drastically so what’s the point in making cars so much sportier? it obviously appeals to a lot of boneheads and sells more cars but i don’t think that justifies raising the performance bar.

    the mileage #s your quoting must be from EPA vehicle ratings, which have been proven to be completely bogus. the EPA only checks a few out of every 100 new vehicles, and takes the manufacturer’s word on the rest. it’s a fucking joke, there is basically zero regulation so manufacturers keep spouting ridiculous #s that no one actually achieves in real life. i think the cbc’s fifth estate did a good episode on this.

    also of note is that the EPA has adjusted its figures for old cars numerous times in recent years to ‘more accurately reflect’ what they get. i don’t think it’s coincidence that despite this, we are still seeing inflated figures on new cars. i think the EPA is under a lot of pressure by auto makers to help perpetuate the myth that new cars are soooo much more efficient. it would be a lot harder to sell people cars if they realized all the cheap, old used cars get basically the same fuel economy as the new ones.

    i just checked the corolla stats on fuelly and between ’98 and ’15, all the averages are between 30-33 mpg. from ’90-’97, the average is 28-30 mpg. not much difference over 25 years. there are only a few corollas for the earlier years and a lot of them are drift cars driven by punks so i don’t put much stock in those stats. but i’ve driven enough 4wd tercels to know that one in proper working order averages at least 30 mpg, and they were comparable to the corolla of the same vintage.

    i think an important aspect of this conversation is that as cars age, people tend to neglect them, and neglected cars perform poorly. so i would bet that the majority of ’86 corollas get lousy fuel economy but if people stayed on top of the routine maintenance, they would still be getting similar mileage as their 2015 counterparts. that’s how i justify it my statements to myself, anyway.

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