Friday, May 07, 2010

Attempts at Greenishness: Carpooling

I realize "greenishness" isn't a word. That won't stop me from using it. I like it. I may try to use it several times throughout this post.

I promised in an earlier post that I would write a little about our attempts to be green on the farm, and some of the unavoidable actions we take that aren't even remotely greenish. So, here is part one. I was planning on making it once post, but the thing is...it's a lot of explanation because of our lifestyle. So, I'll focus on one thing at at time and make this topic a series of posts.

A lot of the things I do that are green are things I've done for a long time, not because it was trendy to be green, but because I really believe they are good choices for my lifestyle (now our lifestyle.) A lot of our green choices are also because it will save us a tremendous amount of money. 

We drive about 70 miles one way (well, Mike would be a little less on his own since he works about 10 miles closer to home than I do). We decided it would probably be good for both the environment and our fuel budget to carpool whenever possible. When I was working part-time, we never missed a day of carpooling unless there was something major. Now that I'm back to full time, our goal is to keep it at least 3 days a week of carpooling, the 4th if I'm up to it. This week, we rock and have made it all 4 days. So, what do we save?

My Ford Escape averages about 23 mpg, and Mike's Chevy Cavalier averages around 32. We'll go with his car, since we mostly drive the Escape when we carpool. By him not driving to work separately, we're not using 4 gallons of fuel per day. The price of fuel near us right now is about $2.85/gallon. That's $11.40 saved per day, $45.60/week, and a whopping $2371.20/year. Can you believe that? I couldn't when we first started doing it. Now, the green part...we're saving 16 gallons of fuel per week or 832 gallons per year.

Also - since I drive 140 mile per day, I should be having my oil changed about every 21 working days, which for us is once a month. Since it's mostly highway miles, we usually try to stretch it to 5000 miles between changes, which ups it to 35 days between oil changes..or 6 weeks of working. Oil changes cost $30ish each time (when we have someone else do them - Mike does them when he has time, and obviously, the cost drops significantly.) 9 oil changes a year per car driving to work = $360. The car's oil does need to be changed about 4 times a year, but we're still saving 5 oil changes (or $150) per year by not driving both cars daily. Not to mention the quarts of oil that are saved...I can't remember off the top of my head how many quarts of oil it takes to change the car's oil, but we'll go on the low end and say 4 per change. That's at least 16 quarts of oil that are not being used per year by the Vogt clan.

We're making our vehicles last a lot longer too, by not driving both of them 140 miles per day...the wear and tear is much, much less. The amount of air pollution we produce is cut by half-ish (I'm not knowledgeable in the ways of emissions, but I assume the Escape produces more than the Cavalier, so I say half-ish).

The other thing that's particular to our situation relates to time, but is also green. Here's the story. Mike works 10.5-hour days, as I've said. I work 8.5-hour days. On days when I don't work late (which is none this week), I have 2.5 hours to kill (I drop Mike off at work before I go in at 7:30, so he kills 30 minutes in the morning..that's why I have to kill an extra 30 in the evening.) Anyway, I use the time I have to run whatever errands we have to for the week...grocery shopping, trips to Target, stopping at the bank, visiting my family, etc. We don't have any of those things where I live, but obviously do in Omaha. I take the time that I'm already there to do them, and save myself the trip into Lincoln on the weekends (at least 25 miles each way, depending on where we're going.) Even assuming that I could do all of those errands on one trip, in one shopping center in Lincoln (except visiting my family), we're saving another 50+ miles a week of driving. When I take a trip to visit my family, it's only 13 miles max from my work. When I drive from home on the weekends, it's 74 miles. So, every time I can visit them from work instead of home, I'm saving 61 miles each way or 122 miles round-trip.

I've obviously thought a lot about this, both in terms of our impact to the environment living so far from where we work and driving an SUV, and in terms of the effects on our budget. That's what happens when you spend 2+ hours a day in a car going to & from work.

I know that's a lot of explaining, but carpooling in our case is a big one...thanks for getting through that, if you did. If not, I don't blame you. Though, you probably won't have read that I don't blame you. Eh.

Like I said, this is part 1 in the series. Next up: Gardening

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