After my story "Unsustainable Seattle," in which I questioned conventional wisdom regarding green buildings and touted the ingenuity that preserved Cuba's pre-embargo auto fleet, a reader pointed me to a story from Wired that says the best way to get a greener ride is to buy a used car. There's a rich source of embodied energy in '90s fuel efficient beaters.
According to the story, if you buy a new Prius, you have to drive it 46,000 miles before you "pay back" the energy used to make it in the first place. However, you reduce your carbon footprint faster if you swap your current guzzler for a low-mileage used car.
You'd have to drive the Prius 100,000 miles before starting to show gains over driving a '98 Toyota Tercel. "Get behind the wheel of a 1994 Geo Metro XFi, which matches the Prius' 46 mpg, and the Prius would never close the carbon gap," the story reports. According to USA Today, these nerdy econo-cars — including Ford Festivas, Hyundai Excels, and Geo Metros — are selling like hotcakes.
Savvy American drivers can now create a whole new generation of planet-saving "yank tanks." If you have any trouble holding your beater together, you might want to consult Bellingham author Ron Judd's Blue Tarp Bible to learn how this miracle petroleum product can fix any problem. That and a little duct tape.