|Each one of those tiny dots is a brand-new car. Zillions --literally zillions!-- of unsold cars are piling up in makeshift parking lots around the world.|
Most people picture a semi-bald, maybe even with a comb-over, big bellied salesman in a stale jacket when we think of used car lots. However, buying used vehicles offers benefits beyond just maximizing the value of your cash...and getting to hang out with such a stud. Jokes aside, Jodi Olson, the Frugalitarian, says, “Buying used is just about the ‘greenest’ thing you can do”. Especially when it comes to purchasing a previously owned vehicle. It saves our natural resources, especially petroleum. Hybrid cars don’t even beat out a classic 1984 Honda Civic. As Matt Power states in this month’s issue of Wired, hybrids get great gas mileage but it takes 113 million BTUs of energy to make a Toyota Prius. Because there are about 113,000 BTUs of energy in a gallon of gasoline, the Prius has consumed the equivalent of 1,000 gallons of gasoline before it even reaches the showroom. Here locally in Oregon, a 2006 market research firm released an incendiary 500-page report stating a Humvee (13 miles per gallon city, 16 highway) uses less energy than a Prius (48 city, 45 highway). Ironically, pound for pound, making a Prius contributes more carbon to the atmosphere than making a Hummer. The battery in hybrid cars is what’s thought to be as one of the most detrimental to our environment. When people get rid of something and say the are going to throw it away, well, there is no “away”. “It” stays, and “it” gets more toxic as years pass. Concerns have been raised that if the number of hybrid cars increase, landfills will soon overflow with toxic batteries that are full of corrosive and carcinogenic materials.Buying a used vehicle also reduces energy consumption and pollution. You save on the pollution generated by producing the product, manufacturing the product, transporting to stores, and then finally, you going to get the product. New cars come with extensive packaging and plastic covers. Usually a private seller leaves some of his child’s crayons smeared into the backseat, but that’s just about all the “covering” a used car typically presents. Out of the top 5 materials used in manufacturing a new vehicle, plastic is number #2. Four percent of the world’s annual oil production of some 84.5 million barrels per day is used as feedstock for plastic, and roughly 4 percent provides the energy to transform that feedstock into handy plastic. Upholstery also requires some fraction of petroleum to be produced, and although some paints are produced without petroleum, the majority of paints contain some ratio of this crude oil. You don’t have to sacrifice taste, quality, or style, when you buy used. It’s what we all sacrifice when new cars are continually generated and old ones are thrown “away”.