One in five Americans, or roughly 64 million people, buy and use second hand goods. For many individuals, purchasing gently used items is a way to save money and give their finances a leg up. Still for others, it’s about more than saving their bank account; it’s also about saving the environment. Buying second hand, especially when it comes to larger purchases like vehicles, can add up to some significant benefits and really help to reduce your carbon footprint.
The Manufacturing Process
A hybrid car can boast great gas mileage, but there’s a bit of a hidden catch. A hybrid vehicle actually requires a significant amount of BTU’s (British Thermal Unit) to manufacture. For example, a Toyota Prius uses up 113 million. With a gallon of gasoline being roughly equivalent to 113,000 BTU’s, it’s in effect using 1,000 gallons of gas before even being driven off the lot, and it will be a while before it has saved more than it has used. Buying a used car eliminates the initial carbon debt if you’re careful to select a vehicle that is as fuel efficient as possible for your needs.
The Disposal Process
The majority of the negative effects from a vehicle lie with production and post-production emissions, but it actually doesn’t stop there. There are many materials, such as plastic, steel, and battery acids, that can seep into the ground and stay in the environment when a car is junked. Buying a new vehicle not only creates more demand for new cars, thus more pollution from the manufacturing process, but it often means sending an old vehicle into the abyss that is a junk yard, where it will take up valuable space and potentially damage the surrounding earth on which it rests. Buying a second hand vehicle saves energy, reduces emissions, and saves resource materials.
Drive Away Global Warming
Car pollution is the leading cause of global warming due to their emissions of carbon dioxide and other harmful greenhouse gases. Motor vehicles cause a whopping 75% of carbon monoxide pollution in North America, one third of all the air pollution, and 27% of greenhouse gases. With this in mind, the use of motor vehicles is an area that could really make or break your green efforts. Of course, many people adopt environmentally friendly commute options like walking or bicycling, but opting for a used vehicle with good mileage is also a good start.
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