Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Smaller is Better

I am not a particularly "green" person. Yes, I insist that we recycle what we can. Yes, I try to reuse some of what we can (that includes garage sales!) Yes, I try to turn off our lights when not in use - even trying to get the kids into that habit.

But usually, if I'm doing something environmentally friendly, it's because it makes MY life easier RIGHT NOW. I am a selfish environmentalist.

But there's this one tiny thing that has really started to bother me lately. I think it has something to do with the pregnancy hormones - little random things can put my teeth on edge at any time, it seems.

Anyway. We know a couple who are around 50 years old, with no children at home...and BOTH of them drive huge Suburban-type SUV's to their respective jobs. The wife rides her bike to work in the summer, which is great and admirable. However, it also proves that she doesn't live that far from work. It is really starting to irritate me that she drives this enormous vehicle to and from work everyday -sometimes twice, if she comes home for lunch!

Part of my frustration with this situation is that I just can't understand choosing a big vehicle over a smaller one. Sure, big ones are "safer" - as long as you are the biggest one on the road or whoever hits you is smaller. We could all drive tanks, too. And, it is REALLY annoying to be waiting to turn and have a larger vehicle pull up and block your view.

But. I HATE parking larger vehicles. I like being able to make a tight turn quickly. I just feel more in control when I'm driving a car versus something big...even my minivan, which I confess, I pretty much love.

As great as minivans are for moms, we didn't get ours until I was about 7 months pregnant...with our SECOND child. We would have waited longer, but I was getting very uncomfortable, and had whacked my head on the door frame more than a couple times while getting Leah into her carseat. Of course, we could still be managing with a car. But it has been really nice to have that extra cargo space for our driving vacations (which are often, since we drive several times a year to see family who live 4 hrs.+ away from us) as well as hauling remodeling supplies...and yes, our purchases from Ikea.

We know several new parents who are buying a minivan with the arrival of their first child - I wouldn't recommend it, but it makes sense in each of their circumstances.

I, however, am dreaming of the day that I can go back to a cute little car...


Joyful Living said...

Oh my goodness! I am in FULL agreement! I am coveting the day I can purchase my mini Honda!

Noel said...

Yikes...Blogspot lost my rather lengthy response which roughly went.

* We like our Mazda 5 minivan which seats 6, gets up to 32 mpg at 55 mph, and is great for going to Grandma's house. It isn't great on snow.

* We traded MY Subaru for the M5 and now, as a middle aged guy, I drive a nine year old minivan, but only 4000-5000 miles/year. The space and stability of the traditional minivan is nice per Liz's post.

* In 2012 when we are due to replace one of the above, I'd like to get a Toyota hybrid minivan, but due to having 2 teenaged drivers, may opt for something cheaper and less dear.

* I look forward to riding my bike to work this summer to save on gas and improve cardio health, but after watching our 4 ft deep egress windo well fill with snow today, that dream seems further off....

Katie's Casual Encounters said...

Oh...I sooo love my TrailBlazer! It has been absolutely, positively necessary in these winter months here on the frozen, desolate prairie (just ask your Dad...), but I, too, miss the days of my little Neon and Grand Am. Those were the days...ahh....Thanks for the opportunity to reminisce!

Stacie said...

I am going to have to disagree. I have always driven a small car until the time that we got our minivan & I am looking forward to the day that Chris finally gets me an SUV. I'm all about being in the safest vehicle for me & my children even if it isn't the most environmentally friendly. 4 wheel drive is also much needed in this lovely state.

mama.nichols4 said...

I've driven all sorts of vehicles, and as with anything, comfort costs and that generally equates to something larger, when it comes to vehicles. I've noticed that more mature generations tend to drive larger cars which are no better off on gas mileage, nor park-ability. For whatever reason people pick their vehicles here are my thoughts,

-I like being up, off the ground so I can actually see what's going on.

-I like to know that I'm not going to get stuck in the driveway in a pile of white stuff.

-I like stretching to get up, into a vehicle versus falling on my bum and hitting my head on the way down, not to mention the backaches from putting kids in a low car.

Granted.. I did thoroughly enjoy the speed and road suction of one of my former cars.. (long before kids)

I foresee a suburban in my future, not just because I have 4 kids but because I miss my Jeep Grand Cherokee that preceded my minivan. (comfort, reliability, space, speed, you name it.. )

Noel said...

Subaru Outback and Toyota Rav4 are both 4WD and get 28-30 mpg highway. Rav4 has a version with a third row seat. There is also the Toyota Hybrid Highlander which gets in the 30s mpg and has 4WD and a third row seat. A colleague with one really likes it.

Aaron said...

I'm definitely part of the camp that feels guilty if there is any unused cargo space in the car I'm driving.

Ruth said...

Honda CR-Vs forever! high enough for loading things in and out, great gas mileage, and not too tall, but tall enough to see what magazine the passenger is reading in a honda civic.

although i only drive it once a week, i love it. and the owners manual includes instructions on positioning your car seats for a full recline (camping in your car).

suh weet.

chubbiechemist said...

I guess that is why, as Americans, we have free choice. Ha, and the government wants to control what we buy due to the environment / economy (I foresee it...)? It's all about convenience. Al Gore did in fact win a Nobel prize for his "ecofriendliness". Oh, the hypocrites that tell you to take the bus or a bike to work/ school but yet take a private jet for his "appearances".