squawkfox says...

I was totally wiped out last evening, so I decided to spend the fine time between 8 and 10pm watching the Olympics (perhaps I am obsessed?) and catching up on the 200+ unread items in my Google Reader.  And then I read an entry from Squawkfox - a blog I generally find useful and a worthwhile read - and I got to thinking.

This particular post is entitled 'cars are the new smoking.'  The Fox opens the post with a couple of sentences devoted to her loathing of smokers and SUV drivers.  I tried not to take offense at her hyperventilation (I have a hard time taking hyperventilating liberals seriously) and get through the argument.  She presents a list of similarities between smokers and SUV drivers.  It made me a little mad.  Anything so hugely critical that makes a mass blanket statement about ANY group really gets my goat.

Yes, the popularity that gas guzzlers gained in recent years is appalling.  No, my car is not the best vehicle out there for the environment.  But not ALL SUV drivers are deserving of such vitriol.  

Take me, for example.  I drive a 2001 Toyota Highlander.  It's roomy, it's played the part of truck many times, and it's not hybrid.  Unfortunately, it doesn't have a sunroof, but that's the only complaint I have.

The Fox reminded me of the frequency with which I feel all kinds of eco-guilt heaped on my shoulders because of my SUV.  I handle it, though, because while I do drive an SUV, I'm racking up more eco-points than much of my cohort.  We aren't ALL over-compensating pricks.  Seriously.

Here's how I beat the eco-guilt blues:
- I've had the Highlander for more than 7 years.  The very first command from the save-the-earth triumvirate has always been to reduce consumption.  And stretching one car for 7 years (and then many more!) is certainly more than most people go without trading in and/or up.
- It gets pretty good gas mileage "for an SUV."  Rarely do we dip below 20mpg for consumption, and generally we hover around 22.  Not mind-blowing, but not cringe-worthy either.
- It's the only car we have.  And public transportation around here is...not ideal...so that's saying something.
- It's driven fewer than 10 miles a day - I'd say, fewer than 50 miles a week.  I haven't gotten around to tracking this stat yet, but maybe I will do it next week!  We pay out the nose to be able to live in a location that provides nearly all of our necessities within biking distance, from the mechanic to the drug store to the library to the vet, not to mention Brian's school and my workplace.  A grocery store is the only thing out of reach unfortunately.  Farmers market, though - we've got that one totally covered.  (Incidentally, we considered me biking to work, but the roads I would have to take are not conducive to biker safety and we decided not to risk it.)
- Also, and I haven't figured out how this is beneficial beyond personal financial, my car is completely paid off (thanks Mom!).  I guess it's a sub-factor in the 'reduce' category.

While ideally I'd love to be able to be car-free, it's not quite practical for us right now.  But I take offense at the assertion that I am who is killing the earth without batting an eye.

As a woman, and as a Christian, as a non-liberal, and as a white person, I am bombarded with excuses for why I should feel guilty, and also why I should feel enraged - depending on which spokesperson is speaking to which trait. I don't buy into a lot of the perpetuated guilt going on today.  

I do my best and that's all I can do. I don't take too kindly to being accused.

So with that, I conclude by saying this:  some of us SUV drivers DO have a brain and a conscience, and DON'T suffer from delusions that we are the most important people on earth.  It would do all the hyperventilators some good to quit being so radically close-minded.  Go put THAT in your paper bag and get your fingers out of my face.


  1. I love this one and completely agree with you on all counts. You, in particular, amaze me with your passion and commitment to doing the right thing- from eco-friendly to the opposition of stereotyping. Your brain rocks!

  2. Awesome post! I'm so happy my article got you thinking. :)


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