Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thursday Thoughts

I think this is the question on everyone's minds.

With gas prices sky high, what are you doing to pinch pennies/reduce your dependency on your car?


Anonymous said...

If a difference of $1 - $2 a gallon is drastically hurting your financial situation, you have bigger problems than the price of gas.

And look at what gas does for us, compare that to some luxury items people don't think twice about buying and its fairly cheap.

Bottled water can run about $6 per gallon. Budweiser is $8 a gallon. Salon shampoo tops $30 a gallon. Starbucks Lattes are $45+ per gallon. And various hard liquors can be as much as $75 a gallon!

Dave said...

I agree that the complaining can't get too loud while people are willing to pay out their ears for their daily coffee.

That said, I'm trying to be more cognizant right now of how I'm driving, and trying to get better mileage. It might not a huge difference, but an 5 mpg will add up over time, for very little cost to me.

Meredith said...

You know, I have tried really hard in the 2+ years of having this blog to stay politically correct and not alienate family and friends. Not today my friend.

Dear Mr./Ms. Anoymous:

From the list of items you listed and their expenses, you must not read my blog all that often or else you would know that none of those things you listed appeal to me. I haven't had a beer since I left college because...ew. :( Secondly, my shampoo only costs $1 after the coupon I use. I don't drink lattes or coffees. I enjoy hot chocolates but I pay for those with leftover coins or I make them at home. And hard liquor? Seriously, did you read the title of this blog?! I am a runner. An athlete. Yes I enjoy my occassional margarita but I generally make those at home because they are WAY cheaper.

And yes, gas is expensive. When Dave and I got married 5 years ago I budgeted $15 per week for gasoline (per person). Now I must budget $30 per week per person. That's an addition $60/month which is $720 per year. There's a whole lot more I'd like to be doing with $720 than putting it into my gas tank. And no it doesn't put me in a financial situation; I just think it's ridiculous that the gas companies are making $9 billion per quarter which I'm having to count change to get a freakin' hot chocolate.

Lastly, you obviously didn't read the whole question as the second part asked how you were reducing your dependency on your car. The question goes beyond financials to how we're trying to conserve the earth for us and for future generations. I ride my bike, I recycle, we drive a hybrid car, we are vegetarians. We are trying to do our part and lead by example.

So Mr./Ms. Anonymous, maybe you ought to do your research a little better before you decide to post something sorry horribly out of place on this blog.

To my usual readers, I am so sorry if I offended anybody.

Anonymous said...

First, the gas companies are making billions in profit from the refining of crude oil, NOT by charging an extra $1 on gasoline. Their high profit items include lubricants, petrochemicals, and synthetic fabrics.

Second, my illustration of price comparison may not apply directly to you, my point was to illustrate the 'value to price' ratio of various liquids. Regardless of your usage, gasoline IS affordable once you consider what you are purchasing. If you must have an example that appeals to you, look at the price of milk today: $3.49 / gallon. What is the value of that one gallon? While it is an essential part of a balanced diet, what worked harder for you today, the gallon of milk in your fridge or the gallon of gas in your car?

Second and a half: today's gas price of $3+ may be the highest in actual dollars but it is far from the highest once adjusted for inflation. Be glad you aren't paying $1.20 in 1979. Or compare the price of gas in the US to other countries. $5.96 in Italy or $5.79 in London. Same avg MPG in their cars, and they probably travel more than americans.

Third, you are buying into the hype of being green. Hybrid cars simply offset the power source the consumer utilizes. The battery in your hybrid was made in a factory that burns far more fossil fuels than you will save. Then, when you "retire" you vehicle, those batteries will become hazardous waste. I'm sure the children of today will appreciate the piles of useless hybrid cars we'll leave them.

So you ask, "With prices sky high, what am I doing to pinch pennies"? Well, nothing. I don't care about the price of gas and I certainly won't let the price dictate what I do with my life. In your comment you amend the question to include "how am I trying to conserve the earth". I'm not making nuclear waste, I'm not burning tires in my backyard, I don't leave all my appliances on 24/7, and I've changed all my incandescent lightbulbs to CFLs.

Meredith said...

Dear Anonymous:

I'm going to have to respectively disagree with you. Until Americans change their driving habits, the gas prices are not going to fall. And you're right, the $9 billion oil companies are making PER QUARTER are on different items but the amount of gasoline we are buying is certainly contributing to that. (I've read all those articles on MSNBC too.) I just can't understand why Americans can't put away their car keys and take a walk or ride their bikes to get to places not of necessity. Yes, I have to get to work and yes, it's too far away to ride my bike or walk and there is no easy bus route there, but I don't need to drive my car to the grocery store right across the street or the library 4 miles away.

Secondly, I don't live in Italy or London or even New York or California. Where I live, the price of gas going over $3 is a big deal. We don't have mass transit. We don't even have sidewalks. Most people who live in Ohio and the midwest live paycheck to paycheck so inflation or not $1 increase in gasoline is a big deal.

Thirdly, I didn't amend the question. You didn't read the whole first question. The question states: "With gas prices sky high, what are you doing to pinch pennis/reduce your dependency on your car." Maybe you don't want to buy into the "hype" of green, but I don't believe it's hype. I've been recycling for over 20 years--not because of hype, because it's good for the environment. You can say and think what you want about my hybrid but it's still way better than driving a freakin' Hummer or some suped-up sports car that only takes high performance gasoline.

In closing, it's people like you and your ignorance that is causing the energy crisis we have. You have made me very angry today. And if you don't have the guts to publish your name, you're not welcome to publish on my site. Take your negatively and your ignorance elsewhere.

Dave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jeff said...

wow. way to stick to your guns, m.

i ride in to work at least once a week but that will increase now that the summer months are here. smsmh and i also have a gas efficient vehicle that we take whenever we go anywhere. i think we're pretty low on the carbon footprint scale. our recycling bin is always more full than our garbage bin.

i was reading about the drought in the brisbane area (i hate toast/i like toast posted about it) and the extreme measures they're having to take to conserve water; flushing with grey water, watering gardens with grey water, etc. i realized that despite california claiming to be at the fore of the green movement, if you asked an average californian to turn off the tap while they brush their teeth, they'd be outraged. so, as silly as this sounds, i'm watching how much water i'm letting go down the drain. i figure it'd add up and maybe if i'm vocal about it, it'll encourage others to try the same.

Anderson Circus said...

Hi Mer! Unfortunately for us, there's not too much we can do to cut back on gas usage. When we replace our cars, we're planning on getting more gas efficient ones, and Dave is looking into carpooling with someone from work. The only thing we can definately do right now is cut back on trips to Ohio, but that's not going to happen! So we're just trying to cut in other areas to cover for the higher gas prices.

Dave said...

(Oops, deleted my post accidentally...reposting it)

Hybrid batteries are still a developing technology. I'm sure that money could have been saved in the short run by eschewing the first few windmills that were built in favor of a horse tied to a grinding wheel. In the long run in almost any scenario, costs come down as the necessary technology and skills get cheaper. Perhaps it's more expensive overall at this instant, but I believe that will quickly change.

In regard to people in other countries driving more... From 2003 km driven per capita stats (approximate, I'm pulling from a graph):

UK: 7500
Germany: 8000
France: 8700
USA: 16000

As for average MPG, I can't find any numbers, but I would be shocked if the US average MPG is not significantly lower than the European/Japanese average.

And finally, yes, gasoline does contain more energy than milk.

1 gallon milk: 2,400,000 cal
1 gallon gasoline: 31,000,000 cal

However, given approximately 100,000 calories/mile (100 kcal), I can run 24 miles on that gallon of milk. Not too much different from the average gallon of gas, after all is said and done. Plus, I think we can all agree that the energy and environmental costs of getting that gallon of milk to the store were much less than the gallon of gasoline. :)

Michelle said...

try to consolidate errands into as few trips as possible. I used to ride my bike a lot, but where I live, it's not really feasible right now. I have to admit, I recycle when it's convenient (i.e. when we lived in Gahanna), but haven't been very good about it lately. I do try to reuse stuff like plastic bags, etc.

Boston Road Runner said...

Hey Meredith,

You present a great, well researched argument. I'm impressed.

I can't say that I'm green or great at helping out the environment (when I have my car, it's an SUV) but I think in the past year I've improved my ways. I actually moved into the city and left my car at my parents house - so it isn't used at all. All year I have walked to work, I've started walking home and if I can't walk I take the subway. If I desperately need a car (doctor's appointments, etc.), I joined something called Zipcar which is like a community rental car system.

When I move to Florida, I plan to trade my car in for a more environment-friendly car. But I also want to remember that a car isn't necessary for everything (I was the lone student in college who was always walking across campus while my friends and fellow students were driving).

Finally, it drives me crazy that my apartment complex doesn't recycle. I feel like I'm back in the 80s. I don't know why it isn't even presented as an option. If I were living there for more than a year, I'd try to find out. So hopefully in the next year I can start doing that again...

Andrea said...

I have the luxury of seeing iffering gas prices as I drive my 100mile commute a few days a week. In Plain City, gas prices are still at 3.05. I stopped there the other day and used the same credit card at the pump as well as inside the store... and crashed their systems. Both tills went down, as well as all the pumps. Someone came in to pay for their gas, and their computer systems weren't even registering he'd gotten gas.

So I consider my contribution to the effort to be breaking speedways :)

Jason said...

Everyone here, even "anonymous" (and that wasn't me, Meredith!), makes some good points. I think we all have noble intentions, but I don't think this is a case where grass-roots activism is going to be very effective. Regardless of what your opinion is on this issue, I am a HUGE proponent of the Second Amendment, and have done a lot of grass-roots activities to get CCW passed in Ohio. Meredith did the same sort of thing with last year's ballot Issue 5, which also passed, much to my delight (and surprise, I must admit, but pleasant surprise, I hasten to add!)

Anyway, I really believe big corporations and the government need to get their asses in gear and start doing more, before any of us can. For instance, if ODOT were to build bike lanes that would enable me to ride my bike from my home in Hilliard to work (which is Dublin or downtown Columbus, depending on what I'm doing that day), I would not hesitate at all to take advantage of that. In fact, I feel stupid driving my car to work because it's only an 8-mile drive each way. I would love to ride my bike to work. But it just is not possible right now, unfortunately. Besides the government getting the ball rolling by creating bike lanes on roads, businesses need to do their part, and create places where we can safely store our bikes while we're working.

I would also love to see more public transportation, like a light rail system. I would love to be able to take a train to my dad's house, or to the inlaws, instead of driving my car. But there's nothing we can do to get a train (or monorail or whatever) built.

I'm not trying to rain on anyone's parade, because Meredith is absolutely correct (except for the vegetarian part) and I applaud anyone who recycles or eschews driving their car as much as possible. I just wish "the big guys" would be more active as well.