How To Buy a Car and Not Totally Wreck The Planet

For the vast majority of Americans, cars are a way of life. Most people live in suburbs or cities that aren’t dense enough to have good public transit.

But the uncomfortable reality is driving is a huge source of carbon emissions. Transportation accounts for 27% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. That’s not good for the planet. All that carbon dioxide is heating up the Earth and causing a host of issues from ocean acidification to more extreme weather.

So, what’s a decent human to do? There are a few basics. For one, you should drive your old car as long as possible, even if it’s a gas guzzler. That may seem counterintuitive, but a huge portion of the carbon emissions associated with driving comes from building and shipping the car itself.


When you car finally craps out, buy the most fuel efficient used car that also fits with your lifestyle. If it’s just you and your cat, go small. If you have a family, consider the most fuel efficient minivan you can afford.

Carpooling is also a no-brainer to reduce your carbon footprint. And the ultimate step is to hop on a bike or take a walk rather than grabbing the keys to the whip.

Check out the above video for more tips on how to balance your need to buy groceries with the need to continue having a habitable planet.

Managing editor, Earther

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“consider the most fuel efficient minivan you can afford”

People still buy minivans???

Hint for you, Brian... they don’t.