College Wheels When You Need Them

Highway Overpass DrawingAutomobiles are oftentimes thought to be a birth right in many countries – that’s especially true in the U.S.   So with this mindset, how can we go green with smarter car choices.   Car ownership has its responsibilities both financially and environmentally.   It can be a choking responsibility, so what not opt for a car sharing option from time to time and go green?

An innovative, rapidly growing company, ZipCar is addressing the needs of many forward-thinking Americans and at the same time helping reduce their carbon footprint, greenhouse gas emissions, reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.   Folks are finding that the burden of ownership or lease is not worth it and more and more are choosing to grab some wheels only when they need them and leave the maintenance and parking hassles to someone else.

Zip Car is now part of the Avis / Budget / Enterprise conglomerate.   Hertz has been busy rolling out its own unique version of an urban short term rental car parked nearby when you need it. This is not an advertisement for Zip Cars, we’re being objective here.  Purely from an environmental perspective, it is a really smart solution to ownership and allows you flexibility without the ownership burdens – what’s not to like

Check Out the ZipCar Alternative

If you live on a college campus or in an urban area, seriously consider this alternative. More and more Zip Cars are being positioned on college campus and are popping up in more and more convenient urban areas.  They cleverly have small trucks available for those weekend moving needs. If your parents sent you to college without a car, or even if its a hassle to park your car near your apartment or town home, consider this as an option. Right now Zip Cars are located on more than a 125 college campus – click for a list of college campus ZipCar locations.

In many urban areas, the car sharing idea has become so popular that regulations are being changed to ensure that as residential buildings are built, car sharing spots are part of the design. For instance, in San Francisco, car share spots are being designed in new builds of 50 new residential units or more. This will help make residents lives easier by providing them with cars, but also will help the environment by giving people options to car ownership.

What most people don’t think about is that there is an incredible amount of energy consumed and carbon output from car manufacturing. Experts calculate that owners need to add another 50% to the car’s lifetime carbon and greenhouse gas output, just for manufacturing. So every car’s carbon footprint is 150% of its lifetime tailpipe emissions. Avoiding ownership, avoids 50% of this alone.

When you own a car, you have this sense of obligation to drive it. You probably paid ten, twenty, maybe even thirty thousand dollars for the mechanical wonder, so there is pressure to utilize it, even if you have other convenient options (public transportation, interstate bus, train, bike).

Since car use is one the biggest inputs to everyone’s carbon footprint, car ownership and options need to be scrutinized. It is a long-term comittment and a big investment. Zip Cars alleviate some of the stress our dependence on cars has put on the environment.

Being a part of a car sharing program is a great way to wean yourself off of being dependent on car ownership and petroleum, something that will be more and more important as this source of fuel becomes less readily available. Every zip car takes the place of between 15-20 owned cars, so if more people joined the service and dropped their personal cars, our collective carbon footprint would shrink.

Finally, zip car users save $500 a month!! Even if you only saved a fraction of that average you’ll be saving thousands of dollars a year. Zip Car customer avoid hefty car insurance payments, monthly car payments, maintenance costs, and inspections. With the both personal savings and less environmental impact tilting in the zip car’s favor, it’s hard to justify owning a car in an urban area.

Take a moment to look at the ZipCar website and compare the cost of alternative car usage to all that carrying costs. You will reduce your environmental impact and conveniently put more green in your wallet.

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About the author

John R. Garnet

John's work in the energy market fostered his interest in the environment. He recently completed his graduate work at George Mason University, But more interestingly, John has a passion for food and cooking and to provides some light-hearted tips to make people's lives greener while enjoy the good life with everyday practical tips from brewing tea, growing basil, or drinking raw milk.