The Carbon Footprint Perspective On Buying A Pickup

If you are considering purchasing a pickup truck and have any intention of reducing and minimizing your carbon footprint, the amount of CO2 you emit over the next ten years, first consider this perspective before you drive your new pickup off the dealer’s lot.

As you know, pickup trucks are everywhere these days and are no longer the no-frills, affordable workhorses they once were years ago. People are now using these utility vehicles for everyday family transportation and with that everyday use have brought new demands for amenities and luxuries previously only found in cars. Construction or Building

Along with these cushier car interiors and sportier exterior features, the average price of new pickups has increased 37% over the last decade. The average price across all the popular models is approaching $40,000, that’s an average price $16,500 more than an average mid-size car, a significant percentage of many a hardworking person’s annual take home pay

But what hasn’t changed much is the relatively poor gas mileage of these pickups – it is pathetic. Plus many models are driven by lung injuring diesel fuel.

Purchasers have overlooked abysmal fuel consumption ratings and instead focused on seat comfort, exterior glitz, and curb image.

In 2017, most vehicles in the pickup category only pulled 20 or 21 miles per gallon. No wonder, large swaths of America closely follow fluctuating fuel prices more than the price of milk. They’re anchored with these gas guzzling, CO2 belching outdated technologies that do not match their transportation needs – mostly for the sake of some elusive image planted there by corporate America and Madison Ave advertising firms.

In 2016 across the U.S., 2.5 million new pickups were sold, joining the herd of 90 million motor vehicles produced worldwide, all simultaneously belching out noxious particulates, because many are diesel engines, along with tons of CO2, while needlessly consuming fuel at levels at which better technology or other buying options could avoid.

Considering a new or used pickup truck versus another vehicle type is basically an environmental choice. It is a choice between this outdated mode of transportation that likely a mismatch with your long-term lifestyle needs and a more fitting option with another vehicle category with better fuel efficiency and less long-term environmental impact because it consumes less fossil fuel.

It is also a lifestyle choice and practical use choice. If you work in agriculture or in a trade that requires either hauling loads of raw materials or bringing along the trade tools, then a pickup is a practical fit. But if you considering a pickup mostly for image sake, and rarely haul anything, then you are basically succumbing to those ever-present TV commercial images about the thrills of driving a pickup.

If you can meet your lifestyle needs with a car that gets 5-10 more miles per gallon compared to the average pickup, that equates to meaningful savings for both your wallet and MORE IMPORTANTLY an impressive impact to your CO2 output and the reduction in the size of your carbon footprint.

The chart below assumes illustrates this point. Assume that you that buy an average new pickup rated at 20 miles per gallon overall (city and highway) and own and operate the truck for ten years, or 120,000 miles. Over the course of these miles, your truck will consume 6,000 gallons about $15,000 in gasoline (@$2.50/gallon), probably more.

co2 impact

If instead, you opted to purchase an average car (28mpg), or even a compact (35mpg), or better yet a fuel efficient car (50mpg), the savings from less fuel consumption quickly fatten your savings account.

From a carbon footprint perspective, it is even more impressive. Driving this pickup over a typical 120,000-mile lifetime emits enough CO2 to fill almost 50 Washington Monuments with CO2. Keep in mind that the Washington Monument is 555 feet tall and 55 feet at the base and is the world’s tallest stone structure – pretty substantial. Your pickup truck alone fills 50 of these with CO2, a byproduct that takes Mother Nature decades to absorb.

Given the wide assortment of more fuel efficient transportations options, and your changing driving needs over the next decade with a smarter choice you could avoid filling 13 Washington Monuments with CO2 if you opted for an average car, 20 for a compact, and even more if you opted for either the 35 or 50 mpg fuel efficient models.

If you are really serious about minimizing your carbon footprint (CO2) and that of your family’s, then opt instead for any one of the better fuel efficiency category options – a compact, electric SUV, or a fuel efficient SUV, emitted considerably less CO2 over its useful lifespan. Unless you absolutely need a pickup for your livelihood or living situation, nix the pickup truck option for Mother Nature’s sake and simply sit back with a fatter wallet and small carbon footprint and enjoy those macho truck ads on TV.


About the author

Keith Blizzard

A life-long environmentalist, Keith set out on the never ending journey of adjusting his lifestyle to a more sustainable one, with a goal of annually shrinking his carbon footprint. When he looked around for a dependable source of meaningful carbon footprint reduction ideas, it was pretty lame - so he launched Green Blizzard loaded with eco-friendly lifestyle tweaks. When he's not managing Green Blizzard, you'll find him on the trails around Mid Coast Maine with his trusty trail companion mutt, Moose.