(CHARLOTTESVILLE :: 11 August 2008) The color may have changed quite dramatically since my original post on the subject, but the crisis of conscience remains the same. So goes my driving life with the as-yet-unnamed, gently used 2005 BMW X3 - a capable if bland SUV that gets me to my point B pretty nicely, albeit a bit more wasteful on gas than I'd like.
But then, on a steamy summer day in Atlanta when I was off to the recycling center at Dekalb Farmer's Market, I realized the true spirit of being "green" (vs. baby-spew orange) is not defined by MPG alone. It's measured in how and what you do with your footprint.
I live within a half-mile of where I work. I walk there and other places. I combine errands to reduce emissions. I walk to my workouts. I try and drive evenly so as to not waste gas (that last one being extremely difficult in the third-world war zone driving scene that is Atlanta). I carpool. I have stopped driving to the airport altogether.
There's something else: I miss my stick shift. Big time. But the trade-off there, if there could be one, is that I know Gracie's new owner - and he's taking good care of her down in Savannah. He's promised me pictures of her, and when he sends them, I'll do a post about it. It's a cool story.
I knew it was just a matter of time before someone snatched up Gracie from the dealership. Back to being green. I continue to clamor for an SUV in the nice-ish luxury category that has not just low emissions - try ZERO. I anticipate that day because I'll be first in line. We need that. To be kind to the planet, to be off our addition to oil (both foreign and domestic) and to be the fabulous country we used to be. Maybe one of those snazzy new diesel engines would do the trick, too. I'm considering a 2009 X3 European delivery with a standard transmission - juice boxes be damned.
So, while you're considering the hybrid "badge of honor," or if you think being green is some sort of status symbol you wear for showmanship, think again. It's in the total picture of the person that really and truly makes a tree hugger.
Alas, I was counting on Basil as my "in" for Halloween, but it wasn't mean to be - at least not in this lifetime. He's now making another driver in metro Atlanta think hard about mileage... and about color.