"You are a gas hog" -- more on green driving

My inbox is still feeling the aftershocks of last week's column about green driving.

Some of the emails leave me with some explaining to do.

To those who noted that carpooling and public transportation are the greener option, I couldn't agree more. The point of the column wasn't to analyze transportation options, but to point out how, given one's current car and driving patterns, it's possible to make a difference with better driving.

Then there is, alas, the matter of my commute itself. Here's one email I got:

No matter how prudent you drive, you are a gas hog because you choose to live so far from work. You clog highways, misuse land ( by having a suburban size yard) and contribute to the brain drain in the city, from which you parasite your living. I implore you to move to the city, to a more sustainable living space, where you can contribute the social safety net. Support our city schools. Be responsible and save the earth. Think Globally, Act Locally. Act Responsibly. Your carbon footprint is atrocious. Don't fool yourself.

Yikes! But I do think that the writer raises several interesting and valid points that merit airing.

It's generally true that city-living, with its shared household walls and walkability and more, is often the greener option.  Unless, of course, you’re a city-dweller who eats beef every day and has a million lights blazing and TVs blaring and you drive an SUV to the airport for lengthy flights to farflung places. Life isn’t just one thing, like a commute.

But it’s also true that to any conscientious person, my commute really is an environmental affront. As much as I love my Prius, I also think of it as a kind of penance for where I live and how far I drive. It’s also part of the reason I telecommute one day a week — in addition to economic reasons and to promote my general sanity.

But life gets complicated real fast. Part of the reason I live where I do is to allow my husband to do the work he does. His commute is about 200 feet from our front door.

The writer makes assumptions about our lawn, which made me laugh. Any self-respecting horticulturist would recoil at what I figure is his image of my “suburban lawn.” Actually, the property is more trees and plantings than the weeds we call lawn. And I would hope that my trees clean the air somewhat.

It would be very difficult to find a spot in the city where I could have as large a vegetable garden,  one that allows us to donate whatever we can’t eat or preserve to a local food bank.

What I don’t get is the comment about parasitism. I pay my taxes in the city, every cent they ask of me, and even more since I actually don’t work in the city one day a week but pay those taxes anyway. How is that being a parasite any more than some city dweller that comes to King of Prussia to work?

I’m not sure I’m a brain drain from he city, either. I would contend that I use my brain more strenuously for the hours I’m in the city than the hours I’m zoning out in the rocker on my front porch listening to the birds.

 Speaking of which -- although this isn't a debate about my entire lifestyle, and I never set myself up as an ecosaint anyway, just a normal person who thinks about this stuff --  could I get in one more plug about where I live?

I think the world needs more people for whom daily association with constellations and the particular songs of particular birds is a pleasure, and even a need. Has anyone been watching the slowly-progressing dance between Venus, Jupiter and the moon that’s been happening over the last month? Isn't it awesome?

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