Every decision entails a personal calculus, including the choice about transportation. Here is my story of a major decision I made last month about how to get around.
For years, whenever I pumped gas into my car or turned over the key in the ignition, I felt sad and even vaguely suicidal.
I was contributing to the blanket of greenhouse gas surrounding the Earth that causes global warming. Additionally, as the head of the Center for Climate Protection, I felt embarrassed driving in my car propelled by a gas-powered internal combustion engine to meetings where I advocated for reducing emissions.
I resolved to do something about this when it became clear that my husband and I would not relocate closer to my work any time soon.
If I were to be stuck commuting 20 miles round-trip between Graton and Santa Rosa, I was at least going to make the trip in an electric vehicle.
My resolution intensified when my co-worker showed up with his new EV. I felt quite covetous as I parked my ’98 Honda next to his cool Volt. I could barely stand it. I had a bad case of EV envy!
Fortunately, the price of EVs is extremely attractive now. For example, it is easy to find a good used EV for less than $10,000.
I did some online research, honed in on a 2011 Leaf and envisioned a blue one. I searched “2011 Nissan Leaf” “Santa Rosa” in Google and, bam, up popped an electric blue Leaf for $8,900 at Sinatra Auto Group in Santa Rosa. It was in top shape with a new battery and new tires. As a bonus, when I bought it, the dealer joined the Center for Climate Protection as a Business for Clean Energy sponsor.
My Leaf is cute, quiet, seats five, plus cargo, and drives like a dream. It is extremely peppy and smooth. Nothing special is required to charge it. I simply plug it in to the 110-volt wall outlet at night. Because we receive 100 percent renewable electricity as Sonoma Clean Power EverGreen customers, my ride is close to pollution free. It is cleaner and cooler with no noxious exhaust, drippy oil or hot engine.
There is no fueling at dirty gas stations. I haven’t purchased gasoline since I bought it. Only once have I used my old car, which I keep for trips that exceed the approximately 90-mile range of the Leaf.
But the biggest impact of driving my Leaf took me by surprise. I figured I would not feel as guilty about my carbon footprint. But the feeling is much better. I feel blissfully eco now that my values and my day-to-day actions are more closely aligned.
I am not alone in the happiness that comes from making the switch to an electric vehicle. Colleagues and friends are doing the math on the financial impact of leasing or driving. They are talking to other EV owners and taking test drives. They are making the switch and smiling.
Now with my Leaf, I feel fully unleashed to encourage everyone to consider getting an EV. You, too, can feel blissfully eco as you enjoy your ride, save money and help save the planet, too.
Ann Hancock is co-founder and executive director of the Center for Climate Protection whose current initiatives include the electrification of the transportation sector. www.climateprotection.org