Thursday, September 4, 2008

Two Types of Green in this World

I have an announcement: I have decided to go green. You see I like green. I think it is very important. Only the green I’m talking about comes in paper form. You know the kind you might find in a wallet or bank; although not a lot of banks anymore (stupid lending practices), or, for that matter, wallets (stupid spending practices). Don’t get me wrong, I love our environment. The moon would be fun to visit, but who would want to live there? Plus, I’m all about clean air and water. And I’m sure you all realize that SUV’s caused the extinction of the dinosaurs and the Kyoto treaty wasn’t signed during the Little Ice Age of the 1600’s.

But my green helps with other important things in life, like eating or buying iTunes songs. Lucky for the over the top, crazy environmentalists (you know the ones fighting for the rights of one species of roach or flying in private jets all over the world to environmental conferences) , my green happens to correspond to theirs this time.

You see, funny thing about 6 kids, they TAKE UP A LOT OF ROOM. Which is why I drive a huge, gas guzzling, 9-seat Suburban. With the rising gas prices, I am having major green anxiety. Did you know most gas stations have a maximum amount you can buy per purchase? I do. In fact for certain parts of last summer I hit that limit EVERY week. I think it would have been less painful to actually give the station an arm and a leg.

Nowadays, $75 dollars seems to buy about 5 gallons of gas. With my Suburban’s mileage, I estimate that is enough to drive the 3 miles directly home and almost make it back to the station (on fumes, of course). So I have decided I need to find a way to save on my gas budget (which is closely approaching my house payment in size). Here are my ideas thus far:

1- Shrink the children with a shrink ray so they fit in the backseat of a car. This idea was perfect, until I found out shrink rays are hard to find. Did you know that “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” ISN’T a documentary?!? I know, I know, I was shocked, too.

2- Bungee cord one child on top of a minivan. I was in the middle of trying to decide between bungeeing a seat up there or just hooking the cords directly around them when I remembered how our window broke in our 1st house in PA- it involved bungee cords and near eye loss. And a lot of parental yelling. I decided I didn’t want to risk losing my voice (or eye) so I had to retire this idea.

3- Walk. Pioneers did it, why not? I was trying to estimate the size I needed to make my handcart. By the time you added everything I take with me in the Suburban (6 kids, water bottles, snacks, diapers, toys, extra clothes, missing shoes, candy wrappers, old french fries, the kitchen sink, etc.) I found my handcart would need to be, well, suburban size. I tried pushing the suburban. Not so great.

4- Combine outings for fewer trips. Hello, I actually tried this one after the oldest kids started school. Did you know that taking 2 kids to 6 stops is as exhausting as taking 6 kids to 2? And they said I would never need to use 1st grade math skills in real life.

5- Have my husband take the Suburban to work while the kids are in school so I can drive the Audi with my preschoolers. He told me he would get back to me on that one. . .

6- Convert my SUV to run on natural gas, or maybe milk, or uneaten french fries residing under car seats. My kids can come close to producing enough natural gas but not quite (only way to get it yet), milk is nearly as expensive as gas (don’t get me started on my exploding grocery budget), and the science just isn’t there yet for french fries (although I’ve heard some interesting things about used fast-food oil).

7- Buy a transporter. Star Trek isn’t real either? Science-FICTION?!? Totally not fair.

Well I am about out of ideas, plus I just found out that I could only sell my SUV for about $3.67 anyway (apparently no one else wants to spend a fortune on the drive to the supermarket either). I guess I’ll resort to sobbing miserably every time the gas gauge approaches “empty”. It’s not easy being green. Or losing green to my Big Red Suburban. And I think science should start researching shrink rays, transporters, and french fry cars. That would be great.

Join me next week when I discuss how I am trying to conserve water. Family baths anyone? We can wash the dishes at the same time!


  1. Holy cow, THAT was funny. I cry every time we fill up our little, 30ish mpg kia, I can't even fathom what it's like to fill up a Suburban! That is one reason we can't have any more kids, because we could not afford to drive a big car!

    I am all about the french fry car, let's put our heads together and be the first to market it! Then we'd have enough money to buy as much gasoline as we wanted. Of course, by then we wouldn't need it...

  2. Why don't you buy a few scooters? The bigger kids could ride their own scooters and when they are in school you could put Matthew in a back pack carrier and sit Joseph in front of you.

    Or you could try my green method. Sell the Audi, send Peter to work in your car and be stuck at home every day.

    Some day I think you need to post the bungee cord story. Sounds like something we all need to hear.

  3. One more option- there are mini vans with 8 seats. It might be a little crowded, but our (chevy venture) mini van has the option of having 6 back seats, instead of the 5 we have. My friend actually has the extra seat. She loves it.

    But, even with a mini van, it's not easy being green...

  4. Ha Ha, I am SO glad I am not the only one with that lovely french fry smell in the car. I was SO embarassed once when I unexpectedly had to give people a ride in my van and had to move the car seats. Lets just say the birds had plenty to eat that day.

  5. Ha Ha, I am SO glad I am not the only one with that lovely french fry smell in the car. I was SO embarassed once when I unexpectedly had to give people a ride in my van and had to move the car seats. Lets just say the birds had plenty to eat that day.

  6. I'm planning on riding my bike to school because we cant afford the 24 mpg car we have. Maybe you should just run over all the small cars with your SUV so there would be less people driving, thus supply and demand would drive the gas prices back down to slightly unbearable instead of insanely ridiculous

  7. hmmm . . . theres an angle I hadn't looked at yet. Later World Dominance. Could work.

  8. I honestly didn't know that gas stations have a limit. That is going to be the new info I have that I share with everyone. We have the smallest car you can possible buy and I have been grateful for the decent gas millage it gets. The down side is I can not have any more kids, the carseat limit for the car is 2 (and one really small person in between them)

  9. I have enjoyed that aspect of vacation...I haven't filled my car up in over a week! We did fill up the in-laws car one time though, but that was much better than what we use at home.

  10. Becky- the worst part is that when we were pregnant with #6, I wanted a 11 passenger van. Peter was worried about neck injuries w/o headrests, I was worried about kids killing each other if we made them sit too close. Guess who won? But now I am glad we went with the better mileage car.

    Becca- the limit used to be $50, but in the last couple of years most places have raised it to $75. Only twice in 3 months have I gone to the station to fill up and hit full before the limit was reached (I go about every other week).

    Channing- if I waited for my husband to bike to work sometimes, I would never get the car.

  11. It takes about 65 to fill up our minivan and we do it about every third week. Still costs less than a new car.

  12. it is to bad your kids are to young to aparate

  13. I don't mean to brag or anything, but we already employ the brilliant conservation practice of family baths. Not only that I give each family member an article of clothing to scrub and let the dishes soak while we work. Cramped, but efficient.

    First grade math skills in real life made me laugh out loud.

  14. Put me down for one transporter and one shinker-deal. I actually DID cry a few months ago when I went shopping here and filled up with gas right after one another for the first time.

  15. I am totally on board for a car that runs on french fries!
    We were cleaning this weekend and my husband came across a gas recipet from July 2007. Gas was $2.80 and I am sure we were probably pretty indignant about that at the time. I'd love to see gas back at $2.80 and I don't drive a suburban...