Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Expense: Gas and Fuel

The latest spill in the Gulf of Mexico made me reconsider how much gasoline we are using.  I know one person can't make that much a difference considering the millions of gallons (thousands of barrels) being spilled daily.  In any case, here's a break down of our gasoline usage.  We currently have 3 cars (though like I said in my previous month's rant, I'm getting rid of some).

Fuel Economy

We average about $163/month in fillups. If we go with today's average gas price of $2.90, that comes out to about 56 gallons of gas or about 1400 miles @25mpg per month.

So for a 30 day month that amounts to about 47 miles/day. A trip from our house to church in our minivan (20MPG) for example is about 40 miles roundtrip costing us almost $6. A lot of our relatives live in Springfield/Alexandria. A trip out there is 27 miles if we take 495-66 and 22 miles if we take Fairfax County Parkway. Either case, it would be about 50 miles roundtrip on average costing about $8 per trip out there.

A drive to work using George (somewhere between 35-40MPG) is about 28 miles or 56 miles roundtrip. So it'll cost about $4.50 on average for a round trip. This is well cheaper than the metro, but not when I got the transit subsidies from work. It's an unnecessary expense, a luxury actually when I drive. It saves almost 2 hours in my commute especially if I drive during the non-rushhour times.

Driving is a Luxury

Can I afford it? Of course I can afford it, but can the planet afford it? Our tendency is to think only of ourselves, but the logical conclusion of that is the congestion in the roadways, the dependency to oil that we may or may not deplete within our lifetime and the unnecessary drilling offshore and in places like Alaska, etc. Sure I may be conservative in my spending, but I also hope to see myself being a good steward of our natural resources, you know, God's creation. But I know I also have the tendency to consume and if everyone thinks that they need to follow the lifestyle of the developed world, especially the developing countries, we (ALL) are in deep trouble.

Soapbox anybody?

Here's my rant: Americans (myself included) and other developed nations have been very negligent of the world's resources because these are luxuries we could afford. The problem is going to arise when the developing countries including China, India, Brazil and others want similar luxuries and similar lifestyles. Technology will improve and more innovative ways of energy may follow, but if we continue on this current path, we'll end up with more oil spills, more wars, and less and less resources.
(Note: the latest Economist has a great section on WATER, go read it)

So here's a challenge to the rest of you out there... what are some ways we can reduce, reuse and recycle? What areas can we be less of a consumer and more contributors? What areas can we be innovative in consuming?

I like new stuff, I like cool gadgets, I like new toys, but I also realize so does everyone else. If everyone continues to buy buy buy, if this continues something is going to give and by that time I hope our desire to consume would be somehow satisfied. But I know the human heart has a God-shaped vacuum that can never be satisfied. We'll fill it with stuff and continue to fill it with stuff and will not be satisfied. That's just the human condition. It cannot be satisfied without the infinite glories and joys of God himself, but until then let's hope and pray at least you and I will be satisfied with life.

I'm not frugal because I'm cheap and want to save a lot of money (ok, that's also a reason), I also see now, that being satisfied with what you have helps the environment and helps us to be good citizens of this world.

As a friend used to tell us: leave this place better than when you first came in. Well, the way we're headed it might not be. But I surely hope we can do better.

Leaving an inheritance for our children's children.

To God be the glory.

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