Should I ditch my old Toyota Corolla and buy a Prius? Hybrids get better mileage, but it takes energy to build a new car, right?
Right - but the green choice is still the Prius. Manufacturing accounts for approximately 10 percent of the energy consumed by an automobile during its life cycle. Gas burned by the engine makes up almost everything else. So if a 1993 Corolla gets 27.5 miles per gallon and a 2006 Prius gets 55 mpg, you should earn back the energy "investment" that went into making the hybrid in about four years. Additionally, by purchasing a Prius, you help tilt the economies of scale in favor of hybrids. Toyota's hybrid technology is still relatively expensive, but production costs will come down as more Priuses are sold. And the more Priuses that fill the roads, the more consumers will view them as a legitimate option for their next car, rather than just trendy eco-boxes for Hollywood do-gooders.
Wired answers three frequent questions about how to "become more green": 1) Should I ditch my old car for a newer hybrid? 2) How much of the USA's energy comes from "alternative" source? 3) Is eating organic food good for the environment, or just hype? We'll quote the answer to question #1 because it was asked in the comments of a recent post, but to read the rest you'll have to go to ::Wired - How can I be more green? or buy the magazine.