A Simple Solution to the Gas Crisis

This solution is so simple, I’ve been waiting for an elected official or news agency to begin pushing it. You can get your gas cost down to $2 a gallon. You can even drop it to $1.34 a gallon or as little as $1 a gallon. And pretty much everyone in the U.S. could do it … tomorrow.

Just carpool. Period.

I’ve read how Beijing plans to cut pollution during the Olympics in half by placing restrictions on driving. They are basing their restrictions on the last digit of the license plates. If your plate ends in an odd number, you get to drive one day, even numbers the next day. And if they want to get to work on that driving off day? They have to get in a car with someone else.

As Americans, we have languished for too long in bigger and bigger cars, driving solo for the convenience of being able to run our errands on our own time. If we all changed our habits to schedule our errands on a single day of the week, we could carpool the other four. Sure, it’s not always convenient … as a faculty member, I have an extremely flexible schedule. Some days I only have to be at school for 3 hours. But I’m carpooling. It doesn’t hurt me to hang out on campus and get more work done there. It does require a little more planning. Some days I have to get up earlier in the morning or stay later in the day, but you know what? I’m doing my part.

And what’s with all the parents driving their children to school every day? And the high school students who have to drive themselves. If there is school bus service in your school district, use it. School buses are the ultimate carpool. I rode the bus to and from school until my Junior year. Then we had a 4-person carpool – and when it wasn’t convenient to carpool, I rode the bus. Okay, so it’s not cool to ride the school bus. Well, cool has become expensive. Riding the bus is, however green.

This is where my husband chimes in and says … but I have to stay late at work some nights, and I don’t want to inconvenience a carpool. Maybe its time Americans stopped working all those unpaid extra hours. Maybe your carpool can all stay late one or two (scheduled) nights a week. Maybe they can go work out at the gym while you stay late at the office, picking you up after their workout.

I’ve read these dumb letters to the editor and email spam saying that we can have a “large impact” on gas prices if we all refuse to buy gas for one or two days. That’s B.S. In order to not buy gas for two days, we would all stock up before the boycott. Then we’d all rush out to buy gas the day after. We wouldn’t make the least dent in the gas market.

What we really should be doing is making a pledge to find a carpool. If all of us began to carpool three days a week, I imagine we could instantly cut the oil consumption in the U.S. by as much as 10%. The more people in your car the better.

That’s how we say – we’ve had enough.

It’s what we should have been doing all along.

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Trying to be greener

I’ve decided to try to carpool twice a week, but AT LEAST once a week. For an academic, carpooling is weird because we rarely work 8am-5pm and it’s hard to find someone else with a compatible schedule. So, I’ve started adjusting one or two days a week to fit a “normal” schedule and I’ve been carpooling with either Joel or my friend Sally. This means that JOEL is also having to carpool one day a week (I’ve been giving him a hard time about his lack of carpooling for years now).

Also, our grocery store just started selling 99-cent reusable grocery bags. So here’s a picture of my first day of using reusable bags. I’ve got to say that I already like this change better – the new bags do not fall over in the car because they have square bottoms. They are also REALLY strong and they have special pull out compartments for things like milk (or wine) to keep them from falling over in the bag.

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