What’s an environmental-wannabe mom to do?

I want a minivan. There, I’ve said it. It’s now out there in the public record, and I can’t take it back. Prior to having children, I never really understood the need for a Zamboni-sized vehicle. But I gave up on looking cool six years ago when I purchased a VW station wagon. I’m just one minivan shy of throwing in the towel, purchasing some mom jeans, and donning a holiday sweater.

It’s not that I need a huge car. 95% of the time there are only 3 humans in my vehicle. I’m sure the heavy-duty carpool days are ahead, but it’s rare that I need more than 3 car seats in my car at a time. My desire for a minivan comes down to these simple words: Automatic Opening Doors. Pathetic, I know, but I really think this amazing feature would significantly change my life. First, we live on a hillside, and our driveway is ridiculously slanted. I’m just waiting for one of my children to pull on a door while climbing in and cut off a limb. Second, I circle my car at least 3 times every time we get in or out, letting one child in, buckling another, handing a toy/book/cup to the first again, etc. This frustrates me. So, I want a minivan.

However, as a mom who truly is trying to have less of a negative impact on the environment, I’m committed to purchasing a hybrid vehicle for my next car. I feel guilty on almost every car trip I take these days, that I’m just sucking the clean air out of the sky with my 20-something-MPG VW. Nevermind that I might as well be throwing $10 bills out the window while driving down I-40 given current gas prices.

So what is an environmental-wannabe mom to do? Rumor has it that Honda is coming out with a hybrid Odyssey in the next few years. Rumor also has it that it will sell for roughly $40,000. And rumor has it the Kersh family will not be purchasing this van. A hybrid SUV with a third row helps with the guilt factor, but doesn’t include my required feature of automatic opening doors.

So I’m stuck in neutral. I’m open to your ideas. Please feel free to post comments and thoughts. Perhaps we’ll start a grassroots movement that will influence Detroit. Or maybe you’ll just tell me to suck it up, level my driveway and keep on walking around my car.

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2 Responses to What’s an environmental-wannabe mom to do?

  1. Neva says:

    I LOVE my Honda Odyssey for exactly the reasons you write about – especially the automatic doors, but I will say the gas mileage has been pretty disappointing. Just today I filled up the tank and calculated that I got only 17 mpg this tank (all city driving). I have done as well as 22 but that’s it. I expected better since it has this continuous variable transmission that causes it to go down to 3 cylinders at times when you are driving. The Passat did much better. So, I now have bad gas mileage guilt (as well as less money) so you are smart I think to hold back from the minivan purchase. By the way, we also test drove the Highlander hybrid which is an incredible car but very pricey (and no automatic doors)!
    I’m enjoying your blog!

  2. Linda Rimer says:

    Funny you should mention a grass roots movement to influence Detroit. Please see http://www.pluginpartners.org/. This is a grass roots effort to convince auto makers that there really is market out there for Plug In Hybrids. Hybrids (and we drive a Prius) are about twice as efficient as a non-hybrid. “Plug-in hybrids” are about twice as efficient as regular hybrids. The battery is larger than the ones currently in a Prius and you symply plug in into your regular outlet overnight. It isn’t a silver bullet but it is directionally correct and we need all the tools we can gather to stop global warming, wean ourselves off imported oil, and protect air quality. You can retrofit an existing hyrid today ($8-12,000) but it voids your warrenty. Plug-in Partners wants the car makers to produce the cars. YOu can sign on to their petition and look for other opportunities at their website.

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