Make fuel efficiency a priority when you rent

Has this ever happened to you?  You show up at a car rental counter and learn that the model you booked isn’t available – so you’re offered a larger model instead.  They call it a ‘free upgrade’.

Alas, in the car rental business, such ‘free upgrades’ may mean bigger vehicles with more space, but they also mean worse fuel efficiency – and that’s an added cost to both the renter and our environment.

So the next time that happens, why not ask instead for a vehicle that’s more fuel-efficient instead of less – let’s call it an ‘eco-upgrade’?  (And if you happen to get an incredulous look, maybe it’s a great opportunity for a gentle educational moment on the importance of fuel efficiency in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.)

(True story: the above scenario happened on our family’s vacation last summer, and, after asking, we ended up with a Ford Fusion hybrid: luxurious, roomy and very fuel efficient!)

The downside of home delivered meal kits

Perhaps you’ve noticed a recent trend in food marketing: home-delivered meal kits.

The concept is simple: you go to a website, browse a menu, pick a gourmet meal for your family, order and voila: a box shows up at your door days later with all the ingredients you need to prepare that meal: the main course, veggies, sauces, spices and more.  All you need to do is open the box and follow the preparation instructions.  What could be simpler for today’s busy consumer?  No wonder home-delivered meal kits are now offered by dozens of companies via the internet.

But before you sign up, consider:

  • Meal kits come with a lot of packaging. They’re usually shipped in insulated boxes (which may not be recyclable), often with ice packs to keep things cold in transit.  Ingredients inside the box are usually further packaged as well.
  • Many meal kits originate quite far away, so they have a significant transportation footprint (including that delivery van to your door)
  • If a meal kit you choose is coming from afar, you can be pretty certain there’s nothing local inside it

So instead of succumbing to the allure (and expense!) of a meal-in-a-box, why not just shop your local farmers market, co-op or food store – for lightly-packaged local food with a small transportation footprint?