Aren't electric vehicles the same or worse for the environment? This is a topic that has been debated, and will continue to be debated. Mazda made a claim in 2019 that long range electric vehicles generate more CO2 emissions over the lifetime of the vehicle than a comparable gas powered vehicle. They are not the first entity to make this claim, and they won't be the last. Manufacturing the vehicle can generate a lot of CO2 emissions, of course. Researching which vehicle manufacturers might use clean energy is a good way to avoid those emissions. More information will be provided on that topic when it's ready.
The International Council on Clean Transportation published a study in 2018 which claims that an electric car using average European electricity is actually 30% cleaner over its lifetime than a comparable gas powered vehicle.
One thing that's clear, how clean your electric vehicle really is depends largely on where the power comes from, both during manufacturing and operating the vehicle. And if you're wondering about the toxic chemicals left behind at the end of life, keep reading below.
I can't afford an electric vehicle, or I'm unable to find one that fits my needs or wants. This is a valid point. Electric vehicles are often significantly more expensive and the options, while growing, are currently limited. However, there are a number of things you can do right now to reduce the commissions your vehicle emits. Here are some ideas:
What about all the batteries from electric vehicles that are no longer in use? Great question. This does cause concern, however some people are making steps in the right direction. For example, BigBattery is helping to re-use and recycle the materials from thousands of batteries every month, and the company is growing. Gizmodo published a good article about this on December 19, 2019. There is also promising news for solid state batteries, which do not contain toxic chemicals, do not overheat, and do not catch fire. They also have a higher capacity than lithium ion batteries.
* It is important to note that an electric vehicle on its own is not necessarily emission free. In many cases, you're simply moving the emissions from your vehicle to your power plant. According to a study from November 2017 by the University of Michigan, the fuel-economy-equivalent averages 55.4 MPG in the United States, and varies greatly by country. Because of this, check out what clean renewable energy options you have available to you. These may be systems you add at home, or programs through your power provider that you can take a part of, such as Rocky Mountain Power's Blue Sky program.
Your local power company may have programs that you can take advantage of to support clean, renewable energy, such as Rocky Mountain Power's Blue Sky program. It depends on your location and may require a bit of research, but it's worth looking into. If you own your home, you may be able to add other energy sources, such as solar panels. These actions not only reduce your overall carbon footprint but will result in cleaner air for your city, and supporting these programs will encourage more companies to provide options in the future.
Refuse plastic straws when going out to eat, at the gas station, etc. If you feel like you must use a straw, try purchasing a metal or silicone straw and bring it with you. There are many options for collapsible straws that come with a case that is small enough to fit in a purse or on a keychain.
There are many options for tote bags and reusable grocery bags, as well as mesh produce bags. BeeGreen has some good reusable bags on Amazon that fold up into a small pouch which makes them more convenient. Brotrade has some reusable mesh produce bags on Amazon.
When shopping at the store (typically applies to grocery stores, but could be applicable elsewhere), choose products packaged in glass, aluminum, or even paper over plastic. Glass and aluminum are the best options as these products can be recycled over and over again. If you pay attention, you may notice that a lot of products have many different brands with many different types of packaging.
There are so many opportunities to be less wasteful by reusing products. Many things may only require a simple change to your habits. Here are some of the ways we've found to work, but if you pay attention to what you throw into the garbage or recycling bin, you will notice more things that work for you.
Do you like going to the movies and getting popcorn? You can bring a souvenir bucket and cup and use that instead of a bucket and cup that will go in the trash. Some theaters will even give you a discount and charge you only for a refill or a smaller size. Make sure to bring your straw too if you want to use a straw!