a boots-on-the-ground view of the change that's a-foot

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

I’ve had to rent a car twice in the last year and was frustrated and disappointed that I could not find hybrid rentals. Although it feels somewhat “better late than never”, it appears the car rental industry is beginning to get it’s green act together, at least in the bigger cities.

An article from the LA Times filled me in and it’s sounding good. Enterprise, National, Alamo, Avis and Budget are all stocking their fleets with hybrid vehicles, starting with the large, highly traveled cities. Simply Hybrid, based in LA, rents only hybrids and offers free delivery and pickup in some LA locations with a 3-day minimum rental. Enterprise has also started WeCar, a car-sharing service in St. Louis, MO.

Even bigger news – because it can reach travelers in all 50 states – comes from Enterprise, National and Alamo, who are offering carbon emission offsets through Terrapass. (I’ve been using TerraPass for a couple years now – here’s my previous posts about it.) The offset project includes the purchase of clean energy from wind farms, farm animal waste; or capturing methane from landfills. Using one of these rental companies, you can offset your driving emissions during travel with only $1.25 per rental.

This is encouraging news in the world of driving, but keep in mind, we have to be willing to choose these alternatives being offered, whether it’s hybrid cars, organic food or low-flow toilets. In many cases, this will mean extra cost upfront. Still, I’m asking you – do it anyway – and then support a friend in the same choice. In doing so, you are supporting a larger community focused on helping each other – something proven to make us happier. Keeping perspective and looking long-term will quickly reveal what we eventually save and what we will gain. And it’s more then dollars.

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