Thrift Week, Day 6 — Transportation

by Katy on January 22, 2009 · 9 comments


Thrift Week


Welcome to Thrift Week. Today’s topic is transportation.

There’s all kinds of conflicting information about green and thrifty transportation options. Biodiedel, hybrid, electric, even hypermiling. It’s enough to make you want to jump in front of a car, any car.

Whatever you drive, the greenest and thriftiest choice you can make is to leave your car in the garage. 

I started paying closer attention to my driving habits last year, and began putting a concerted effort into batching my errands. It’s now rare for me to drive across town to a single destination. (This is a rare situation where my natural proclivity to procrastinate is an asset.) I wait until I can no longer put off the errands, and by that point I usually have four or five things to do in that particular neighborhood.

By employing this method, I end up having three or four days per week when I don’t really drive. (Except driving my ten-year-old the 1.1 miles to school, which starts at 8:00 A.M., when it’s still a little dark. He takes a school bus home, but the morning bus comes at 7:30, which I feel is simply uncivilized. The 13-year-old takes the school bus both ways.)

I choose to live in a neighborhood which is very walkable, and this makes a huge difference in how much we drive. So even when we do drive, it’s for pretty short distances. When you choose to live rurally or in the suburbs, it is usually a decision that will require you to drive significant distances. Schools may be close, but what about the grocery store, post office, library and restaurants? Will your non-urban living choice mean you’ll be starting the car up multiple times every day? 

There is of course, the standard advice on how to squeeze every last bit of gas mileage from your car, such as:

  • Remove any unnecessary belongings from your car.
  • Keep the tires properly inflated.
  • Remove roof racks and bicycle racks when not needed.
  • Avoid rapid accelerating.
  • Use your cruise control.
  • Avoid idling your car.

Then there’s the advice to avoid driving such as:

  • Walk.
  • Bicycle.
  • Carpool.
  • Sell your car.

But really, the best way to drive green is to drive minimally. And this is true whether you’re driving a monster-truck or a hybrid.

My biggest gas saver? Because I live frugally, I only have to commute to work twice per week.

Want to know how walkable your neighborhood is? will give you a numeric score for your address. I got an “86,” which I feel is fair, although the neighborhood business information was somewhat out of date. (Plus it listed a porno joint as a movie theater within walking range. Umm . . . no thanks.)

What do you do to minimize gas usage? Please share your tips in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Tomorrow: Thrift Week — Day 7, Shopping and Gift Giving.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

mindfulmama January 23, 2009 at 4:55 am

Ooooh my walkscore is 69 – not so great considering my husband does not drive, and bikes/walks everywhere. And you know where I have trouble saving on gas? In this really cold climate of Massachusetts, the icy and snowy mornings make it hard to warm up the car without idling. But I do walk much more now to work, so I suppose I’m evening it out!
Thanks for your Thrift Week, Katy!


Maniacal Mommy January 23, 2009 at 6:46 am

I have been enjoying your blog immensely! I had to laugh at my Walkscore of 5. If my boys and I didn’t get hypothermia on the walk, we would most likely be used as speed bumps on our road. Fortuately once we get to town we can hit most stops by parking and walking around the square.

I do a lot of ride sharing with my grandma and cousin for grocery shopping, which is my major contribution for transportation. Five years ago we traded our Jeep for a Honda Civic, which was one of our wiser moves.

Our morning bus comes at 6:40, which I find to be brutal!


Sarah January 23, 2009 at 9:27 am

Boo, I got an 8 🙁


Marj January 23, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Since I live 25 miles from a store, I call a church member to see if she needs anything when I go to town. She does the same for me. Rural living is great except for this one thing.


tammy January 24, 2009 at 8:13 am

Nothing is within walking distance here. I’ve always run errands on Wednesdays – bank, post office, market, office supplies, thrift mart, etc. I live “off grid” and Wednesdays are a perfect day to take a little break from work and hop in my Betsy jeep and do what we need to do! I love Katy’s concept of “batching” errands!


Lucia J January 24, 2009 at 3:50 pm

My big money-saver, since I live in a very rural area, is to make one trip every two months to the large town nearby and get all my errands done at once. It takes forever to prepare, and to get them done, but I’m not running constantly.


Kellychell January 24, 2009 at 10:19 pm

I got a 55 walkscore. I recently started working part time. I save on transportation by “batching” my errands in to my work days. I’ve cut my cost of gas at least in half by not leaving home on my days off! I’m also working toward being a stay at home mom by working from home. The easiest way to save on gas is not to drive.


Lisa P January 28, 2009 at 11:48 am

Thanks, great link LOL. I got an 11 – but the best listing was the the suggestion of walking to a drive-in theater 10 miles away…something odd about that LOL


JustMe January 28, 2009 at 4:26 pm

89-Woot! I love not having to have a car and being able to walk to work. It’s a blessing.


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