How We Are Trying to Keep Our Minivan Green

One of the things we needed with the coming of the new baby is a minivan, which we bought a bit over a week ago. It’s an idea I resisted, as we’ve done so well as a one car family. But babies have more doctor appointments and our one car was a 4 seater. Not exactly adequate for a family of 5.

I kept aiming for a larger sedan, rather than a minivan. Better gas mileage as a general rule. But I didn’t win that debate, and a minivan is what we now have. A 2002 Mazda MPV, to be specific.

I have to admit, it is comfortable for all of us.

Our goal, however, is to only use it when we need to do something with the kids along. We aren’t buying extra car seats just to be able to switch back and forth by the number of people. That would be a waste.

Instead, the old car is the commuter/errands without kids car.

This allows us to take advantage of the better mileage of the old car. I built the habit quickly of running errands only when my husband is home, and I want to keep that habit so that I can just go in the car rather than the minivan. It just makes sense to me to be efficient.

Another key point is how long we keep it. I have always had a habit of driving a car until it costs more than I’m willing to pay in repairs. Generally someone else is willing to go further with it. I’m just not the sort to replace a vehicle every few years. That’s not a green decision in most cases, no matter how good a newer vehicle feels.

Some of the lacks I like. No DVD player installed, although it could have one. I’ve always felt that if you must have one, a portable one makes more sense than one stuck in the car. That said, we don’t have a portable DVD player either. I can think of other ways for the kids to keep themselves busy on the kinds of  (rare) trips we take as a family.

No power doors or power seats. That makes things harder for the kids, but I don’t mind needing to open the doors for them. The kids will be able to cope with those when they’re older. And I think I can adjust my own seat.

Overall, I think we can do well by keeping our usage sensible. No overplanning activities for the kids. No driving just to drive. Thinking about which car we use.

It’s not as green as a hybrid or low emissions car, but it will do. Especially on our budget.