You are how much you drive

We get lots of helpful suggestions here at TerraPass world headquarters. One call last week came from a TerraPass member we’ll call Steve.

Steve said, “You guys have got to rename your membership levels. I have an Audi S4 that I only drive 3,000 miles a year. I feel like a fool with a ‘Hybrid’ TerraPass on the window.”

Tired from the day’s envelope stuffing, we challenged Steve:

“So you drive a rocket to go get milk every now and then?”

Which predictably put him on the defensive about his choice of car:

“It’s my one guilty pleasure. I have an extremely efficient home heating and lighting system. I am very environmentally aware. But I do really like this car — even though I cringe when I see the real time MPG meter.”

Steve shouldn’t feel guilty. Or at least, no guiltier than the rest of us. Lazily, we tend to characterize people by what they drive — a gas guzzler, a sports car, a VW bus, a Hummer — and we ignore the equally important issue of how much they drive.

One of the benefits of TerraPass is that we get right to the root issue of car pollution, and we start by quantifying your impact. Calculating your CO2 pollution puts your behavior in perspective and removes emotional labels from your choice of car. That calculation is a function of both the car you drive and the number of miles you cover.

Sometimes the calculation yields surprising results. We have even sold a few Utility passes to Toyota Prius owners. They are driving more than 35,000 mile a year to qualify for that special offer!

Buying a TerraPass is a public act. It takes some gumption to demonstrate both that you know you pollute and that you have done something about it. While Steve may not like the labels we have chosen for our products, we hope that he can use the apparent mislabeling to tell people that he has structured his life so that he drives as little as possible.

Congratulations, Steve, on finding a way to fit in your guilty pleasure and still qualify for the lowest level of TerraPass.

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tom