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Scott BennettAs published by the Brooklin Town Crier - May 7, 2010

by Scott Bennett

When I was a teenager taking Drivers' Ed., my instructor (Mr. White from Anderson C.V.I.) gave the class some advice. He told us that purchasing a car is the worst investment we would ever make because it does nothing but depreciate. Those wise words have stuck with me through the years, but I think that's starting to become untrue.

Quigley FamilyJessica Romani and Todd Quigley were in the market for a new car last year. Their existing car was on its last legs, so they started to shop around. Jessica is a high school teacher, who teaches science. As part of the curriculum, she covers conservation, which teaches the students how to reduce our impact on the environment. Because of the knowledge she has and the example she sets, she felt it was important to purchase a car that was better for the environment.

Jessica and Todd ended up purchasing a Honda Civic hybrid. They test drove a few conventional cars and several hybrid cars before settling on the Civic hybrid. Jessica feels they didn't have to sacrifice any features like size or comfort to get a hybrid car. In fact, they notice it's much quieter than other vehicles.

The Civic Hybrid is classified as a mild hybrid car. That means an electric motor helps the engine when it needs extra power, such as when accelerating or starting from a stop. The car also turns off the engine when stopped in traffic or at a stop light. This makes it much more fuel efficient when driven in the city. The batteries are charged by the energy recovered from the brakes, where traditionally this energy is wasted on wearing down brake pads. Jessica describes that there are dashboard features on their car that "show you when it's using battery power and when it's charging the battery from braking or decelerating."

Some people are discouraged looking at hybrid cars by the additional cost, but with government incentives, the price gap becomes much less. Considering that you'll save gas over the years, this ends up becoming a cost-neutral difference over the life of the car. The Honda Civic Hybrid won the ecoENERGY award from Natural Resources Canada for the most fuel efficient compact size vehicle in 2010.

One of the great things about choosing a green car is that it can make a large difference in reducing your carbon footprint in one step. "You make the decision once, and you don't have to think about it after that," describes Jessica. This is unlike trying to remember your reusable grocery bags, where you are changing a habit.

My teacher explained that purchasing a car is a poor investment, but 30 years later I feel that is changing. Purchasing a hybrid is a good "investment." It means we are creating fewer greenhouse gases and contributing less to climate change. It's investing in a brighter future for our children. I think it's great that the Quigley family has made this step to go green and show how each of us can make a difference. It's another green success story happening right here in Brooklin.

For more ideas on how to go green, see our green tips for transportation.