How To Cut Your Gasoline Costs
The best way to manage the increasing cost of gas, in an age when the demand for gas is clearly beginning to outstrip the supply, is to use less of it.
By Jason Allen
Published May 16, 2011
As gas prices shoot through the stratosphere in a highly predictable pattern of price increases, followed by demand destruction, followed by price increases, the number of ‘how to save on gas’ articles online and in the newspapers has gone almost as high as the price at the pumps.
I would be remiss in my duties as a blogger, if I did not offer my three, fool-proof, iron-clad-guaranteed ways to reduce your weekly gasoline bill:
1. Ride your bike more.
2. Walk more.
3. Take public transit more.
Which leads me to a fabulous series of posts by John Michael Greer
, who for the last four weeks has been systematically dismantling the credibility of the environmental/peak oil movement, and laying the blame for the mess we are in squarely at the feet of those who deserve it the most: Us.
In the end, he insists, there is simply going to be no form of energy that will be cheap, easy, and accessible enough to allow us as a society to go on consuming what we do now.
The only choice is to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and all that they provide. He calls it ‘making do with L.E.S.S.’ – Less Energy, Stuff, and Stimulation.James Howard Kunstler
likes to say that “suburbia is an arrangement without a future.” If Greer is anywhere close to hitting the mark (and his posts – as are those of most writers in the Peak Oil blogosphere – are getting increasingly dark recently) it’s not just suburbia that’s unsustainable, but much of the way of life we take for granted.
So what’s a city to do?
How do we go about using L.E.S.S. as a city, as communities, and at the basic level of hardiness, as households.
Unfortunately, for many of us, we won’t have a choice. The price of gas is getting dangerously close to triggering another round of layoffs and downsizing, assuming you’ve found a job after the last round. My bellweather – the Phones, PDAs, Ipods
section on Kijiji is displaying its telltale sign of economic hardship: A steep rise in the number of people pleading with strangers to take over the ball-and-chain cell phone plans they signed up for when times were better.
And for those of us who are still gainfully employed for the time being?
Well, regular readers will know that I just moved
about 8 blocks from Strathcona to Kirkendall. In the process, we lost about 2/3s of the built in storage that we very much took for granted in our old house.
Our first stop? Ikea of course, which set off a small binge of consumption, where for me the simplest solution to every problem was to go out and buy what I needed to fix it.
Fortunately, my wife brought me up short last weekend, when she proposed a very simple workaround for a problem that I had thought was only fixable at Canadian Tire. I had been so caught up in the ease, the speed, and frankly the dopamine hit of the constant trips to the store, that I had lost sight of the much better ways of handling these very manageable situations.
Since then, we have resumed our pledge to only buy large items second hand or locally made, and have set about figuring out workarounds to the numerous challenges presented by moving in to a new home with a much different configuration than you are used to.
I guess my point is, that even for those of us who are committed to consuming less, and making do with less, and growing our own food, and taking public transit and so on; it is embarrassingly easy to get caught up in the consumer solution.
To paraphrase one of my favourite sayings, if your only tool is a debit card, eventually every problem starts to look like a big-box store.
In the end, the conscious choices we make every day make a huge difference in reducing our dependence on a steady supply of oil, food, injection molded plastic and particle board from far away.
But it’s the unconscious
choices we make – the spending without thinking – that are going to be the things stand the most risk of sinking us in the end. And it’s the dependence on this unconscious spending-as-solution that will cause us the most psychological grief should our main identity in society – that of consumer – suddenly become lost to us as a lifestyle option.
To bring it all back to my original point, the best way to manage the increasing cost of gas, in an age when the demand for gas is clearly beginning to outstrip the supply, is to use less of it. Use less of it to drive, less of it to transport your food to where you buy it from, use less of it to transport your iPad from China, and less of it to manufacture the plastic and particle board solutions that we so very easily take for granted.
Use less of it by participating less in the global throw-away economy, and more in the locally sourced, or re-use economy, keeping more of the money here in town, spread out among people and businesses you may well need to rely on heavily before too long.
If we voluntarily simplify our lives now, then should the price of gas cause a major economic disruption in the near future (I’m thinking by Thanksgiving at the latest), the combination of reducing our ‘needs’ and strengthening the local economy will mean that the impact to our households, communities, and city will be far easier to bear.
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