alison griffiths articles
Alison's Money Rule
Consumer power of one
Posted May 2, 2012
Originally Published April 24, 2012
You have tremendous power as a consumer when you use spending as leverage.
Gasoline prices recently hit $4.93 a gallon for regular in Los Angeles and the average price for regular gas in the US was $3.88 on April 20. But, while Republicans are trying to pin it on President Obama, something amazing is occurring; American consumers are taking action. Through a combination of driving less and purchasing more fuel-efficient cars, they’re using dramatically less gas.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, as of January 1st the total vehicle miles driven was lower than any year since 2004. On top of that, the average fuel efficiency of cars and SUVs reached 29.6 miles per gallon (US), that’s up 4 miles per gallon since 2007. As a result, not including the latest gas spike, gasoline consumption in the US is down 6 percent since 2007.
The mini-revolution taking place south of the border reminds us that though we often feel impotent as consumers we do have the power to effect change. Here are 3 ways I’m going to make my consumer voice heard.
- Say no to non-recyclable plastic containers.
It drives me nuts that my favourite organic yogurt comes in a non-recyclable container. The company is negating the organic good by using the wrong type of packaging. I will stop buying that brand and write a letter to the company to tell them why. From my experience, smart businesses pay close attention to each missive.
- Cut my gas consumption.
I already own a 5-year-old Camry hybrid and I just replaced my 10-year-old farm truck, a Toyota Tundra, with a Ford 150 equipped with the Eco boost 6 cylinder engine. It tows better than the 8 cylinder and gets almost twice the gas mileage.
Even so, I think I can conserve even more by cutting down on unnecessary trips, doing a longer list of errands each time out and by easing up on my pedal-to-the-metal tendency (my husband will be so pleased.)
- Deep six the phone companies.
I’m heartily sick of expensive phone service, the arcane complexity of the packages, numerous billing mistakes, and interminable waiting in telephone queues to get service.
I intend to investigate alternatives such as Vonage, Skype, Convergia and MagicJack and perhaps move to a text only cell phone package. If you have made the switch, let me know.
Side Bar: On average, Canadian gas prices are 25 % higher than in the U.S.
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