Blog: Heather Carmona

Heather Carmona is Executive Director of the Woodward Avenue Action Association and a life-long Detroiter. She is also founder of Pure, an organic product consulting and consumer advocacy company. Heather will be writing about the interdependence and relationship between quality of life, sustainability and community.

Post 3: Can you still drive an SUV and be ‘green’?

We all have guilty pleasures and mine, unfortunately is my SUV. Although, my job requires me to lug stuff around and I like road trips, I don’t have a family of 10 or shop at Costco and buy 50 rolls of toilet paper, so technically I don't need the cargo space.

However, when faced with a new car purchase three years ago, I made my choice based on a lifestyle of safety and convenience while I’m one of those crazy people that still buys a car, then keeps it until the floor drops out. 

My concept of safety and convenience has changed dramatically the past three years. Since my SUV purchase it now translates into making more sustainable choices, and more importantly being conscious everyday of the products I buy and taking steps to eliminate, reduce or balance them with other actions. 

I recently had lunch with a city councilman in one of Woodward’s smaller communities. He’s fortunate to work mainly from home. I couldn’t help but laugh when shared a recent experience carrying a 40lb. bag of dog food home from a local pet store – on his scooter! Now that literally takes balance!  Now, he admitted he may not do it too frequently, but the point is he made a conscious effort. We discussed the unpopularity of driving an SUV these days, mentioning how it’s still more economical and responsible to drive an SUV a shorter distance, than a smaller vehicle a longer distance.

This personal evolution is part of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies businesses and corporations are clamoring to develop. Now, it’s not just good enough to support their local community and demonstrate sound corporate citizenship, but the name of the game is influencing and measuring employee behavior and buying habits and the impact on the greater good resulting in increased corporate culture and productivity. 

I find this concept fascinating but still trying to figure out who’s legit and producing measurable results or just jumping into the 'green' game for good PR.  

A recent article on mentioned the cynicism surrounding many CSR and green efforts citing whether or not small behavioral changes really make an impactful difference towards a more sustainable future.

I beg to differ. Many of the most important political and social changes of our time have come from one or a series of small actions resulting in a groundswell or major movement towards change. Maybe it’s just the idealist in me.

So, until I put a "for sale" sign on my SUV (or the floor falls out), I can continue down the path of conscious change. And, be thankful I live in one of the ‘most fuel efficient neighborhoods in metro Detroit’