Line One
Downshift
Turning green

By Bill Hudgins
columnist

 

Today, it seems you can get any color truck you want as long as it is green. Much of the buzz at MATS was about eco-friendly trucks, hybrid vehicles, trucks that run on LPG, LNG, alternative fuels and enough shades of green to make you turn – chartreuse.

From an industry built on songs like Red Simpson’s “Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves,” trucking is evolving into a business where tree hugging will no longer describe what happens if you run off the road and into the woods.

Just as the dot-com industry saw a wealth of businesses spring up called i-this and e-that, green and its various catchphrases are sprouting like winter wheat in Saskatchewan.

To help you decide what’s weed and what’s grass, here are some definitions for phrases you will be hearing in months to come:

Green: 1) Something that leaves the earth no worse off than you found it. 2) A marketing phrase whose meaning is extremely vague, but which justifies charging more “green” for the product or service.

Carbon footprint: Formerly, what your boot left if you had stuck it in some ash. Today, the amount of coal and oil products it takes to deliver products (often made of oil and other carbon substances) to people who denounce trucks as polluters and pine for the days of clean railroads.

Carbon neutral: Once a phrase used in the fashion industry (black and charcoal grey are considered neutral colors). Carbon neutral now means that you have somehow balanced out the carbon you use with something that doesn’t use carbon. A good example would be Georgia overdrive. Because your tranny is in neutral, the distance you make like this offsets some of the carbon you used getting to the top of the hill.

Alternative fuel: Diesel purchased in Mexico for half or less the price charged across the border in the U.S. Also, increasingly, the choice a driver makes between eating and getting three more gallons of diesel.

Hybrid: Used to include things like beefsteak tomatoes that were cross-bred for particular qualities, or pound puppies of uncertain origin that lacked the inbred frailties of pedigreed animals – a happy state called “hybrid vigor.” Today, it means a vehicle with two or more means of propulsion, thus quadrupling the chance of breakdown.

Reuse, recycle, repurpose: What our parents and grandparents did in the Depression, with everything from bits of garden hose to old coffee pots they shoved in a dark corner someplace, hoping they would magically heal. Today, this means buying a plastic insulated cup for your coffee (whose top you lose almost instantly, thus forcing you to buy another one, and so on.)

Sustainable, renewable: Able to replace and keep going, as in trucks lease-purchased from some companies, whose contracts contain fine-print clauses that allow the fleet to boot owner after owner for defaulting without ever replacing the truck. This is perhaps one of the slickest and greenest procedures in the entire industry.

Global warming: A theory that predicts the earth is getting hotter and colder at the same time, in different places, thanks to manmade causes such as auto exhaust, charcoal grills, lawnmowers and cow farts. (If we were all vegans, we wouldn’t need so many cows; thus, moo-thane is ultimately manmade, not bull scent. See?)

EcoGuilt: The nagging feeling that maybe we really are wasting our resources and should be more thoughtful about what we use and why. Guys – this is a great excuse for cutting down on Christmas gift shopping. Gals – this is a great excuse for telling your man to stay home and talk about the relationship instead of going fishing.

Until next time, be safe, make money and get home often. LL 

 

Bill Hudgins can be reached at billhudgins@earthlink.net.

Aug/Sept Digital Edition