Another way my wife and I have become just a little greener recently is the switch to an HEV, or Hybrid Electric Vehicle. We would not have been able to survive the move to California had we not traded in our cars for an SUV, but I was pretty resistant to getting one for the following reasons:
After doing a ton of research (as I always do), I realized that a hybrid SUV might be exactly what we needed (my wife didn't care much either way). Unfortunately, they are usually $3k-6k more expensive than their gas guzzling-counterparts. The goal was to find one we could afford, which would not be terribly easy since they are relatively new to the market. We ended up getting extremely fortunate by finding a 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid which was mysteriously priced the same as an XLT. In fact, they mislabeled it as an XLT on a few websites. We were later informed that the dealer's wife miscategorized it while trying to find a reason to mark the price down to sell it. While that sure sounds like a typical dealer lie to sell the car, after owning it for several months and knowing it's not a lemon, I actually believe that story. This put it close enough to our price range, so we splurged a bit and got it. We are both extremely happy with it. The hybrid has an answer for each of my earlier beefs with SUVs:
In regards to the pollution/emissions matter, according to the calculator at Travel Matters, we have produced 2,896 lbs of potentially harmful emissions since we bought the Hybrid. The same mileage with my previous 2002 Saab 9-3 would have produced 3,748 lbs of emissions, and my wife's former 1995 Buick Regal would have produced 4,202 lbs.
Overall, HEVs are a great progression for the automobile industry. I personally wish all non-racing vehicles would switch to hybrids so the price could come back down and everyone could reduce their emissions without having to sacrifice.