Friday, December 3, 2010

Review: Rationing is a Gas! Gas! Gas!

One of the first posts about the rationing year project concerned gasoline and mileage rationing. In it, we described how gasoline was rationed during WWII and the issues we were wrestling with in trying to come to some sort of modern equivalent. In the end, we came up with a self-imposed mileage ration of 193 miles per week combined for our two vehicles.'s it been? Well, once we project out an average weekly mileage for the last few weeks of rationing (plus the mileage for a holiday round trip visit to Wichita) and add it to our already documented mileage we will have traveled (in our personal vehicles) roughly 10,007 miles during the rationing year, which is just slightly under the total miles of 10,036 allotted to us during rationing (193 miles per week x 52 weeks).

We're all pretty happy that we stayed within our limit and didn't fall into the trap of going farther (literally) even though we knew there wouldn't be any real consequences for us if we did go over our rationed amount.

In order to stay within our ration we definitely had to be mindful about how and when we were driving. We became pros at combining/consolidating trips and had to be extra careful with miles when the girls had out-of-town swim meets every other week during the summer. Our "vacations" consisted of two short getaways to Kansas City and one trip to Wichita to see family. Our mileage allowance did not permit a more grand vacation even if we incorporated some carpooling and I occasionally walked to work.

And to be honest, we were all feeling the lack of big getaway by the time autumn arrived.
As a family we have to decide how we will handle mileage after rationing is over. All of us agreed that we didn't want to remove mileage off the radar completely, especially once we reviewed the math.

During the rationing year our 10,000 miles were considerably below the national average; the average adult American drives 12,000 miles per year, which means the average for a two-driver household like ours is 24,000 miles per year. By following our rationing limits we drove 14,000 miles less than a comparable family.

Fourteen thousand less miles means fewer gallons of gasoline (and more money in our pocket). Using a very modest estimate of 20 miles per gallon, 14,000 miles equates to 700 less gallons of gasoline. Each gallon of gasoline creates 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, so by travelling 14,000 miles (or 700 gallons of gasoline) less than the average two-driver household we avoided dumping 14,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into the air.

That's seven tons, or the equivalent of 1,400 10lb bags of potatoes, or roughly four mini-vans! After that kind of a realization, we can't just abandon mileage/gasoline rationing completely.

So we've decided to keep tracking our mileage but give our family a slightly higher allowance so that more frequent weekend trips and a decent vacation (likely to involve driving) can be incorporated. We are also aware that we will likely be using more miles next year for basic errands (more on that development in a later post). Taking all these things into consideration we have decided that our new, post-rationing family limit for mileage will be 15,000 miles combined for the year. This gives use a weekly allowance of 288 miles - nearly 100 miles more per week than during rationing! The trick will be to not squander those miles but to save them up for the fun stuff.

Pondering all those extra miles and the possibilities seems like a luxury. Where will we go first?

--Rational Mama

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