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If you own a motor vehicle, it is very probably one of the things in your life that has the biggest impact on the environment (other major ones being: Your house and the energy it uses and your food choices).

So if you are planning to buy a new car, there are a few things you need to consider if you want to make the best choice for you and for nature. It's a two-step process:

The first step is to define your needs clearly and honestly. Don't let advertising, peer pressure, or inertia be your guide. Sit down and think about what you really need a car for, about what it will be used for on most days.

Keep things in perspective, and let exceptions be exceptions: If you tow a boat twice a year, do you really need a huge pickup truck on the other 362 days? If you only carry more than 4 passengers a few times a year, do you really need a 7-seater? You could both save money and reduce pollution by renting or borrowing 'special need' vehicles when you need them (which might end up be even less often than you would expect - many people tend to exaggerate their real needs even to themselves).

The second step is to look at what is available within your price range and try to match a car to your pre-established needs. It is important to do the two steps in orders, because if you shop for a car first and then try to define your needs, chances are that you'll unconsciously bend your needs to fit with whatever car you fancy at

the moment, something that you could later regret.

The technical details of what to look for are better left for another article.

Difficulty level: Easy