Car manufacturing is a resource and energy hog! So much so that—this might come as a surprise—buying a used relatively efficient car can be better for the environment than buying a new car. According to the sustainability engineer Pablo Päster it takes 113 million BTUs to make a new Prius. Only after 46,000 miles (74,030 km) do the energy savings begin to catch up.
By opting to buy a previously owned vehicle, you avoid both the energy use and the resource consumption—not to mention the financial depreciation you get by just driving a new car off the lot. Keep an eye out for a used Prius when shopping; they're pretty high on the sliding scale of green cars.
Used cars aren’t what they used to be. Many now come with warranties that last several years and thousands of miles, particularly if you buy from a dealer. And there are so many ways to pre-shop online before you test drive.
If you're purchasing from a private party, keep in mind that while the original warranty will survive ownership change, you can't get an extended warranty from an individual.
Once you've made a purchase, give your new-to-you car a deep cleaning with natural cleaning products. And don't forget to make all accessories as green as possible. Look for PVC-free mats and skip the air freshener, which is actually an air polluter.