Farmers, teachers, car buffs: The unexpected faces of the electric car revolution


Written by:

 As electric vehicles get cheaper and car-makers introduce more options, EVs are gaining traction with all types of people — not just elite eco-warriors. 

From a car buff on his fourth EV to a Tesla-driving farmer, we talked to three drivers who went electric and haven’t looked back.

“I drove my electric F150 6,000 miles last month and it didn’t cost me anything.”

Name: Adrian Padilla
Occupation: Former U.S. Navy
Location: San Diego, CA

EVs: Ford F150 Lightning Lariat and Chevrolet Bolt

In 2021, Adrian Padilla was 22 and had just been medically retired from the U.S. military. 

Unsure what to do next, he embarked on a two-month road trip across the United States. 

“I had a Tesla Model 3 at the time, and I drove it around the entire perimeter of the country,” he says. “That always blows people away — the fact that I could take that long of a trip in an EV and have no problems except for a flat tire.” 

While cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway, Padilla decided to settle in California and is now studying real estate. A car enthusiast, he’s since sold the Tesla and now owns a gas-powered Chevy Tahoe along with two EVs — a Chevy Bolt and a Ford F150 Lightning.

“I like fast, fun cars, and EVs tend to be peppy and fun to drive,” he says. “But I got the Bolt because I didn’t want to pay $350 per month in gas driving my Tahoe around California.” 

Because the Bolt is a bit small for his 6’2’’ frame, he recently purchased a Ford F150 Lightning Lariat EV, and will likely sell the Bolt.

What he loves: “I drove my electric F150 6,000 miles last month and it didn’t cost me anything in electricity because my house runs on solar, and I charge it at home,” Padilla says, adding that he’s driving more than usual because he’s shadowing a real estate agent right now to learn the business. 

“I know there’s a stigma on the price of electric trucks,” he says. “But in my old gas-powered Silverado — which got about 16 miles per gallon — driving 6,000 miles would have cost me more than $1,500 in gas.” 

Given that his electric F150 was comparable in price to his former gas-powered Silverado, Padilla finds the electric truck to be a better deal. “I honestly don’t drive an EV for the environmental benefits — though I appreciate those benefits. I drive it to save money on gas and maintenance.”

What he wishes more people knew about EVs: “People get caught up on this question of ‘But could I take a long road trip in an EV?'” he says. “But I drive my electric truck about 220 miles per day and I do not need to publicly charge. In fact, I don’t know of anyone who needs more than 250 miles in range for most of their driving.”

“I just love leaving those gas-guzzlers in the dust.”

Name: Joan Hollins
Occupation: Retired teacher
Location: Rural Colorado
EV: Hyundai Kona Electric

Former middle school teacher Joan Hollins purchased an all-electric Hyundai Kona in 2022. It’s the 62-year-old’s first electric vehicle.

Why the Hyundai Kona? “I’d been thinking about buying an EV, but was worried about their range since I live in a rural part of Colorado with few charging stations. Then I met another older woman with a Hyundai Kona EV. She told me she was driving it from California to Maine! We chatted for a while, and I saw her confidence and excitement — and I just thought, ‘That’s what I want to do.’” Plus, Hollins says that the Kona was similar in size to the Honda CR-V she was used to, so she knew it would fit her lifestyle. 

What she loves: “It’s the zippiest, most fun car I’ve ever driven,” says Hollins, adding that her grandchildren love riding in it — especially when she hits the accelerator. “I just love leaving those gas-guzzlers in the dust!” Hollins also enjoys not having to buy gas and having less maintenance. “There are no more oil changes,” she says.

What’s been an adjustment: “I mostly charge at home, but living in a rural area, I have to make sure that there are charging stations when and where I’ll need them,” she says. “But I can drive 250 miles on one charge, which is more than enough for how I typically use the car.” 

When traveling longer distances, Hollins uses Google Maps to find charging stations. “It just requires planning ahead,” she says. While she did have to wait several hours to charge once (at a slow-speed charging station), she’s never been stranded. 

What it cost: Hollins and her husband received $15,000 for two old cars they traded-in plus $10,000 in state and federal tax credits making their total out-of-pocket cost $15,000. ​​​​

“The Tesla has replaced our pick-up truck on the farm.”

Name: Robert McKeon
Occupation: Farmer
Location: Red Hook, NY
EV: Tesla Model Y

When he’s not running his farm, Robert McKeon runs his town. He was elected town supervisor of Red Hook, NY, in 2016, which means that in addition to being a full-time livestock farmer, he also handles the operations of his municipality. 

It was that role which inspired him to purchase an electric car. 

“I had applied for a federal grant to install charging infrastructure in our town, and I thought I should practice what I preach,” he says. After several years of driving plug-in hybrids, he recently went fully electric with the purchase of a Tesla Y.

Why a Tesla Y: “The Y is useful for its cargo space when I go to buy grain or other items for the farm,” McKeon says, adding that he uses the car to move feed, bedding and supplies. “Believe it or not, the Tesla has replaced our pick-up truck for almost everything on the farm except transporting animals.” (Though in a pinch he can use it to carry a few goats!) 

Why he thinks EVs make sense for farmers: Most farmers don’t drive long distances, McKeon says, so an EV is a great option for getting around, moving supplies or going out to make repairs.

“I was inclined to go electric because of the environmental benefits,” he says. “We practice regenerative farming, and our cattle roam the property. They are all grass-fed, no grain. That means there are less emissions, and less methane is generated.” 

What he’s learned: While he likes the Y, McKeon says the next vehicle he buys for the farm will be an electric pick-up truck for the towing capacity. 

“Red Hook acquired an electric Ford F150 EV a few months ago, and I’ve been surprised at how well it performs,” he says. “I’m especially impressed with its bidirectional charging feature. If we were to have a power outage at a municipal building, we can use the truck as a generator.” 

That’s something McKeon says he’d find useful on his farm too — he’s  just waiting for a truck with a longer range to come out.

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

Are you making climate change worse?

Are you making climate change worse?

Climate change is a real threat — but it’s one you can help combat. By understanding how big companies and common household items impact the environment, you can make more informed and sustainable choices in the products you use and companies you support.

Nastco / istockphoto

Despite promises to align banking and lending practices with the Paris Agreement — an international treaty on climate change — top 35 global investment banks have largely failed.

Banks including JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Bank of America contributed over $150 billion each to fossil fuel companies since 2016, according to the Rainforest Action Network’s Banking on Climate Change Fossil Fuel Finance Report 2020. Combined with 31 others, these banks funneled a combined total of nearly $2.7 trillion into fossil fuels in just four short years.

Not only is the fossil fuel industry pushing global warming to dangerous levels, but it’s also contributing to devastating water and air pollution. And it’s not just our environment that pays for it. Significant health problems are a direct result of climate change, including heart disease, lung cancer, respiratory failure and strokes.

Green alternative: Open an account with a smaller, ethical neobank

Neobanks are online-only fintech companies that offer benefits like minimal fees, competitive interest rates and less waste production since there aren’t any physical branches.

For example, neobank Aspiration is up front about its policies on working with fossil fuel companies and has green practices that back your banking habits. It plants trees with every swipe of your debit card and offers carbon offsets to help reduce your contribution to climate change.

When you compare environmentally friendly neobanks, do your due diligence and check its owners. Although some fintechs purport sustainable environmental policies, you should work with a company that is transparent about where its money and investments go.

Look into where the electricity for your home comes from. Many parts of the country rely on fossil fuels to power their cities — though some make use of clean energy sources. Wasting energy by not turning off the lights or running the AC with the windows open can contribute to higher greenhouse gas emissions.

Likewise, driving a car that isn’t fuel efficient also increases your impact on the environment. But even electric and hybrid car owners should be aware of where their power comes from. If your city mainly uses coal or natural gas for electricity, then you won’t be cutting fossil fuel emissions as much as you think.

Green alternative: Use more energy-efficient products

While you don’t have to go all out and refit your home with energy-efficient appliances and products all at once, making the switch when you do need to replace your dishwasher, water heater or other big appliances will add up. Check for an Energy Star Label and compare a wide range of options before settling. Not only will you help the environment, but you’ll also save money in the long run by buying more energy-efficient options.

In the meantime, stay mindful. Check your electric company’s peak hours. Running your dishwasher or washing machine at non-peak times will save you money and reduce the pressure on your area’s infrastructure.

Limiting your use of the dryer — air-drying your clothes reduces your energy consumption and helps keep your clothes intact longer — and your HVAC system will also decrease your individual impact on the environment.

gyro/ istockphoto

It’s old news that cattle and factory farms are bad for the environment. Not only do cows produce methane — a major greenhouse gas — but their water and food consumption is staggering. And in quite a few parts of the world, forests are removed to make way for pastures, which further compounds the harm they do to the environment. Other animals have their own impacts, but by far, unsustainable red meat production is a major contributor to climate change.

Green alternative: Go local and plant-based

Shopping for in-season, local produce — and actually eating it — is an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint. This doesn’t necessarily mean going vegetarian or vegan. Rather, try to incorporate more vegetables and legumes into your diet. Opting for poultry or fish instead of red meat is another more sustainable option. Freeze what you don’t use, eat your leftovers and compost when you’re able.

If you continue to eat meat, cut down on your portions and continue to add more plants to your diet. You should also reach out to local farmers and butchers. Supporting local, animal-based businesses reduces the toll of factory farming on the environment and help increase demand for farms in your area.

But don’t assume going plant-based is without consequences. Monoculture — when farms and plantations produce only one crop — can damage an ecosystem’s biodiversity, especially when crops replace natural forests. Almonds and palm oil trees are major contributors to water consumption and deforestation. Always check the labels of the foods you buy and do your part in researching how the staples in your diet affect the environment.


Beauty products are often packaged in hard plastic with mixed ingredients — making them nearly impossible to recycle. And the chemicals found in many beauty products, as well as the water and palm oil used in the manufacturing process, all play a role in making most beauty products extremely unsustainable. So unless you’re willing to DIY all of the products in your beauty routine, you need to research how your products are made to understand the full scope of their impact on the environment.

Green alternative: Support businesses with environmentally friendly practices

As with most advice, there is a reason the first word in the green mantra is reduce: The less you consume, the less demand there is for products. Cut back on your makeup and beauty routine where possible to avoid producing excess waste. This is generally the most sustainable option, but if you can’t, investing in products with eco-friendly ingredients is a positive change you can make to your routine.

But keep in mind that many common terms like natural and green don’t have set definitions. Any company can claim its products are environmentally friendly — and many do. Always consult the list of ingredients and look into how products are produced to be sure you’re buying from a truthful and transparent company.

Pay attention to packaging as well. A natural or eco-friendly product packaged in plastic — or even plastic-coated cardboard — is still contributing to climate change. There are some mascara brands, for instance, that come in bamboo tubes and are refillable. Metal and glass containers are also more sustainable, so look for products with this type of packaging when you can.

The convenience of a paper towel, cleaning wipe or plastic straw may be hard to beat — but we all know how much our trash contributes to climate change and the destruction of natural environments. Not only are reusable items more cost effective, they are a simple way to reduce your overall waste.

Green alternative: Invest in reusable products

Although it can be tempting and easy to buy single-use products, don’t fall into this trap. For every disposable product you buy, there’s a reusable product that saves you money and helps you reduce your total waste. And for real savings, you can visit bulk and no-waste stores that allow you to fill up your own containers with shelf-stable foods and other products like soap and shampoo.

Reusable grocery bags, water bottles and coffee mugs are simple switches for everyday use. Using a metal safety razor with a replaceable blade may be intimidating at first, but it cuts down on the plastic used to make the razor and the packaging it comes in.

If you buy single-use cleaning supplies, consider an all-purpose cleaner and rags instead. It may still use energy to wash your rags after a spill, but throwing away paper towels has a much more damaging effect on the environment. And like other daily reusable products, you’ll spend less by cutting up an old shirt and buying a cleaning concentrate than new bottles and paper products every few weeks.

It should come as no surprise that physical mail contributes to climate change. Even if you recycle everything mailed to you when possible, the paper manufacturing process and the fossil fuels used to deliver the mail to you have an impact on the environment. And while using your computer or phone does have a small carbon footprint, it’s minimal when compared to the waste produced by physical mail.

Green alternative: Go paperless

The quickest way to reduce your physical mail is to go paperless. Most banks and fintech companies offer a paperless billing system that sends transaction receipts and account updates to your email. Using your bank’s app to complete transactions — rather than writing physical checks or using cash — also helps reduce the amount of paper waste you create.

If you receive a high volume of unsolicited mail, you can add yourself to the Federal Trade Commission’s national opt-out list or reach out to each company directly. Unsubscribe from coupons and physical store newsletters and receive them as an email instead. Reject a physical receipt when you shop and opt for digital instead. Going paperless where you can has a monumental impact on how you contribute to climate change.

As helpful as it is to pay attention to your own waste production and contribution to climate change, this isn’t an individual issue. Large corporations are responsible for their impacts — and many largely go unchecked. It may be small, but working with an environmentally friendly neobank will literally help you put your money behind the issues that matter most to you.

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

Featured Image Credit: SimonSkafar/istockphoto.