Even high efficiency vehicles can release nearly a pound of CO2 for every mile driven. And with fuel prices still rising, up a dollar and six cents from this time last year, we’re really starting to pay for our impact on the environment. Make a dent in your carbon output and keep some extra dough in your wallet by picking one day this week to leave the car in the garage all day. Rather than getting others to do your driving for you, skip the pizza and grocery deliveries as well. Instead, plan ahead and combine trips beforehand. Then on your day off, enjoy the weather and take the time for a pleasant bike ride or walk to explore the neighborhood.
There are now hybrids to match almost any need: two-door, four-door, SUV, luxury sedan. They get better mileage than their conventional counterparts, have cleaner emissions, and save money on gas. If a hybrid isn’t in your future, try for a car with the best MPG you can find; and remember that hybrids aren’t always the most efficient option, either. Biodiesel can now be found in almost any state in the US. This clean, domestic, veggie-based, carbon-neutral fuel will run in any diesel car or truck with little or no modification to the engine. Straight vegetable oil is an option for the more ambitious green driver and can make fueling up almost free. Another veggie fuel is ethanol, and there are between 5-6 million flex-fuel vehicles already on the road—you may even be driving one and not know it. Also, affordable, practical electric cars and plug-in hybrids aren’t too far off, either. But whether or not you drive a hybrid or alternative-fuel vehicle, there’s lots you can do to green your car right now.
Driving technique has a lot to do with your fuel economy. Avoid sudden starts and stops and go the speed limit. Not only does speeding and herky-jerky driving kill your MPG, it’s dangerous. And even if no one gets hurt in a fender bender, how green is it to get a new bumper or have your car re-painted? As a general rule of thumb, keep your engine speeds between 1,200—3,000 RPMs, and up-shift between 2,000—2500 RPMs. Also, drive wise and minimize unnecessary miles by doing errands in one trip, getting good directions, and calling ahead.
There are many services out there now that can help you calculate your yearly emissions from driving and offset those greenhouse gasses through various means. Check below for a few carbon offset opportunities
Of course! Find coworkers, neighbors, and fellow students headed the same direction. Start with one shared trip per week. Also look into car sharing programs like FlexCar and ZipCar.
For shorter adventures, walk, take public transit, ride your bike (regular, electric-assisted, or something fancier like a skateboard, rollerblades, or even look into an electric scooter. Carrying groceries or other bulky stuff can still be done on a bike with a backpack or some slick modifications.
Use the windows to help keep the car cool. Or try an electric or solar fan. Parking in the shade and using a reflective windshield shade can keep your car cooler when parked, meaning it takes less to cool it off when you get back in. If your car is new, however, let it air out. That new car smell is not friendly stuff.
Drive less with the wonders of working from home (or internet café, treehouse, Mojave desert, etc.) With instant messaging, video chat, teleconferencing, and other world-flattening technologies, making the rush-hour trek to work and back might not be that necessary. Ask your boss or offer your employees a day once a week. Hey, it works for 44 million Americans.
Not everyone is going to be able to do it, at least not cold carkey. It will probably entail a shift in thinking and some time, but living carfree might be more within reach than you think. Living closer to work and school is a big part of it. Walking, biking, public transport, car sharing, car borrowing, and teleconferencing are a strong arsenal of tools to help reduce the need for a car. Give it some thought