Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Jennifer Sunde
Driving is not just a means of transportation, but it is also a part of our culture. Cars represent social status, finances, family sizes, extracurricular activities and more. The use of cars is a part of life that is not going to cease. The troubling fact is that CO2 related emissions can no longer be ignored. There are more than 250 million cars regularly operated within the United States alone. In total, these cars make 365 billion trips with a combined mileage of 2.3 trillion miles per year. These numbers are hard on the planet and there is no denying it. The time has come to go green and it doesn’t matter what your income is, there are ways for each of us to make improvements. Being a green driver without having to buy a new hybrid or electric car is easy. All you need is some creativity and a minor commitment to the greater cause.
If we could find a way to functionally give up driving all together, the world would be far better off. But this is not a realistic option for most Americans. Start instead with a few simple steps towards greener transportation.
Step One: Being smooth on the road means being smooth on the environment. Smoother driving with less time spent on the gas or brakes equates to less carbon emissions. How is this so? One second of flooring it can make the same CO2 emissions as a full thirty minutes of travel. It takes a lot of energy to get the engine to go, thus smoother transitions will reduce emissions.
Likewise, nine minutes of idling is double the pollutants of turning the car off and then on again. Despite what the myths say, you will not waste gas by restarting your engine. Try to avoid rush hour traffic, but if you do wind up in a traffic stand-still, be sure to turn your engine off if you are stuck for more than 30 seconds.
Regular service helps a lot too. This means regular oil and air filter changes, and keeping the tires inflated. Slightly deflated tires reduce miles per gallon, meaning that you need more fuel to go the same distance. Simple updates like these will keep you on a green commuter track.
Step Two: Try to work from home if you can. A great way to start is by informing your boss about the benefits; working from home boosts morale, profits, and the eco-friendliness of the company. This small change could potentially save 2 billion gallons of gasoline per year. Telecommuting one day a week could cut CO2 emissions by as much as 400 pounds per year.
Get flexed with work. If you can’t telecommute maybe you can ask to have a schedule that is outside of peak hours. This way you avoid rush hour traffic and all the carbon-filled standstills that so often go along with it.
You can always use mass transit or your body. Alternate transportation a few days a week has some great benefits. This could mean biking, busing, scootering, or walking. This will both reduce CO2 emissions and save you some money on gas.
Step Three: Take the big step when the time comes. When your old vehicle dies, upgrade to an eco-friendly vehicle. This may cost more upfront, but you will save more on gas over time and may even save on car insurance- many car insurance companies are going green by offering discounts to drivers with electric or hybrid cars. Save money, save the planet, and feel good about your commute. In the end, you really just help yourself when you help the planet.
About the author: Jenni Sunde is a freelance fashion writer and pop culture junkie. Jenni specializes in all things lifestyle-related. From home and design to health and beauty. With her love of art and all things beautiful, she delights in sharing her sense of style from her life to your computer monitor. Her title pegs her as an editor at a website that specializes in providing people to save on car insurance, but her passion leads her into writing with a little more substance and a lot more heart.
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