The Environmental Protection Agency estimates 100 million Americans live in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution. Much of that can be attributed to the increased emissions from cars and trucks, which are also major contributors to climate change.
If driving a car doesn’t sit well with your green ideals, there are things you can do to make your actions more planet-friendly. From changing your driving habits to choosing a new, more environmentally-friendly vehicle, there are several ways to get from place to place while minimizing your impact on the environment.
Of course, using no motorized vehicle at all is the best option for the planet. Seek out other options whenever possible.
*Walk or bike – In especially congested areas, commuters may actually arrive on time more often by riding a bicycle than trying to fight rush hour traffic in a car. Some businesses offer programs where they will replace employees’ walking shoes if they hike to work rather than drive. Not only do these options help reduce climate changing gases, they offer excellent exercise.
*Public transportation – Emissions are obviously reduced if a large number of people ride one vehicle, a form of mass transit, rather than each one of them driving their own. (Also note that you can work on other things or relax reading a book or playing a game while in public transport.)
These modes of transportation really can work for most people.
Decide on a vehicle
If not having a car is not an option, there are many different types of vehicles available that use fuel other than gasoline. While cars that run on gasoline emit carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas, newer cars rely on cleaner sources. However, be sure to research the options carefully and bear in mind the location of refueling stations.
*Hybrids – Some of these models get up to 50 miles per gallon due to their ability to capture energy when the car brakes. That energy is stored in batteries and then used instead of fuel.
*Electric – Nearly every car manufacturer is scrambling to produce an electric model. There are some costs that need to be considered, such as the recharging hookup and how much it will increase utility bills. Here’s an excellent resource on the pricing of an electric car.
*Gas mileage – If an alternative fuel car is not a possibility, look for the vehicle with the highest gas mileage rate available. These will usually have smaller engines. Other options could be cars that run on biofuels or ethanol.
If purchasing a new eco car is out of your price range, but it is necessary for you to drive a regular car for some journeys (though, that would really be very few people), there are some things you can do to reduce your fuel consumption.
*Maintenance – Keeping the car properly maintained will improve its fuel mileage and keep emissions as low as possible. Inflate the tires to proper levels, install a clean air filter, and get the engine tuned regularly.
*Refueling – Avoid having gasoline evaporate while refueling on hot days by doing so in the morning or later in the evening. Try not to refuel on Ozone Action Days if at all possible and never top off the tank past the automatic shut off point.
*Driving – Try to avoid sudden acceleration, hard braking, revving or leaving the engine idling. Use the cruise control on the highway and maintain a consistent speed.
While the number of miles Americans drive has been increasing since 1972, people now realize it’s hurting the planet. By driving less, finding the right vehicle and keeping it properly maintained, motorists can help protect the planet by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
This is a guest post from Jane Simpson, who believes we can all lead a more planet-friendly lifestyle no matter what our budget. She writes for a site that offers a free loan calculator that can be used to work out an affordable budget when purchasing a new car, if needed.
I'm the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular clean energy website in the world, and Planetsave, a leading green and science news site. I've been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and I've been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, bicycling, and wind energy for the past few years. You can also find my work on Scientific American, Reuters, Think Progress, GE's ecomagination site, several sites in the Important Media network, & many other places. To connect on some of your favorite social networks, go to zacharyshahan.com or click on some of the links below.