How To Be a Green Driver Without Buying a New Car

by Antonio Pasolini on May 4, 2011

Electric and hybrid cars are part of a solution mix to decrease carbon emissions from vehicles. But not everyone can afford them yet. As it happens, we can all start contributing towards cleaner driving by adopting simple measures with the vehicles we already have, even if we cannot afford an electric or hybrid car. Guest blogger Jenni Sunde gives us some tips.

Driving is an inevitable part of day-to-day life for many commuters. The impact of vehicle related CO2 emissions can no longer be ignored. There are more than 250 million cars regularly operated in the United States. In total, these cars make 365 billion trips with a combined mileage of 2.3 trillion miles per year. No matter which way you look at it, this is hard on the planet. It is time to go green, regardless of your income. Fortunately, there are many impacting ways to be a green driver without having to buy a hybrid or electric car. All it takes is a little bit of creativity and some commitment to the greater cause.
Giving up driving all together would be ideal, but is too unrealistic for most Americans. Instead, you can start with a few simple steps to living a greener, commuter lifestyle.

Step One: Get a handle on your skills and seek to practice smooth and steady driving. Smoother driving with less time spent on the gas or the brakes can equate to substantially 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 that engine to go, so work on smoother transitions.

Don’t idle your car. Nine minutes of idling is double the pollutants of turning the car off and then on again when it is time to go. Despite the myths, you will not waste gas by restarting your engine. Try to avoid rush hour traffic. If you do wind up in traffic, be sure to turn off your engines if you are at a standstill for more than 30 seconds.

Service your car regularly. This means regular oil and air filter changes, and keeping those tires inflated. Poorly maintained engines can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as 20 percent. Slightly deflated tires can also reduce miles per gallon. Simple updates will keep you on the green commuter track.

Step Two: Try to work from home whenever possible. You can start by telling your boss that it boosts morale, profits, and the eco-friendliness of the company. In addition, this could potentially save 2 billion gallons of gasoline per year. Telecommuting one day a week could cut CO2 emissions by 400 lbs. per year. Who would want to say no to that?
Get flexed with work. This means that if you can’t telecommute, maybe you can ask to have a schedule that is outside of the peak hours. This way you can avoid rush hour traffic and all the carbon-filled standstills that so often go along with it.
Use mass transit or use your body. Maybe you can use alternate transportation a few days a week. This could mean biking, busing, scootering, or even walking if it’s not too far. This will not only save on CO2 emissions, but could also save you some gas money.

Step Three: Take the big step when the time comes. This means that when your old car dies, upgrade to an eco-friendly vehicle. While this may cost more upfront, it will undoubtedly save you in gas costs over time. With gas prices sky rocketing to nearly five dollars a gallon, this is a sound investment indeed. You could always look into purchasing a used hybrid or electric car to save a little more. In the end, you are helping yourself by helping the planet.

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 with car insurance quotes, but her passion leads her into writing with a little more substance and a lot more heart.

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