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Drive Green - Learn Ways to Lessen Your Carbon Footprint


Though driving a hybrid or electric vehicle is the greenest way to go, you can get plenty of eco-mileage out of green-geared driving and car care habits alone. Doing so will not only cut down on carbon emissions and other toxic pollutants, but also save you money and extend the life of your vehicle. Considering that 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from cars and light trucks, greening your driving experience is among the most environmentally-friendly things you can do.

Follow a Maintenance Schedule

Whatever the make and model of your vehicle, it will drive better and last longer if you maintain it on a regular basis, including:

  • Oil Changes - every 3 months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first - the recommended grade of oil in a brand labled "energy conserving"
  • Replace Air Filters - varies from 15,000 to 20,000 miles or about once a year
  • Proper Tire Inflation - check your tires weekly and inflate to proper pressure as specified on the tire
  • Tire Rotation - every 5,000 to 10,000 miles depending on the manufactures recommendations
  • Tune-Up - refer to your owner's manual for scheduled time frame

Keep a record of everything, as proof of a regular maintenance schedule makes your car all the more attractive if and when you want to resell it, not to mention the obvious resale benefits of keeping your car in tip-top shape. Return to Top

Cool and Heat Your Car Naturally

To save on gas (i.e., carbon emissions), limit your air conditioner use. Park in the shade. Invest in a reflective shade cover for your windshield. Keep the sun roof closed. And roll down your windows on cooler days, except during highway driving when the wind resistance would use more gas than the air conditioner. Try dressing in lighter clothes that breathe, like organic cotton. You could also invest in a solar car fan.

As for heating your car, take just the opposite approach. Park in the sun. Keep the sun roof open. And keep your windows sealed. Dress in layers and wear your coat. Return to Top

Drive With Intention

Instead of allowing traffic or construction to control your route and speed, take matters into your own hands:

  • Determine the best times for travel.
  • Telecommute if possible or ask to work hours that will allow you to travel during "off peak" travel times.
  • Instead of racing from stop light to stop light, minimize your acceleration and coast as much as you can.
  • Incorporate as many errands as you can into one trip.
  • Set the cruise control for highway driving to increase fuel efficiency.
  • No need to "warm up the engine" - this just wastes gas.
  • When waiting in a parking lot or drive-thru, turn off the engine if you will be sitting for more than 10 seconds.
  • Travel the posted speed limit - this is safer and uses less fuel.

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Lighten Your Load

The more weight you carry in your trunk, the harder your car has to work, which means more gas used. The same is true of anything you carry on the roof of your car, such as a rack for luggage, bicycles or surfboards. For those times when you're not carrying anything in it, remove the rack and store it away so as to create optimal aerodynamic driving conditions. Return to Top

Drive Less - Bike and Walk More

bike to work

If you live in a heavily-trafficked area and your destination is just a couple of miles away, leave the car at home and walk or bike instead. Between stop-and-go traffic and finding a parking spot, walking could be just as fast, and biking could take half the time

As for those times when only a motorized vehicle will do, carpool. It need not be limited to work colleagues, but friends and neighbors, too. Taking turns driving to the grocery store, the post office or the beauty salon could save you all hundreds of miles driven within a year. Return to Top

Clean Green

Just as with household cleaning products, most commercial car care products contain dangerous chemicals, such as formaldehyde, phthalates and volatile organic compounds (VOC's). Considering you spend an average of 400 hours a year in your vehicle, you want it to be as non-toxic an environment as possible. As for the products you use to clean the exterior of your vehicle, they too need be eco-friendly, as anything washed away in the process seeps into and contaminates the ground.

Waterless Car Wash Instead of wasting the 50 gallons of water it takes to wash your car at home, or the 14 gallons it takes in an automatic car wash, try waterless washing instead. Both Eco Touch and Lucky Earth are trusted eco-friendly car care brands that have waterless car wash products. You simply spray it on your car's exterior surface and wipe it away with a microfiber cloth. The substance is specially-designed to clean without scratching. Follow it up with an eco-friendly wax job with Eco Touch Quick Wax or Green Stuff Wax Polish.

Other Car Care Cleaning Supplies From your dashboard, to your floorboards, you can and should clean with eco-friendly car care products. Eco Touch has a fine line of soy- and coconut-based products, including:

  • Dashboard and Trim Cleaner
  • Window Cleaner
  • Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner
  • Metal and Chrome Cleaner

Beyond these eco-friendly products, you can green your car care simply by regularly dusting with a microfiber cloth and vacuuming the seats and floors. The more often you do so, the less often you'll need to use any products at all. Floorboard mats help too, though when purchasing new ones be sure to opt for the recycled rubber variety. Return to Top

Green Your Car Accessories

As in every other area of your life, the purest of green living means limiting your purchases of new items. However, there are some accessories for your vehicle that may be necessary, such as the reflective windshield shade cover and recycled rubber car mats referenced above. Also, invest in an eco-friendly travel mug and water bottle. In the event of emergencies, keep a solar flashlight/radio in the trunk. And to protect your baby from the synthetic materials in his or her car seat, and germs at the grocery store, invest in bamboo covers for car seats and shopping carts. Return to Top

Before Purchasing a Vehicle, Analyze Its Fuel Efficiency at

How many miles per gallon does the car you want really get? The website will give you the answer regarding makes and models of vehicles as far back as 1984, including:

  • City Driving MPG
  • Highway Driving MPG
  • Annual Fuel Cost
  • Carbon Footprint
  • Air Pollution Score

Then once you've chosen the greenest car you can find to fit your needs and budget, follow all the other steps outlined above for the ultimate green driving experience! Return to Top