Cars and Driving

We all know that cars have a very negative effect on the environment, but it’s staggering that the U.S consumes 28,000 42-gallon barrels of oil every two minutes. However, for many (myself included), cars are a necessity. But we can do a lot to minimize the damaging effects (see tips below).

Of course, biking, walking, and taking the train (if/when possible) are excellent ways to eliminate or minimize driving. And for those who can get by without a car, or can get rid of a second car, the financial savings are even greater than the environmental savings: the costs of the car and of insurance, depreciation, city sticker & registration, fuel, and maintenance add up quickly.

What you can do to make a difference (and save money and stress at the same time!):

  • When buying a vehicle, consider the environment! Vehicle use has a huge environmental impact, and imported oil costs consumers and businesses      billions of dollars a year and hundreds of billions more on defense related expenditures due to dependence on foreign energy expenditures.
  • Yahoo’s green auto website has a green rating, with mileage of course being the most important factor, and has a good site too.
  • For example, Edmunds currently has a great article titled “Your Fuel Economy Gauge is Lying.” It notes that a car that gets 25 mpg and goes 15,000 miles a year will cost $12,000 in 5 years! That’s for a car that gets 25 mpg! That puts fuel economy in perspective. And despite a current dip in prices, it’s likely that over 5 years, the price will only get higher.
  • A hybrid (or now, all electric) car may cost significantly more up front, but the five-year cost to own and operate of some hybrids is often nearly the same because of the fuel savings.  The economics get even better as fuel prices increase.
  • Don’t forget that SLS is an idle free zone. Take that with you; everywhere should be an idle free zone! If you’re going to be stopped for a minute or more, you’ll save gas by turning your car off. Idling is not necessary to run a radio or accessories for short durations.  If it’s cold outside (or hot in the summer), your car will still retain its temperature for a while before you need to turn the car on again to warm up (or cool down) the interior.
  • Keep proper tire inflation. Proper inflation not only saves gas, it’s safer. Improper inflation wastes gas, speeds tire wear, and can be dangerous due to less effective braking and handling.
  • It’s an easy habit to get into. Most gas stations sell a pressure gauge for $2-3. It takes less than 5 minutes (about the same as the time required to fill the tank) to check and fill the tires to the proper pressure, which is usually listed on the driver’s side door pillar, or you can also check the owner’s manual.
  • Combine multiple trips to minimize miles driven (and save time).
  • Drive gently! You don’t have to be a hyper-miler to have real benefits by driving more gently. It saves not only a significant amount of gas, but also a lot of wear and tear on your engine, brakes, and tires. And just as importantly, it’s safer and much less stressful!

Some of the following information will be kept at the end of each message as a resource: great and easy ways to shop green, easy ways to stay updated on environmental legislation. Other information, such as environmental events and places to go will be updated from time to time.

Shop Green

Vote with your pocketbook!  It’s one of the best ways to have an impact, and not just with your car purchase. Many websites offer good information on more environmentally friendly products. Both of the following sites are really good. Consumer Reports provides rigorous testing on all of its products, and since it doesn’t accept advertisements, is a dependent, unbiased source. On Amazon, you can get a lot of excellent customer feedback. Through these (and other websites) you can ensure you’re getting a high quality green product and not one that you’ll only order once. is the Consumer Reports website.

Vote for the environment

Stay up to date on important environmental legislation. Get periodic emails that give a brief background on issues and usually the means to make a quick difference by signing a petition and/or sending a quick email to your legislator(s):

The League of Conservation Voters: 

  • Through our National Environmental Scorecard and Presidential Report Card we inform the public about the most important environmental legislation of the past Congressional session and show them how their own and other representatives voted.
  • We run tough and effective campaigns to defeat anti-environment candidates, and support those leaders who stand up for a clean, healthy future for America.  
  • Out of the more than 1,500 candidates endorsed by LCV and the state LCVs in 2008, a stunning 85% won.

LCV's track record demonstrates our ability to use the democratic process to improve the environment. How much impact can LCV campaigns make on national policy? In a Congress closely divided on the environment, these LCV victories can make all the difference.


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