Every time you drive to work, pick your kids up from school, or run errands around town, your car emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And it adds up — over the course of a year, the average car produces more than five tons of the greenhouse gas.
Luckily there are plenty of strategies you can put into practice to help minimize your environmental impact — start with these to get your family driving on the road to carbon neutrality:
Check your tires. Taking conscientious care of your car reduces your carbon footprint in a dramatic way over the long haul. Balanced tires, with just the right amount of air pres¬sure, use less gas. Underinflated tires cause a 5 percent decrease in fuel economy. Also, make sure your tires are properly aligned. If they aren’t, your engine will have to work harder and as a result you’ll see a 10 percent dip in your car’s gas mileage. Check your tires frequently, and you'll make fewer trips to the pump.
Carpool when possible. By arranging a carpool even one or two days a week, you can make a measurable positive impact on the environment. Reducing the number of trips back and forth from work, school, and baseball practice saves time, money, and the environment. If carpooling is not an option for you, talk with your employer about the possibility of telecommuting one day a week.
Slow down. Every time you hit the pedal and go from 50 to 60 miles per hour, you’re using up 20 percent more gas and releasing even more carbon dioxide into the air. So whenever you’re tempted to fly down the freeway, just remember the environmental heroics that come from driving a bit slower.
Use alternative transportation for short-distance trips. Next time you need to head to your local market, take the kids and bike or walk the distance instead of driving. It’s good for the air and good for your health. You can even make the last leg of the journey a competition. When your destination comes into view, game on! First one there gets to choose the breakfast cereal for the week!
Head on over to a car wash. You have permission to be lazy — in the name of going green, of course. Taking your car through a commercial car wash means you’ll use less water to get your vehicle clean. By mixing air with water, car wash businesses use 60 percent less water in the process than you do just rinsing off your car. Commercial car washes are also required by law to send their waste water to treatment, while the average home job wastes approximately 116 gallons of water that typically run off through the sewer system into natural waterways. So put away the sponges, and just drive through.
Replace your air filter. Nearly 25 percent of vehicles on the road right could use a new air filter. By checking yours, and making the replacement if necessary, you can up your gas mileage by nearly 10 percent. Use less gas, make fewer trips to the pump, reduce your carbon emissions. Works like a charm!
Cap it! An estimated 17 percent of cars have a missing or broken gas cap. Has yours seen better days? If so, get a replacement STAT. Fuel economy suffers due to escaping fumes, and when gas evaporates, pollutants create smog. Keep that cap locked in place.
Invest in a few extras. Looking for the simplest way to be greener? Avoid using chemicals that could potentially damage the environment to keep the inside of your car clean. Using rubber mats to protect carpets, buying seat covers to extend the life of the upholstery, and removing dirt and debris with a vacuum before resorting to harsh solvents are all great options.
Swap chicken for beef. Instead of ordering up burgers at the drive-thru when you’re on the go, why not pick up chicken sandwiches instead? Red-meat animals generally release large quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas that’s about 72 times as potent as carbon dioxide over a 20-year span. It’s easy to think “burger and fries” when you’re on the go, but foregoing red meat is environmentally friendly.
Plant a tree. In the market for a new car? Test-drive a vehicle on Carter Subaru’s lot and they will plant a new tree in the Mountains to Sound Greenway. For each car purchased, Carter will plant three additional trees! During their lifespan, four trees will offset one year of vehicle carbon emissions.