Shades of Green: Cars 2

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The all-American pastime – driving our cars. While a small portion of us has already moved to hybrids and low impact vehicles, most of us have not. Yet it just isn’t has hard as you think to do better.

CarsLet’s keep in mind that this is one of the most important things we can do to reduce our human impact on the environment. In the U.S., about 20 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions come from cars and light trucks. Of course, this contributes significantly to climate change through global warming. It also contributes to air pollution (ask anyone who lives in Los Angeles!), ground pollution as particulate matter is washed out of the air and into our soil, and to disease and medical conditions suffered by many.

If you want to do something to impact the footprint we are making on the environment, this is it. Look at your car, and the use of your car, and start making changes.

So what can we do? Continuing from last Friday, here are eight more ideas:

  • It’s a lifestyle change, but consider car pooling. Find people at your office or around your neighborhood who work in the same area and set up a car pool. If you cut down just one trip a week, you’ll save one-fifth of your gas expenditure, carbon emissions, etc. And money.
  • Try telecommuting if your company and business will allow that. Working from home saves you the trip. Sell the idea to your boss as not only green, but more efficient. Remember, you can always go to the office when necessary. Any number of trips to the office you save is a positive step. Think this won’t save anything? The average rush-hour commute in 2000 was 62 hours! What a waste of time!
  • Use mass transit. Use the bus instead of driving. If your city has light rail or subway, use it. It will end up being significantly cheaper than driving even though you still have to pay for the ticket. Remember that a 20-mile round-trip commute costs about $2,000 a year in gas alon

    e for your cars. Anything less than that is savings. And, you  are not spewing emissions into the atmosphere. Even if you have to drive a short distance to a bus or rail stop, there are still significant savings involved.

  • This one will surprise you. If you have a reasonably efficient car now, keep it longer. It actually costs four tons of carbon emissions and almost 700 pounds of other pollutants spewed into the atmosphere to manufacture just one new car! Let's hold on to our cars longer. Each additional year makes a big difference.
  • Consider biodiesel if your car has a diesel engine. It’s renewable, biodegradable, and has none of the sulfur of regular diesel. Biodeisel B20 (a mix of 80-percent conventional diesel and 20-percent biodiesel; biodiesel comes in ranges of B5 to B100, with the higher the number signifying the higher the biofuel content; B20 is the base at which realistic fuel economy savings begin) saves 50 gallons of oil per year and will reduce your carbon emissions by 30 percent.
  • If you drive a normal gas-driven engine, explore E85 ethanol. Made from corn and other renewal resources, ethanol can be used by many modern, flex-fuel engines. There are millions on the road now and you may have one and not know it. Ask you dealer.
  • Get a different car. Find the highest mileage vehicle you can that has a flex-fuel engine and buy it. Use it for most of your commuting and errands. Cut your emissions and your fuel costs dramatically.
  • Get a really different car. Go for a hybrid. These cars get excellent mileage and have very low emission rates. Yes, they are a little more expensive, but you’ll get that back in fuel efficiency. If you can’t do the hybrid, find a small car with a high-mile-per-gallon rating.

By Julie Vincent, APR and Bob Dittmer, APR

From: Shades of Green, available at


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