As each morning’s news reveals more about how the BP oil spill continues to devastate the Gulf of Mexico, it gets harder and harder to get into my car to drive to work. I’m a part of the problem, we all are. 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from cars and SUVs.
Stopping at the gas station feels terrible. Yes, this particular spill is BP’s fault, but boycotting BP and putting money in another Big Oil-stained pocket just makes me feel stupid and helpless, like a pawn in a game I don’t want to play.
I’m an American living in the suburbs. My lifestyle is dependent on being able to drive. I’m not a city planner or a politician, and unless a multitude of factors change, I’m probably not going to give up my job and go homestead off the grid.
But I’m ready to do something, and I know I’m not the only one feeling like this. There are things we can do now, even if we’re not quite ready to convert to bio-diesel or buy a new hybrid car.
Let’s do this, team.
1. Auto transporting. In my frustration with car culture, I thought those giants you see hauling cars on the road must be the worst culprits, but it’s the other way around. If you are moving across the country, let your car carpool. The Department of Energy website did this math:
One gallon of gasoline produces 19.564 lbs of carbon dioxide. Average mpg for a car or SUV is 19 mpg.One gallon of diesel produces 22.384 pounds of carbon dioxide. Average mpg for an auto transport truck is 4.7.
Just one auto transporting company shipping over 90,000 vehicles within a 12-month period of time saves 2,926,000 gallons of fuel, which means a 38,216,000-pound reduction of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.
2. Carpool. Because most days, we’re not moving across the country, we’re just going to work. We know about this one, we’ve got the HOV lanes. So what’s stopping us from carpooling? Shyness? Laziness? It’s high time to get over these things and make ride sharing networks happen. Call a meeting at the watercooler, send a group email to your coworkers, slip fliers in your neighbors’ mailboxes. Put a picture of those poor gulf pelicans on the flier. It’s not shameless, it’s real.
3. Consolidate your own trips just by planning ahead a little. Keep grocery lists on the fridge and add to them daily. Be strategic and just a little less frivolous.
4. Drive slower. I know it’s not sexy, but it saves gas.
5. Clean out your trunk. The lighter the car, the less gas it uses. (So maybe go on a diet, too?)
6. Don’t wash your car. Washing your car uses tons of water, energy and electricity. Be dirtier.
7. Put some air in those tires. But do it when you’re already at the gas station, don’t make an extra trip! Under-inflated tires use more gas. When you’re ready for new tires, look for a model with low rolling resistance.
And don’t forget, if you ever do abandon the suburbs for a farmstead or a city where everyone walks, don’t drive there. Let your car hitch a ride with an auto transporting company, and take the train.