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Driving for change

by Staff

FILED IN: Issue 5 · Sustainability

You don’t have to start riding a tofu-powered lawn mower to help save the environment. There are plenty of simple things you can do that will help clean up the air—and save you a few bucks.

1. Get Your Car Serviced Regularly
Getting your car serviced regularly is one of the most important things you can do to minimize emissions and maximize fuel efficiency.

Regular service can spot lots of problems that reduce petrol mileage and increase pollution, such as a broken thermostat, low transmission fluid, sticky brake calipers—or even something as simple as a dirty air filter.

If you can’t remember when the last time was you had your car serviced, take it in. In extreme situations, you might increase your mileage by up to 10 percent. Even if you got only another two miles to the gallon, you’d be decreasing the carbon dioxide that your heap spews into the air by more than 1000kg per year. And that would be more than enough justification to go out and buy that coal-fired hot tub you’ve been yearning for, right?

2. Check Your Tyre Pressure
The softer your tyres are, the greater the friction between the road and the rubber and the harder your engine will have to work to get you where you’re going. When we check tyre pressure on our customers’ cars, we notice that they are often nowhere near the recommended pressure. And being off by as little as four pounds of pressure can reduce your mileage by 10 percent.

Don’t get us wrong: This doesn’t mean you should overinflate your tyres. Too much air in your tyres can seriously jeopardize your car’s handling—not to mention cause a tyre to explode. But you DO want keep your tyres right at the recommended pressure, which represents a good balance between ride, handling, and fuel efficiency. Here’s how we recommend checking tyre pressure.

3. Dispose of Fluids Properly
Your car is a veritable supermarket of toxic fluids, including brake fluid, motor oil, transmission fluid, antifreeze, and battery acid, each of which can become a toxic pollutant if not disposed of properly.

Spent fluids should be taken to an authorized drop-off location. (See the advert opposite for more information)
What happens to the waste fluid once it’s out of your hands? Some of it is sent to a recovery center, where it will be recycled. In most cases, such as with batteries, antifreeze, and oil, it will be processed and reused.

4. Slow Down and Drive Sensibly
Tear up the pavement and pretend you’re Evel Knievel if you want—just realize that it’s going to cost both you and the environment. Sudden braking and jack-rabbit starts are notoriously inefficient ways to drive.

Driving sanely will maximize your car’s fuel efficiency, reduce wear and tear on dozens of parts, and make you a safer driver.

5. Form A Car Co-Op
Formal car co-ops have been around for years in Europe. How do they work? Members share a fleet of vehicles and pay a monthly fee. And, since the organization takes care of all of the maintenance and repairs on the fleet, you’ll never have to worry about making a boat payment to your mechanic.

Car co-ops have been shown to reduce individual members’ driving by more than 50 percent. A study by the Swiss Office for Energy Affairs indicated that car co-op members reduced their driving by more than 70 percent without feeling particularly bothered by not having immediate access to a car.

6. Carpool with the Neighbour—Or Use Public Transportation
Okay, so carpooling or using public transportation is not exactly a revolutionary idea. But the fact is, we don’t do enough of either one of these things.

Admittedly, driving to work with the neighbour could be a colossal pain in the butt. But then again, if you’re lucky, you just might carpool with an investment banker and get in on some valuable insider trading tips.

Or carpool with the cute massage therapist next door and, well . . . you do the math.

If you live in a town or city with decent public transportation, leave your car home and use the bus or train. Even if you use public transit just once or twice a week, you’ll save wear and tear on your car, you won’t be shelling out for all that petrol, and you’ll find it a lot more relaxing than trying to dodge cell-phone-addicted rush-hour commuters. Plus you get to people-watch—an underappreciated activity.

7. Work from Home
Finally, think about asking your boss if you can work from home one day a week. Tommy works from home at least twice a week, enabling him to stay in his one-piece flannel pajamas for days at a time. ?


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