Happy Earth Day! In celebration of the extraordinary planet we inhabit, we thought it would be appropriate to talk about ways in which we can all become greener drivers. Automobiles have a bad rap when it comes to culpability for the environmental woes facing the earth today—and with good reason: they are certainly a leading contributer to this world's burden of pollution. But even if you can't live without your car, you don't have to accept that driving a vehicle means remaining guilty of such high degrees of environmental destruction. There are ways to reduce the impact your ownership of an automobile has on the environment.
Don't top up. When you go to fill up your tank with gas, resist the urge to top up an already full gas tank. This practice not only wastes the earth's precious resources, but can also lead to dangerous and toxic spills. Fill your tank only as much as it needs.
Respect speed limits. Not only is this safer, but it also has the potential to reduce the amount of fuel you consume (which in turn has the effect of reducing the amount of pollution you create). Drivers who speed, then stop suddenly at lights and intersections, then floor their pedals as soon as it's their turn again, actually use far more gas than those who maintain stabler speeds. Additionally, driving the limit makes it easier for you to observe signs that indicate environmental features like wildlife crossings, and being aware of these and in control of your speed will undoubtedly assist you in avoiding the unnecessary death of various wildlife forms.
Pickle your car. Well, don't actually pickle it—but consider replacing toxic car cleaning products with the world's favourite pickling agent: vinegar. Vinegar is incredibly effective at cleaning and disinfecting, and it's cheap to boot. For a more detailed exploration of green cleaning methods for maintaining your vehicle, see our article on green car maintenance here.
Walk, carpool, or take transit. While you don't need to forgo the convenience (or in some cases necessity) of having your own vehicle, it doesn't mean you need to be totally dependent upon it. When alternatives present themselves, take advantage! Walking has the added benefit of keeping you in shape. At any rate, a reduction in the use of your vehicle will reduce your carbon footprint. The best part? It will probably reduce your insurance premiums as well.
Go electric. If you're currently in the market for a new vehicle, and if you have adequate savings to front load the expenses of that new purchase, consider an electric or hybrid option. You'll more than break even over the years as gas prices continue to rise. You should also be able to receive a discount on your car insurance rates simply for being a good steward of the earth.