EVERYONE can “save green” while they “drive green”!

My dad is a fairly typical guy. And our conversations are fairly typical too … he loves to talk about the weather, complain about politics and, lately, gripe… (incessantly!)… about gas prices.

While he doesn’t “buy” all of my environmental beliefs and commitments, it gave me quite a bit of pleasure to let him know (following that on-going “gas price rant”) that I could provide him with some great tips to save green and BE green. (*insert “annoyed-Dad-grumble” here!*)

Here are the steps I shared with him.  Even for the biggest naysayer, there are little things we can all do to impact the environment less, AND save some cash on fuel. (Imagine, I got to tell my DAD how to drive, for a change!):

  1. Use the cruise – hitting that little button burns less fuel and can increase your mileage by 15%, simple as that.
  2. Maintain it – a well-maintained vehicle actually saves gas and creates less pollution because it runs more efficiently.
  3. Keep your tires properly inflated – this also affects fuel efficiency and emissions.
  4. Clean out your trunk – all that extra stuff you’re carting around in the back adds more weight and reduces your fuel efficiency.
  5. Avoid idling – did you know this consumes more fuel than when you’re actually driving, so don’t warm your car for 15 minutes and shut it off when you can.
  6. Skip drive-thrus – they’re also an “idle nightmare”, and (contrary to belief) restarting it does NOT use more gas.
  7. Keep your speed steady and stop flooring it – this is the reason cruise control is more efficient, and flooring it for just one second actually causes a burst of CO2 emissions equal to 30 minutes of normal driving.
  8. Stay the speed limit – for every 5 mph over 60 it’s like paying 20 cents more per gallon of gas because it burns faster (emissions!).
  9. Consider telecommuting for your job once a week – if it’s possible and you never asked your employer, consider it… they may say yes!  Other option, carpool with a local work pal.
  10. Park it – imagine that!  Use a little bit of foot power and walk, or get out your bike and pedal away! It’s free and there are absolutely zero emissions!

If you’re looking for a new car, the EPA offers a guide to the best car choices to meet your needs.

Now, I’m not suggesting you miff-off your dad and tell him how to drive, but he might just be impressed with your brilliance when you share some little tips to save some (green) gas money!

Simple tip: The greenest way to wash your car

car wsh kdzLike many parts of the country, my “neck of the woods” has been serving up some pretty rainy weather.  Doing much outside has been an anomaly, unless you’re a duck or enjoy ankle-deep mud. (Me?  Not a duck.  Don’t like mud.)

Add to that the street construction around my neighbor and, as a result, my car is filthy… constantly.  My kids happen to love helping to wash the car but not when it’s 45 degrees and raining.  Despite it all, I still need to get the road gunk off the car!

Have you ever wondered about the greenest way to wash your car? Well, much to my kids’ dismay, a commercial car wash is actually the greenest choice.

Commercial car washes use about 60% less water than do-it-yourself methods.  (And for my family, when you car wshadd all of the additional time spraying each other with the hose… well, that percentage is probably higher!) They’re also required to treat and filter the water before they release it into the environment… another big bonus.  And, if you wash at home (and don’t use eco-friendly cleaners) it just ends up going directly into the environment.

Next time your car is in need of a good washin’, don’t sweat it.  Drive through a commercial car wash and recognize that you’re NOT being lazy… you’re getting your car squeaky clean and keeping it squeaky “green”!

Simple tip: What happens to YOUR used motor oil?

mtr oil2As more and more families try to cut costs, more and more families are handling car maintenance at home as opposed to dropping by a local maintenance shop.  The most common task is changing your car’s oil, but… what do YOU do with your used motor oil?

You may have tried to store it in a container and slip it into your trash, unnoticed, but did you know:

A single quart of motor oil, if disposed of improperly, can contaminate up to 2,000,000 gallons of fresh water!!!

A bit of a disturbing fact!  The next time that temptation strikes, think twice and instead store your used motor oil in a safely sealed container and drop it at a local facility.  Most auto stores and repair shops will accept it, free of charge. And if you need help in locating a facility, simply check out Earth911.com and enter “motor oil” and your zip code.

I assure you, you will have plenty of choices and our fresh water supply won’t take the harmful impact!

“Happy (and green) trails to you” in your travels…

When we were planning for our recent vacation I knew there was a lot more to consider than just being green once we arrivedhighway-traff-2 at our destination.  Obviously we had to get “from here to there” first.

Our greenest travel options would have been to travel by train or rent a hybrid, but definitely not by plane, since the emissions from airplanes are astronomical and have a tremendous effect on global warming!  In fact, a one-way flight from New York to Denver produces as much carbon dioxide per passenger as an SUV produces in a month!  But since we were driving our own car, we had it maintenanced before our trip (including proper inflation of the tires) and used the cruise to assure maximum fuel efficiency.

While we planned our driving route, we not only considered the trip that was the shortest, but also with the least likelihood of “stop and go” traffic because this only burns huge amounts of fuel (much more than steady driving for a longer distance) and again creates more emissions.  (We mistakenly challenged this thinking on our way home and paid the price in both time and fuel consumption!)

On our way to vacation, we also needed to spend one overnight in a hotel during our travels.  It’s not always easy to locate and select a green hotel when you’re in a remote area of the country, but there are ways to make your stay a little greener.hotel-room

  • Although it was only an overnighter, had we stayed longer we would have chosen to keep and reuse our towels and sheets more than once.  More and more hotels are offering this option and it certainly saves the energy required to do the washing.
  • Also, use your same “at home” rules about turning off lights and TVs, reasonable AC temperatures and the length of your showers.  Being away from home shouldn’t be a license to overuse.
  • And if you find yourself with recyclables but the hotel doesn’t recycle, take them with you and be sure to find a place where they can be recycled instead of having them become trash.

No matter where you go, how you go or where you stay along the way, choose to “follow the greener brick road” to your destination!

Green your drive-thru and carry-out orders.

drive-signEven the greatest of moms have to occasionally rely on a drive-thru or carry-out to fill the dinner menu! While the nutritional content of the food already has us feeling guilty, a green mom often cringes at the waste and excess that accompanies the food.

Who hasn’t received an order that crushes all of our environmental rules?!

Here are a few simple ways to put at least some of the guilt at bay:

  • First, park the car! Truly… idling creates more emissions than actually driving your car! And contrary to belief, stopping and restarting your car does not burn more fuel.carry-bag
  • Skip the plastic utensils and napkins. If your order is going home with you, tell them you don’t need these items (that may only get thrown away).
  • Take only what you need/want. Avoid that 16-year old’s full grip on 12 packets of ketchup! Tell them exactly what and how many of the condiments you need instead of accepting those you don’t.
  • Say no to beverage holders. If you can manage it, use your car’s cup holders for beverages instead of taking a holder… but if you do take it, recycle it!
  • Use your own cup. If your order will include coffee, hand over your travel mug and ask them to use it.
  • Take your own bag in with you. Forgo that enormous, rustley, non-recyclable plastic bag that holds your carry-out order and tell them you’ll put your order in your own bag instead.

While these ideas might help satisfy your green side, I can’t guarantee that you won’t feel slow, sluggish or that overall sense of “ick” after your order gets consumed!