Eco-Friendly Driving Habits: A Win for Everybody

May 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Car, Electric Cars, Front Page, Sustainability, Tips

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An electric car charges at a street-side charging station.

An electric car charges at a street-side charging station in Amsterdam. (Source:

These days, it’s not difficult to reduce the carbon footprint while on the go. Not only is the global market for hybrid and electric cars expected to grow through at least 2015, but car makers are coming up with all kinds of ways to inspire eco-friendly driving. For example, Chevrolet is equipping all 2013 models with an “Ecologic Label,” which lets customers know which environmentally friendly features each vehicle has.

But while the auto industry is doing what it can to encourage green living, we still can do more to make car travel as eco-friendly as possible. And you don’t have to buy a hybrid to do so. Here’s how you can make the environment a healthier place from behind the wheel, no matter what type of car you drive.

Drive less. Emissions from vehicles have long contributed to smog and air pollution, but the problem is getting worse. Americans are driving 127 percent more miles today than they were in 1970, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That means the average driver is causing more damage to the environment than in years past. Every time you leave your car parked, not only are you saving money on gas, but you’re doing the environment a favor. There are other benefits to decreasing your mileage:

  • Save time by combining several errands in one trip.
  • Catch up on your reading by taking mass transportation.
  • Give your exercise routine a boost by walking or cycling.
  • Jump-start your social life by carpooling with co-workers.

Keep your car serviced. Not only will proper maintenance extend the life of your car, but it will cut down on air pollution. Have you ever had to hold your breath because you were stuck at a light behind a motorist with smoke oozing out of his exhaust pipe? A technician can let you know whether your car is running inefficiently and give your car a tune-up if it’s not.

Know when to fill up. When the weather’s hot, filling your tank in the afternoon during the steamiest time of the day is one of the worst things you can do because the gas vapors can mix with the heat and sunlight, creating smog. Instead, fill your tank in the morning or at the end of the day. If your area declares an Ozone Action Day, try not to fill your tank at all during that period.

Don’t top off your tank. You may think you’re simply getting as much gas into your car as possible, but in reality you’re wasting gas and money when you continue to force gas into your tank once the nozzle automatically shuts off. Even worse, gas spillage that occurs when you over-fill your tank can evaporate and add to air pollution.

Use green cleaning strategies. Thinking about heading over to the car wash? If you really want to have a positive effect on the environment, consider adopting environmentally friendly cleaning practices. The Environmental Services Division in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., recommends that eco-conscious drivers either use waterless car wash solutions that you apply to your car when it’s dry and then wipe off, or take your wheels to a car wash that recycles its water.

When it comes to protecting the environment, little actions can go a long way. And whether your efforts yield you more time, more money or simply a chance to feel good about yourself, it’s a win for everyone.

Laura Adams

Guest Writer

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Laura Adams is managing editor of Car Insurance Quotes, a leading online provider of auto insurance quotes and news.