I love the environment. But I hate taking the bus. In Los Angeles, the Metro is your only option for public transportation, and it sucks. So I drive. Many of us out there don’t have the option of taking public transportation everywhere we go all the time. So here are some tips for making your car a less environmentally-hostile option:
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1. Lighten Your Load
Any weight in your car makes the engine use more gas to go forward. Empty out everything in your car except for your emergency kit, reusable bags and your passengers.
Some culprits I’ve had: gym bags when I’m not headed to the gym (“but maybe I’ll decide to go to the gym once I get there!!”), nonperishable groceries I haven’t taken out of the trunk, three or four spare jackets/sweatshirts, and a duffel bag from the last weekend trip I took.
Bikes racks and luggage holders are also guilty of weighing the car down unnecessarily.
2. Keep Your Car Cooler
The AC is a major gas vampire. Park in the shade or invest in a window shade so your car doesn’t heat up so much. If you’re traveling below 40 MPH, roll down the windows instead of firing up the AC.
If you’re going faster than that, put the AC on for a couple of minutes, and then just use the fan and set the car to take the already-cooled air from inside your car.
3. Don’t Be A Speed Demon
Once your car goes above 65 MPH, most of the gas you expend is battling the wind resistance. Keep your speedometer in the 60-65 sweet spot when you’re on the freeway to maximize mileage.
4. Start Slowly
“Jackrabbit” starts, where you slam your gas pedal all the way to the floor when the light turns green, are a surefire way to waste gas. Increase your speed slowly.
5. Streamline Your Fuel Usage
Like I said, having to drive a car is a necessary evil for many otherwise earth-mindful people. You can negate some of the impact by splitting rides. Does your roommate or neighbor also need to go to the grocery store?
If you have multiple errands to run, plot your route ahead of time so you go the minimum distance possible between all stops. And use Google Maps to find out exactly how far away some of your destinations are – if it’s less than a mile, you can burn fat instead of fuel and walk instead.