Zero Emissions Day is almost here. On Wednesday, September 21, you too can celebrate what the planet would be like without the release of any fossil fuels by making a few changes to how and when you use your car.
A major CO2 emitter, cars play a central role in releasing harmful emissions into the atmosphere each time you drive. But, there are simple and small, ways to reduce your carbon footprint when it comes to your car.
So, use this holiday as your excuse and start thinking about your car a little differently.
Decrease idle time in your car
One way to reduce your car’s emissions is to simply turn it off. Whenever you’re idling in your car for more than a few seconds, and know you’ll be sitting there a bit longer, turn off your car. This not only reduces emissions but is also more efficient.
Although some may disagree, it’s actually true that idling for only 30 seconds uses up more fuel than turning off, and turning back on, your car.
Great places to avoid idling include:
- Waiting in the carpool line at school
- Sitting curbside for a pick-up order to get delivered to your car
- Going through a slow drive-thru
There’s also no need to warm up or cool off your car by letting it run before you get in to drive. While this does impact the temperature inside the car, it’s probably okay to be a little uncomfortable for the first few seconds of driving rather than leaving your car idle.
Take your car for a check-up
Zero Emissions Day is a great time to give your car a little care. Take this day to schedule a routine maintenance check-up. This appointment won’t take long, but the thorough check your car receives can make it possible to diagnose issues early.
Anything from the brakes to the transmission, when not working properly, can decrease the mileage efficiency in your car. When you need to use more gas to make your car simply function, you’re releasing more CO2 into the air.
Even if a full maintenance check isn’t in the cards on September 21, try to find just a few minutes to at least check your tire pressure. Low-pressure tires actually force your engine to work harder, burning more fuel than your car really needs to run.
Plan a more efficient route
Running errands isn’t always an efficient process. Often, it’s one where we hop in the car, start shopping, forget something on the list at the last place, and end up doubling back. Either that or you have to pass the final stop on your errand list to run all your others because that’s where you’re buying perishable items.
An inefficient errand run means driving way more than is necessary, so be conscientious when planning out your day. If you’re out in your car, making multiple stops, how can you construct your route so it’s the fastest?
Leave the car at home
Though it can be hard to run errands on foot (or by bike) when you don’t live in a major urban area, most homes are close enough to at least one store to enable you to swap out the car for your sneakers, walking instead of driving.
Pick a small errand, with a store within walking distance, check the weather, and set out on foot or with your bike. If you’re walking, you can always bring along a collapsible cart to make it easier to transport your items home.
If there aren’t stores close by, look at the rest of your day and see if there’s a situation where you drive when you could walk. Lunch breaks could provide a great opportunity. If you always drive to your favorite place to grab some food, consider going somewhere closer that’s within walking distance.
Purchase gas from a station that gives back
When you do have to be in your car, where you buy gas can make a huge difference on Zero Emissions Day. At Stop & Shop, every gallon of gas you put into your tank helps offset COs emissions through the Stop & Shop Restore Program.
Through the investment in certified carbon reduction projects, Restore offsets up to 30 percent of your car’s carbon emissions. Organizations working in the US, Canada, and around the world all benefit each time you put Stop & Shop fuel into your car.
What’s great about this particular Zero Emissions Day activity is it’s something easy to do all year long. You always have a choice in where you fill up, and picking stations working toward reducing your car’s carbon footprint should be an easy pick.
Think about your carbon footprint
While we can’t change what we release into the air overnight, focusing on your car in these small ways is an important step toward fewer harmful emissions. It gives you an opportunity to decrease your own carbon footprint while reminding you of what the future could ultimately be like if we all do just a little more.