Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mother's Day green driving tips

Like Earth Day, Mother's Day should be celebrated every day. Of course, if you're within driving distance of your mom, you may feel guilty for not visiting her this weekend. But some may feel the sting of green guilt associated with carbon emissions and our dependence on fossil fuels, which results in ever-more aggressive oil exploration, drilling, and disasters like the horrific Gulf spill.

Cars are responsible for one quarter of the United States’ annual carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, and an average American’s car produces 2750 pounds of carbon per year. Taking light rail cuts out 1366 pounds and a city bus cuts 804 pounds of carbon annually, and of course, biking and walking doesn’t give off any carbon emissions at all.

How to make Mom (and yourself) happy without wounding the planet?
The simplest greenest answer would be to not drive, and send local organic flowers, wine & cheese, and chocolates (delivered by a business in Mom's locale), instead.

That said...would Mom really prefer a material gift to a material hug from YOU? Just in case, here are some tips that will increase your fuel efficiency when you drive.

Did you know that road rage can cost you? According to the Department of Energy’s fuel economy guide, aggressive driving, such as speeding, rapid acceleration and braking to get around that jerk on the bike, lowers gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds and 5% at city speeds. Also, Big Green Purse reports that most cars hit their optimal fuel economy at 60 miles per hour (mph), so every additional 5 mph after that costs you an extra $0.l0 in gas. And remember: a little care and consideration in your driving habits may save you more than gas someday.
Ever wonder why Granddad’s 20 year old Cadillac still had such a smooth ride? Chances are he spent every weekend tinkering with it in the driveway, which both lengthens the life of a car and increase its fuel economy. The Department of Energy states that certain types of serious engine maintenance, such as replacing a busted oxygen sensor, can increase your fuel efficiency by as much as 40%. Keeping tires properly inflated will increase efficiency by 3.3% and regularly cleaning your air filter can improve efficiency by as much as 10%. Guess Granddad was greener than he realized.

For more info on green products: Celebrate Mother's Day by giving Mom, and yourself, a subscription to our free newsletter at the website that belongs to this blog: GreenerPenny.com, and enter our giveaway for a $25 organic cosmetics gift certificate! For lists of top green products Mom will love, from personal care to wine, chocolate and fairly traded, sustainably produced clothing and shoes, see my new book, Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth Through Simple, Everyday Choices.

1 comment:

Diane MacEachern said...

Mindy, Thanks for such a comprehensive post on this topic. The real key, of course, is to get everyone driving just a little bit less. Hopefully, the next administration will redirect some attention to ramping up America's mass transit systems.