Summer is sneaking up on us and, if you’re like me, you are planning some summer get-a-ways to drive out of town in the upcoming months. Maybe you’re headed up to the mountains to soak in all of that fresh, crisp air, or maybe you’re headed to the beach to enjoy the sound of the waves and the ocean breezes. Wherever you go, a super easy Eco-Habit to adopt this summer is to Go Idle-LESS. What is Idling? Idling is when you leave your car running while not driving. So, Going Idle-LESS means just turning your car off instead of idling. This Everyday Eco-Habit turns out to be one of the most effective ways to create a healthier environment. Simple. Easy. Save the Planet. Done.
Some benefits of Going Idle-LESS:
Waste Less Fuel. Did you know over 12 million gallons of fuel are wasted every day by idling alone?! That is equal to filling up 18 Olympic sized swimming pools every single day. That takes a massive toll on the environment and wastes precious resources. You may have grown up thinking idling wastes less gas than turning your car off and on again. It turns out this a myth and the opposite is true: idling wastes way more gas than restarting the car. That’s right- believe it or not, only 10 seconds of idling uses as much gas as restarting your car. So, experts say if you are planning on idling for more than 10 seconds, turn off your engine. As little as two minutes of idling uses as much fuel as driving one mile! That adds up quick! Especially when the average person idles for 5-10 minutes per day. This means tons of extra gas is wasted and lots of unnecessary emissions are released into the atmosphere.
Healthier air quality (especially for children). By refraining from idling, you can reduce carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other harmful emissions. Children are especially vulnerable to emissions as they take in more air per pound of their body weight. Plus, the exhaust is right at their breathing levels, and is especially high in the drop off line at school. Air pollution can contribute to asthma and other lung and breathing issues in small children. So simply turn off the engine while you wait to pick up your child from school.
Reduce Global warming. Carbon dioxide is one of the main contributors to global warming. Did you know everyday cars in America create roughly 30 million tons of CO2 each year just by idling? If everyday people like you and me stopped idling, it would be similar to taking 5 million vehicles off the road! By simply Going Idle-LESS, YOU are helping to reduce global warming. Want to learn more about global warming and make a difference? Check out the Leonardo Dicaprio Foundation. They are making serious improvements to our earth on a daily basis.
Save Money on Gas. The US Department of Energy estimates over 6 billion gallons of gas are lost to idling every year! That equates to roughly $11 billion of wasted fuel, or about $32 million a day. Depending on the type of engine you have, if you don’t idle, you can save anywhere from $50-$600 on gas per year, not to mention the reduced fuel waste and reduced emissions.
Less damage on your car. Idling can actually contaminate oil and damage your spark plugs! When this happens, even more gas is wasted. What about warming up your car or getting the a/c going? Contrary to popular belief, easing into your drive and resisting revving the engine warms up the engine more efficiently than idling. And it turns out that any maintenance from wear and tear to the battery from constantly restarting your car is nothing compared to the money you would spend on wasting gas! So, simply adopt the Everyday Eco-Habit of Going Idle-LESS. Your wallet and the earth will thank you.
Now that you know why it’s so important for the earth and our health to Go Idle-LESS, I want to make it as easy as possible for you to do something about it. Here are some super easy ways to Go Idle-LESS:
Drive an Idle-LESS car: The best way to go Idle-LESS is to drive an electric, fuel cell, or hybrid vehicle, as they generally do not produce harmful emissions when idling. Check out this link from the US Department of Energy on the benefits of electric vehicles. I will be testing out a few fun ones this month, including an electric Tomberlin from E3 Electric Vehicles– follow along with me on my social!
In your driveway: Google map where you’re going and respond to texts before you start the car.
At the drive thru: Starbucks anyone? Those lines can be brutal. Just park the car and go inside. Have kids in the car? Turn off the engine if you’re going to wait more than 10 seconds.
At the bank: Is it going to take more than 10 seconds to get cash or deposit that check? Then turn off the car.
At the car wash: Put the car in neutral and turn off the engine.
At the school pick up and drop off line: The person behind you can wait to inch up every minute. Want to take it a step further? Adopt Grades of Green’s No Idle Zones t your children’s school. One of the Grades of Green students I was fortunate to mentor even succeeded in getting a Resolution from the California legislature for No-Idle Zones at Every. Single. California. School!
Waiting for the train: Simply turn off the car. I’ve waited for 15 minutes for a big freight train to go by.
Waiting for bridges: “Turn the Key, Be Idle Free!”
Get more involved in Going Idle-LESS. Did you know many states have No Idling Laws in place already, including Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Texas, Vermont, and Washington, D.C? Idle Free California is an organization working to pass regulations to add California to this list. Don’t live in one of these Idle-Free states? Consider working to get a No Idle Law passed in your state! And if you live in California, check out these other organizations working to make your air quality healthier: Coalition for Clean Air, South Coast Air Quality Management, and Clean Air Day.
So, what do you say? Can you Pledge to Go Idle-LESS with me this month? Make your Pledge on my Facebook page Kim Lewand Martin or on my Instagram @kim-ecohabits. If you take my Pledge and live in the South Bay, you will be entered into a raffle to drive a Tomberlin electric vehicle FREE FOR A WHOLE WEEKEND from My Green Friend e3vehicles! Also, by mentioning my blog you can test drive one of E3’s electric vehicle for an hour any time this month.