Driving Softly on the Earth

August 12, 2008 at 10:30 pm Leave a comment

Written for the Sunrise Guide – 2009 Edition

Take a deep breath. Forget the days of speeding up and harsh braking.  Turn the car off when parked more than 10 seconds.  Smell the clean air.  Know your engine needs only 1 minute of warm-up on winter mornings (really!).  Check tire pressures every month.  Put it on your calendar in purple ink.  Drive a mellow 55-60 mph on the highway.  Bless your wallet and the atmosphere.

Sunrise Guide logoMake a date with your dash.  The lights and gauges are your friends.  Learn what they mean and shut your car down quickly at oil or temperature warnings.  Make coffee and read your owner’s manual cover to cover.  Do the maintenance required.  Thank the manual and your dash for steering you clear of the high financial and carbon costs of ruining your car before its time.

Bring cookies to your auto shop. Ask about their environmental practices.  Ask about their families.  Think quality over cash – a shop that charges a cheap labor rate doesn’t have extra money to dispose of hazardous materials properly.  Be kind to your mechanic; remember s/he is human (and in Maine makes $13/hour on average.)  But reject, “Don’t worry about your check engine light being on,” for an answer.  Find a shop that will diagnose and tend to whatever emissions faults have triggered the light.

Own a car that gets at least 30 mpg.  Combine trips.  Grab a backpack and walk wherever you’re headed.  Ride a bike. Take pleasure in being outside.  Catch the bus.  Look out the window; read; eavesdrop on fun conversations.  Carpool with family, friends, a neighbor.  Carpool to meetings, work, church.  Enjoy learning about other folks.  Experiment with becoming a one-car (or one-less-car) household.  Feel empowered by your resourcefulness, save bundles of cash – all in caring for the planet.

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