Going Green: It's Not As Tough As Leaping, Like This Leprechaun

March 17, 2009

We're not sure how you may be celebrating St. Patrick's Day--a few green beers, some corned beef and cabbage, a healthy serving of self-loathing or all of the above. But in your car you can wear the green every day, just by doing some simple things.

While the world wrestles with sustainable evening wear, reusable toilet tissue, and biodiesel made out of coffee grounds, it's clear to TheCarConnection that they're missing a step. Right now, what the world needs are easy ways to cut down on imported energy--not ways to make the whole effort seem ridiculous.

Truth is, a lot of you are overlooking the basics of getting green behind the wheel. From buying a smaller car, to driving more gently, reducing your personal part of America's security and environmental burden can be pretty simple and painless.

That in mind, here's TheCarConnection.com's ten tips for greening up your car the easy way. Take a look at this fab poster, which you can feel free to print out and post on your office bulletin board. Or, the least-liked co-worker's head. Or make postcards and stick them under the wipers of HUMMERs in the parking lot, as if those poor bastards haven't had enough. (And if you're keen on it, you can take a look at the Aptera stuff posted by our fledgling green-car sites, GreenCarReports.com and AllCarsElectric.com.)

1) Park it when you don't need it. You can always walk to the mammoth coffee vendor of your choice. They're, like, every 500 feet.

2) Lighten your load. Don't pack the truck with a pallet of travertine and grout. We know you're not serious about DIY, anyway. The lighter your car is, the less fuel it will quaff.

3) Park in the shade. Heat is the enemy of a cool car, as it is for iPods and Chapstick. A shady parking spot will cut down on the need to use air conditioning, and the chance you'll lose your fingerprints on entry.

4) Plan your trips wisely. There's probably another Kroger on your way home, instead of the one across town with the drive-through pharmacy, right?

5) Pump 'em up. Make sure your tires are at ideal air pressure. A well-inflated tire reduces wasted friction with the road, which means it lives longer and requires less energy from the car to keep it rolling.

6) Wait for the oil-change light to yell uncle. Many modern cars have oil-life indicators that buzz, bling or brighten when it's time to swap oil. The 3000-mile interval? What, you still use a fax machine, too?

7) Idle not, lest ye be judged. Your car's starter can handle more than one ignition a day. There's no need to leave it running while your carpool buddy finishes off another round of Halo 3. Some extreme greenies even do it at any stop light. Stop-start technology's already here on hybrids and it's coming to ordinary cars, too--why not be a trailblazer?

8) If you can stand it, use a drive-through brushless car wash. Washing your car at home uses lots of fresh, clean water that's better saved for scrubbing your nether regions. Car washes recycle gray water and use less of it.

9) Leave the remote start off. This new option helps get car up to temperature--but it's ripe for abuse. Turning it on, and then getting into your WaterPik regimen, is a no-no. Park the car inside your garage instead and deal with minor butt frost. Be a man, for God's sake. Or a woman. It's really your choice.

10) Pick a more fuel-efficient car in the first place. Don't get angry with the climate-change yippies--beat them at their own game by choosing something more miserly when you shop for your next car. Save the dollars, spare the Army--and if the planet comes along for the ride, all the better.

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