GOOD

Spring Cleaning: Commute Your Driving Sins

If you can’t ditch your car, you’re not alone. But there are things you can do to clean up your gas usage.

This challenge is in partnership with Levi's ®


Global warming is getting worse, and so are our commutes. The 2010 American Community Survey showed that in 2009 the number of commuters driving alone increased half a percentage point to 76.6 percent, a total of about 100 million people. Meanwhile, the percentage who took public transportation slightly decreased to 4.9 percent.

Of course, you already know some of the easiest ways to help curb pollution. Carpool. Take the bus. Take the metro. Bike to work at least once a week and get fit in the process. (The first few days on the road can be intimidating, but follow a few simple tips and confidence will follow.) Or make your other car an electric bike. Walk, and enjoy some spring air. Our December human infographic on traffic in Los Angeles showed how much better traffic flow would become if just 3 percent of the city’s drivers switched to taking public transportation or biking to work.

If you can’t ditch your car, you’re not alone. There are 808 cars for every 1000 people in the U.S, second only to Monaco. Transportation counts for 28 percent of America’s total energy use, and the average car only travels 22.5 miles per gallon. Twenty percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States come from transportation. And one gallon of gasoline takes nearly 13 gallons of water to produce, so you may be inadvertently using more than 500 gallons of water every time you fill up. But there are things you can do to clean up your car’s gas usage:

  • Usually, the older your car is, the less fuel-efficient it is. If you keep your speed at 55 or below, your car won’t have to work as hard and you’ll save gas. (Are you really in a hurry to get to work, anyway?) If you’re waiting for a train to pass or are stuck behind a police blockage, turn off your engine. Avoid sudden stops or quick revs of your engine. And make sure your car is up to date as far as installing clean air filters and getting regular maintenance and tune-ups. Lastly, keep your tires fully inflated; being low on air can be a huge gas suck.
  • If you’re ready to switch to a greener car, the Environmental Protection Agency’s green vehicle guide can help you find the right one for you, or evaluate how earth-friendly your current car is. Or check out greencars.org for an extensive list of vehicles rated by environmental standards. The Toyota Prius tops the list, traveling 51 mpg, followed by the Honda Insight and the Scion IQ. Electric cars only make up a tiny fraction of vehicles on the road in America, but the Mitsubishi I-Miev electric car won the top spot for greenest vehicle of 2012.
  • April isn’t just Spring Cleaning Month, it’s also—who knew—National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, according to the Department of Transportation. Texting or talking while driving means more accidents, which means more rubbernecking, slower traffic and wasted gas for the rest of us. So, a basic way to clean up your commute is simply to focus on the task at hand.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Molbot

To learn more about how you can save water every day, click here and take the Water<Less Challenge.

Articles

When former Pittsburgh Steelers' center Mike Webster committed suicide in 2002, his death began to raise awareness of the brain damage experienced by NFL football players. A 2017 study found that 99% of deceased NFL players had a degenerative brain disease known as CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Only one out of 111 former football players had no sign of CTE. It turns out, some of the risks of traumatic brain injury experienced by heavily padded adults playing at a professional level also exist for kids with developing brains playing at a recreational level. The dangers might not be as intense as what the adults go through, but it can have some major life-long consequences.

A new PSA put out by the Concussion Legacy Foundation raises awareness of the dangers of tackle football on developing brains, comparing it to smoking. "Tackle football is like smoking. The younger I start, the longer I am exposed to danger. You wouldn't let me smoke. When should I start tackling?" a child's voice can be heard saying in the PSA as a mother lights up a cigarette for her young son.

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

On Tuesday morning, President Trump tweeted about some favorable economic numbers, claiming that annual household income is up, unemployment is low, and housing prices are high.

Now, just imagine how much better those numbers would be if the country wasn't mired in an economy-killing trade war with China, bleeding out trillion-dollar-a-year debts, and didn't suffer from chaotic leadership in the Oval Office?

At the end of tweet, came an odd sentence, "Impeach the Pres."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics

October is domestic violence awareness month and when most people think of domestic violence, they imagine mostly female victims. However, abuse of men happens as well – in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. But some are taking it upon themselves to change all that.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

At this point most reasonable people agree that climate change is a serious problem. And while a lot of good people are working on solutions, and we're all chipping in by using fewer plastic bags, it's also helpful to understand where the leading causes of the issue stem from. The list of 20 leading emitters of carbon dioxide by The Guardian newspaper does just that.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via International Labour Organization / Flickr and Michael Moore / Facebook

Before the release of "The Joker" there was a glut of stories in the media about the film's potential to incite violence.

The FBI issued a warning, saying the film may inspire violence from a group known as the Clowncels, a subgroup of the involuntarily celibate or Incel community.

Incels an online subculture who believe they are unable to attract a sexual partner. The American nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center describes them as "part of the online male supremacist ecosystem" that is included in its list of hate groups.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture