Friday, November 5, 2010

This Week I Will Drive Less

One Change. For One Week.
Week 2 

What to start with?
The idea is to try a small change for a week and see how it goes. I’d like to start with something important. I’d like to start with something big. But that’s not the idea. I need to start with something manageable. Small and manageable. So, how about global warming? This is actually a good beginning because while the problems are huge, this week’s change is very simple. Drive less. This week I will use my car less. I will get out and enjoy the crisp fall weather more.

Why drive less?
“Motor vehicles are responsible for almost a quarter of annual US emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the primary global-warming gas. The US transportation sector emits more CO2 than all but three other countries' emissions from all sources combined.” 
-Union of Concerned Scientists

How will I make a difference?
When I was younger there was a summer I decided not to use my car within about a 30 mile radius. At the time, I lived in San Francisco, at the top of Twin Peaks so this was pretty ambitious. I was also in pretty good shape back then – and great shape by the end of that summer. Now as a middle-aged mom I’m trying to figure out how to use my car less and it seems so much harder than that summer years ago. I already walk my son to school and my daughter walks with friends. Well, mostly – there’s definitely room for improvement. Like, we probably won’t melt if we walk in the rain. And maybe we could leave the car home for after-school pick ups when we’re going straight home. So, my plan for this week is to be more conscious of when I really need my car, to walk or bike when I can and to follow the other suggestions listed below.

Excerpts from:

"How to Maximize Your Vehicle’s Fuel Economy"

How you drive and take care of your vehicle affects its fuel economy and emissions levels. Here are simple tips to reduce the environmental impact of your vehicle today.

Drive less
Driving as little as possible is the best way to reduce the environmental impact of your transportation needs. Link errands, carpool, walk, bike, or use mass transit whenever possible.

Drive moderately.
High-speed driving and jack-rabbit starts increase both fuel use and emissions.
Check your tires.
Properly inflated and aligned tires saves fuel by reducing drag. Also, for your next set of tires, consider getting low rolling resistance (LRR) tires. LRR tires reduce rolling resistance by 10 percent and can improve gas mileage by one to two percent.
Be weight-conscious.
Don’t carry around items you don’t need. For every 100 pounds of weight in your vehicle, fuel economy decreases by one to two percent. Also, put items in your trunk instead of on a roof rack to reduce drag.
Don't let your vehicle idle for more than a minute.
Letting your engine idle for more than a minute burns more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it.
Limit air conditioning, which consumes fuel.
At lower speeds, open the windows. At higher speeds, use your fan as open windows create drag.

For the full article, go to:
Other Useful Links:
General information on global warming:

Union of Concerned Scientists


National Center for Bicycling & Walking

EPA green vehicle guide

Tikkun olam means, in its most basic form, repairing the world. It is an ancient term from long before we worried about carbon emissions or mercury in our fish. It promotes the idea that we are the stewards of our planet and we that must be constant and vigilant in our responsibility. And not only must we take care of the earth and seas and creatures, but we have to fix what is broken. And this is our job for as long as we are on this planet.


  1. Oh, did I mention my family is coming along for this ride? (Or lack thereof.) I’ll let you know how it goes during the week.

  2. Sara Nealy said ...

    This action reminds me of how life was and could be again, if we act as someone in a small village. In a village - or small town - people are more focused on sharing resources, or at least they used to be. It certainly is the case on an island; I just moved here from Hawaii Island (a.k.a. "the Big Island ," and there, like a small town, people do think about limited resources or the cessation of the flow of resources. Fuel being one.

    What all of this points to is sustainability: living in a way that maximizes and shares resources. It is more than environmental activism, it is sensitivity to the very real truth that our resources ARE limited. This is, for me, a very interesting conversation.