Improve Your Driving Habits

Smog, global warming, water pollution - driving can leave a lot of damage in the rear view mirror. When in doubt, drive less. But when you absolutely have to drive, do the planet a solid and offset your carbon.


The following words of wisdom are adapted from the David Suzuki Foundation and Recycle Nation




Walk: If you live within a half-mile of your destination and the weather is decent, why not walk to it instead of getting in your car? Fringe benefit: Not only will you be helping the environment, but you will also be doing something good for your health. By walking, you will also see things you may never have seen in your car. Plus, it is a great chance to interact with others. 

Bicycle: If you are within a mile or two to your destination and you feel it is too far to walk, you might considerer hopping on your bicycle. Fringe benefit: Bicycling has some of the same health and social benefits as walking, but provides you a bigger travel range. Plus, it does not emit a single molecule of greenhouse gas! 

Take the bus or train: A bus can carry around 50 people, give or take, depending on its size. So, taking the bus can decrease the amount of individual automobiles on the road by up to 50! Because a train can carry so many more people, it has an even larger effect. Also, there are efforts underway to eliminate or greatly decrease the emissions associated with buses and trains, with a move toward natural gas, hydro power and electric buses and trains. Fringe benefit: Taking public transit is also is a great way to meet new people and strike up friendship just by virtue of sitting next to them on a bus or train. 

Carpool: Though carpooling does not have as great an effect on decreasing the negative impacts of car usage, it does help take cars off the road. Why drive to work with empty seats when you can give someone a ride and help the environment while you’re at it? Fringe benefit: Carpooling is a great way to get to know other people at your work and in your neighborhood! 

Telecommute: If you can negotiate a day or a few days where you can work from home instead of commuting to work, you could decrease your vehicle miles traveled significantly, especially if you live far from your workplace. Fringe benefit: Telecommuting might also decrease your stress, as you won’t have to deal with the traffic on the way to and from work, and can be comfortable at your home office, getting some work done instead. 

Live close to your work ( easier said than done these days !!): The best way to decrease your vehicle miles traveled and your polluting potential is to live close to where you work. If you live within walking or biking distance, then you have it made. But, even if you still need to drive to work but move closer than you might have been, you will be helping yourself and the environment. Fringe benefit: Don’t forget the money you will save on gas and wear and tear on your car if you move closer to work! Decreasing your vehicle miles traveled is an excellent way to help the environment, and could also be a way to improve your quality of life, as demonstrated by the various fringe benefits to alternative modes of transportation! 


Change the oil: Frequently changing your oil is one of the best ways to keep your engine in top condition. Your owner's manual will tell you what type of oil to use and how often it needs to be changed. 

Maintain the mechanical systems: Unmaintained mechanical systems can affect fuel performance. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for engine, cooling and ignition system, brake, drivetrain and emission control system checks. 

Check your tires: Operating a vehicle with just one tire under-inflated by 6 psi (40 kPa) can reduce the life of the tire by 6,000 miles and increase the vehicle's fuel consumption by three per cent. Check your tire pressure monthly, and on days when the temperature has dropped significantly. Rotating tires also helps prolong their life and improves fuel economy. For most vehicles, tires should be rotated every 6,000 miles— about twice a year

Often we will take car trips without thinking. We are a habitual species by nature, and sometimes need to stop and think what other options we might have.

Tom Burgess