Way back in 2013 we looked at how you could clean up your environmentally inspired driving choices. Let’s face it however – since then there’s been so many changes to ecologically centred science, technology and the car industry, it’s time to update our thinking. How can you be a greener driver in 2020?
One of the buzzwords of the last decade has been democratisation. How can we bring back property to the people and share our resources? In the automotive industry this trend has been reflected in the growth of car clubs up and down the country. From publicly endorsed and advertised clubs to private groups composed of friends or relatives – if you drive less than 6,000 miles a year this could save you in excess of £3K. That’s the money side of things. Then factor in the ecological cost of production, maintenance and upkeep, and you’ll see how you’ll be doing the planet a favour by simply not having your own car.
A famous internet meme that was jumped on by the media in 2015 shows exactly how people have used cars over the last decade. This individualised manner lacks efficiency and comes with a high energy cost – and therefore packs a big impact on the environment.
See if you can fill any spare seats in the car. Ask around at work or even talk to your neighbours. You can ask them for fuel money to go towards your costs. With a temporary car insurance policy, it’s even possible to let trusted friends and work colleagues drive your car to take the pressure off. And if you’re struggling to find people to fill those spaces try linking up with the other 700K people plus making a difference with Liftshare.
Work from Home
Employers are increasingly becoming aware of the fact that workers are more productive when they can work in their own time and avoid the daily commute. Have a chat with your boss – not only will cutting down on your daily journey ensure that you’re fresher and more engaged with your job, but it also helps reduce the amount of emissions coming out of your exhaust as you travel to and from work. And that’s good for the environment in anyone’s book.
Clean that DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter)
Since 2009 EU regulations have required smoky, sooty diesel powered cars to have a diesel particulate filter (DPF) to cut down on the amount of harmful particles in the exhaust. However, the DPF does need to be regularly regenerated to ensure that your car is working efficiently. If it becomes too clogged, then the vehicle will use too much fuel making it less green. Read your manufacturer’s instructions and perform regular runs to regenerate the DPF, keeping it clean and ensuring your car is functioning at peak performance.
Buy Small – Hire Large
This is a relatively new trend. Buy the smallest car you can for your urban needs. If you have enough space for the kids and the shopping then you’re onto a winner – and the environmental costs of production and running this vehicle are also minimised versus a great big saloon, coupe or estate car. Then when you need to go on holiday to Wales or the Peak District – simply hire an estate from your local car hire centre.
When You Stop – Turn it Off
Did you know that simply sitting in traffic with the engine idling can burn litres of fuel? Many modern vehicles now have systems that turn your engine off when you stop. If your car doesn’t have this technology then with a little care, attention and thought, you can simply turn off the engine yourself, if you know you’re in for a wait. It’s a simple equation – less fuel used equals less emissions, which is good news for our planet’s atmosphere.
Offset Your Carbon Footprint
Make your driving truly carbon neutral by evaluating the amount of carbon your driving uses on an annual basis and then working with an agency that can offset this with other activities. Support non-profit organisations that plant trees and restore green spaces in the UK and abroad, creating the fauna necessary to help suck out your share of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Whilst the automotive industry is aware that there is increasing pressure to take on board environmental concerns, we have seen with high profile cases like the VW emissions scandal that there is a fair amount of pushback from manufacturers.
Ensure that a strong green message is sent to the corporate HQ when you’re buying a car. Ask the right questions about emissions and production processes and refuse to buy a car if it doesn’t meet your standards. And if you want to go one step further then send letters and emails to manufacturers telling them why you have changed brand and won’t be buying their vehicles anymore.
Check the Emissions
When you’re purchasing a car – you should be able to see published figures that show how much CO2 and other particles are emitted by the vehicle. With the wealth of vehicles available now in the modern automotive marketplace it should be simple enough to find a car that ticks all your boxes – and is relatively green when compared to some of the competition out there.
Trade In for Second Hand
Not only is opting to purchase a second hand car good for your wallet or purse, but it’s also a greener option too. New cars take a huge amount of energy to produce, deliver, advertise and sell – all of which can be saved when you pop down to your local second hand dealer. Of course you’ll want to make sure you avoid buying a car that’s going to break down and cost you and the planet more in spares and repairs – but with a little nous you can get a good vehicle that’s the right environmental choice too.
Petrol or Diesel
The lesser of two evils? Both are bad for the environment given the range of hybrids and electrical cars that are now flooding onto the market. However, if you have to choose between them, then it’s widely recognised that diesels emit less CO2 even though this fuel is dirtier and comes with more particle emissions. Why? Because of the Euro 6 Environmental Rating. Vehicles that meet this regulation have special filters that remove nearly all of these harmful particles.
Look at Cleaner Fuel Choices
And there’s plenty of them, too. Consider moving to the following tech when you buy your next car:
- Electric – with zero emissions what’s not to like? Yes, they have a limited range and that’s more than OK if you’re an urban driver. And you can get subsidies from the government to help you purchase.
- Hybrid – using a mix of battery and fuel. When they run around they charge up the battery, which can then kick in when there’s enough juice to run the vehicle. Cleaner, greener and less pollution than a standard engine.
- LPG – not as great as a hybrid or electric car. Liquid petroleum gas powered engines are however cleaner than petrol and diesel power.
- Biofuels – which use old cooking oil and plant crops as an alternative to fossil fuels. Many existing engines can already cope with a mix of biofuels and fossil fuels.
- Fuel cells – this tech is likely to become available in the next decade. It uses hydrogen to generate electricity with water as the only emission. This is expected to be the green vehicle fuel of the future.
An Important Message
Sometimes it can seem like we’re fighting a futile battle with the environment, but that’s not the case. Younger generations have never been more concerned about the state and the future of our planet. It might be a cliché – and that’s because the phrase is true – if everyone does a little to help the environment then the big changes we need are truly within our grasp.