cafe Notting Hill Amber Davenport

Simply Katy Prints

You can’t have a ‘green car’ but you can have a greener one. Read Cutting Your Car Use. This is a great little book (on recycled paper) with 100 simple tips, to drive less, car-share or give up your car altogether. The author is England’s first traffic reduction consultant who walks most places, uses a folding bike, hires a car now and occasionally uses a taxi. If you own a car, find tips on being a wildlife-friendly driver.

Never leave dogs in (even warm) cars, as the temperature heats up quickly inside (air-conditioning can fail), and can kill in minutes (same for glass conservatories). If you find a dog in a hot car, smash the window and move to a shady area, then use cool (not cold) water as above and immediately call the vet, RSPCA and police (take registration number). You may be charged with criminal damage, but most people who leave dogs have ‘forgotten’ and will not prosecute, they will likely feel terrible. 

tips to be a (slightly greener) driver

  1. If possible, let a mechanic change antifreeze (lethal to pets and wildlife) to avoid spills (use sand or kitty litter to absorb, never mop it). If you do change it yourself, use a funnel (same with oil).
  2. Never wash cars on driveways or at supermarkets, as oily untreated water washes down drains, causing mini oil pills. Instead, use a professional car wash that recycles the water, or use ‘waterless car wash’ brands that clean and polish in one. Use with a plastic-free car sponge. To valet cars, use biodegradable unscented cleaner.
  3. For odours, use a charcoal purifying bagIf you smoke, stop outside the car and use a personal ashtray to extinguish the butt, for safe disposal later on.
  4. If buying a used car, AA has tips on what to watch out for. This includes ‘cut-and-shut (two damaged cars welded together), cloning (replacing number plates) and clocking (adjusting the mileage). Don’t check cars in the rain (water hides dents and scratches) and insist on seeing service history and the V5C vehicle registration document. ETA (Environmental Transport Association) offers vehicle inspection checks (plus eco-friendly insurance/breakdown cover).
  5. Keep your car regularly serviced. Click Mechanic lets you book vetted local mechanics for repairs, services and MOTs. They don’t have high overheads so prices are good.
  6. A clean windscreen is essential for safe driving. To avoid toxic windscreen de-icers, park your car undercover or use a windscreen cover. AutoGlass says you can also park facing east (the sun will defrost the screen before you get up) or rub half an onion on the windscreen the night before (the oil lines the glass to stop freezing – keep onions away from pets).
  7. ‘Eco-friendly tyres’ have less rolling resistance, so reduce fuel consumption by a third and carbon emissions by a quarter. Check your tread regularly with a digital gauge and replace worn treads (that won’t grip in wet weather and leads to heavy fines). Learn how to change a tyre in 10 simple steps. Used car tyres are fire & pollution hazards, so let your mechanic recycle them, they are made into roofing, crash barriers, carpet underlay and playground material. You can donate scrap cars, with money raised from scrap helping your favourite small charity.

the benefits of joining a car-sharing club

London underground Simply Katy Prints

Simply Katy Prints

If you drive less than 10,000 miles a year, car-sharing a private vehicle (used by up to 20 people each day, thus reducing traffic and increasing parking spaces) may be a good idea. Modern companies offer new hybrid cars, with special vehicles for children, pets, disabled travellers etc. You pay an hourly fee and the company pays for the vehicle, MOT, road tax and insurance (some even leave fuel and breakdown cards in the glovebox). It’s a great way to enjoy the freedom of driving your own car now and then, without the hassle of owning one. And also good is you prefer driving alone, to being stuck next to a motormouth for lift-sharing! Co-Wheels is the main social enterprise, with hubs nationwide and a wide choice of cars. It can also set you up with your own community car-share, if someone has a new safe vehicle that could be used. Peer-to-peer car-sharing companies like Turo earns car-owners an average £6000 a year passive income).

Most people’s cars just sit in the drive or on the road for 96% of the time, so it could be that the future is all cars being shared, rather than owned. Car-sharing is popular especially in southern England, often due to the London Congestion Charge. Yet although Luton has more car-sharing members than anywhere, the highest google searches are for Yorkshire, showing there is a huge untapped market.

ideas to solve our car parking problems

Most councils charge for parking (and supermarkets usually limit you to 2 hours). And some airport car parks charge more for you to park your car, than to go on holiday. Likewise, hospitals earn a fortune charging for parking, taking advantage of people visiting sick relatives and friends. A smarter way to get around this is JustPark. This is a popular app used by millions, just find a local person (with a drive or unused office or hotel – say at weekends or out-of-season) and use their space instead. They earn passive income, and you save an average of £30% on parking charges (some people also earn money renting out EV charging spaces). This is also good for wildlife, as using local spaces rather than multi-storey car parks that are lit all night, prevents wildlife wandering towards them (abroad, turtles sometimes go to car parks to lay eggs, mistaking them for the moon).

will everyone eventually drive electric cars?

early electric car Oshay watercolours

Oshay Watercolors (early electric car)

Electric cars are becoming popular, but still too expensive for most people to buy (it’s better to simply join a car-sharing club which uses them – see above). Electric cars have no road tax and fewer maintenance bills, as there is less  to go wrong. A regular service and charging is all you need be concerned about. Electric cars so feel strange at first, but people quickly get used to them, and some companies offer cheaper insurance deals (London drivers can save up to £10K, by avoiding the London Congestion Charge and taking advantage of the Cleaner Vehicle Discount). You also don’ have to worry about wearing plastic gloves at the petrol station! If you’re planning to buy an electric charge, read this EV buying guide.

Studies have found that electric cars are quiet say if driving slowly out of a supermarket car park, but when at full speed, they are around the same noise level (due to tyre noise, not engines). So as long as you drive carefully, they should not cause more accidents than an other vehicle, though some makers are installing alarms to alert pedestrians and wildlife. You can charge electric cars at public charging stations or use Go Zero Electric Car Chargers to charge at home, with solar power (install one for others, to earn an average £5000K passive income).

let’s use animal-friendly license plates!

In the US state of New Jersey, Mutts comic creator Patrick McDonnell has designed the state’s animal-friendly license plates. Using characters from his adorable comic strip, you can swap your present plates for these ones, and sales benefit a local animal welfare fund that funds low-cost spay/neuter projects and encourages adoption of homeless pets in the state). What a great idea over ‘personal number plates’ that don’t really have any reason for helping anyone or anything.

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