You can’t have a ‘green car’ but you can be a greener driver. And many people prefer to (or have to) drive in a country that does not have the most affordable or best public transport. Until town planners get their acts together, here are some ways to be a greener driver. Or join a car-sharing club instead.
- Cutting Your Car Use is a nice little book by a traffic reduction consultant packed with 100 tips. The author walks and cycles most places, hires a car now and then, and occasionally takes a taxi.
- Find tips to be a wildlife-friendly driver (these include slowing down to scan for wildlife at dawn and dusk especially, using your lights properly, not dropping litter out of car windows and keeping a first aid box and details of your local wildlife rescue to hand.
- Switch your car insurance and breakdown to Environmental Transport Association which also insures your bike at the same time, and uses profits to help campaign for sustainable transport.
greener car maintenance
- Ideally let your mechanic change oil and antifreeze, as both are lethal to pets and wildlife if spilled. Choose antifreeze made with propylene glycol (think P for protection – not pet-safe but safer than ethylene glycol – keep both locked away). Read how to clean up spilled antifreeze.
- Never wash cars in your drive (nor use supermarket car washes) as both send untreated oily water down drains and into the sea, causing mini oil-spills. Due to lack of regulations to filter water, the oily suds also attract thirsty foxes and feral cats. Either use a professional car wash that recycles the water, or buy one of the newer biodegradable waterless car wash brands, which washes and polishes your car at the same time, without scratches. Wipe off in straight lines (with a biodegradable cloth), to avoid swirl marks.
- Replace air fresheners with charcoal purifying bag. Just hang them over the car seat, to absorb smells (safer than essential oils which can harm children, pets and people with allergies).
- Click Mechanic employs local mechanics to service and repair cars at your home, to avoid high prices of renting big showrooms.
switch to re-refined motor oil
Unless driving an electric car, you’ll need motor oil. Use a funnel to avoid spills, but also look in stores for re-refined motor oil (engine oil does not wear it, it just gets dirty). If cleaned to proper standards, it’s just as good and recommended by major car brands. This helps to remove the billions of gallons of oil mined from the earth each year, which harms our seas and rivers, harms marine wildlife and pushes up the cost of energy bills.
Making re-refined motor oil uses 85% less energy. Just one gallon of reclaimed oil produces the same amount of engine oil, as 42 gallons of crude oil. So removes as many greenhouse gases, as it would taking 200,000 cars off the road each year. As the oil is already refined, it has fewer contaminants so starts with a cleaner base, which means less chemicals.