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Climate for Action: Reducing your Carbon Footprint on the Road

2009 June 2

About the Author: Loreal Crumbley, a senior at George Mason University, is an intern with EPA’s Environmental Education Division through EPA’s Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP).

There are many ways to reduce your personal impact on climate change. An easy way to decrease your contribution is by reducing your transportation emissions. When we drive we release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. There are many different steps you can take to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to save money!

There are plenty of alternatives to driving our personal vehicles. We can join carpools, which help save energy and produce fewer emissions. My county offers special carpool parking lots and designated highway routes for carpoolers. If you research carpooling in your area, you may find that your county provides benefits for carpool riders. Instead of driving a car you can walk or bike ride to school and work. Since summer is starting, walking or riding a bike also makes it easy to spend more time outside rather than cooped up in your car.

Another way to lessen your impact is to keep your vehicle well serviced. If you keep your car well tuned and follow the manufacturer’s guide to scheduled maintenance, you will produce fewer emissions. Not only will you reduce greenhouse gas emissions but you will have a more fuel-efficient car and it will be more reliable. You should also change air filters regularly and use the recommended motor oil. Having a well tuned engine can reduce fuel consumption. Regularly checking the amount of air in your tires can also decrease your fuel consumption, and the less fuel your vehicle consumes, the less it pollutes the air and the fewer greenhouse gases it emits.

Here are a few tips to becoming an environmental driver:

  • Avoid idling for long periods of time.
  • Turn off engine when sitting or waiting.
  • Reduce weight in your trunk and unload unnecessary items.
  • Be easy on brakes and gas pedal;, driving at moderate speeds uses less fuel.
  • Try smoother accelerations. They pollute less and save fuel.
  • Plan your trips and combine errands to reduce mileage.

For more information on climate change and what you can do while on the road, please visit:

We can all do our part to help reduce climate change. Remember it’s never too late to start new habits! If you haven’t started driving yet, these tips could be helpful for your parents or friends who have their licenses. Spread the word. We all need to work together in this fight to reduce climate change!

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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7 Responses leave one →
  1. James Johnson permalink
    June 2, 2009

    I actually installed a Scan Gauge into my car that allows me to see mpg on the fly (many new cars now do this, but older ones don’t). This has helped my 2003 Toyota Corolla go from 30 mpg to 34 mpg and my 2004 Honda Pilot from 19 mpg to 22 mpg. As long as you pay attention to the way you drive and understand how it affects the mpg it can impact your overall mpg quite a bit.


  2. Johnny R. permalink
    June 2, 2009

    That’s a neat short-term method of conservation, but does it
    compensate for the relentlessly growing number of people who
    want to drive here there and everywhere? If the economy
    gets “back on track” as the President hopes, the number of cars on the road will grow exponentially as the population grows, and all
    those people produce, not only car exhaust, but growing tons of
    garbage that ends up in mountains of landfill around our cities, and
    also in the ocean where the tons of throw-away plastic is turning
    into a slurry that kills all life around it. What can we do about that?

  3. john permalink
    June 2, 2009

    execelent tips to save nature, thanks…but everyone doesn’t follow these things…. i will follow..

  4. Mel permalink
    June 3, 2009

    Unfortunately, for some of us, the “neat short-term methods of conservation” are all we have when it comes to responsible use of automobiles. If you live in a rural area where the nears grocery store is 10 miles or more away you have no choice but drive. Schools are not within walking distance for our children. Public transit does not exist because it is neither feasible nor practical logistically.

    Sometimes small changes are the only options there are.

  5. Johnny R. permalink
    June 4, 2009

    I agree that small changes when activated by millions of people can help save the Earth, but only if public policy and corporate responsibility go along with it. The Earth cannot survive 7, 8, 9, 10 billion hungry people driven by advertising to consume more and more products every year and thus producing more garbage and sewage until the biosphere strangles. We need —

    1. family planning clinics in every neighborhood in every community in every nation.

    2. 100% safe recycling of all waste and garbage.

  6. Charles permalink
    June 5, 2009

    Johnny R, I think you make a really good point. It’s totally true how corporate greed and irresponsibility are a major cause of a lot of the problems on the planet like pollution (and other things too, like, Dick Cheney-style avarice and power struggles that cause the rest of the world to hate America).

    But most people are too dumb or bored to connect their own imaginary “need” based on commercials for fast food, electronics, or other bling, to the causes of our massive problems. People we elect to govern ARE able to make the connection but don’t do anything about it because they want to get money from businesses to get re-elected.

    So here we are.

    President Eisenhower once warned us to beware the industrial-military complex. It’s still true.

  7. Rodney Sumner permalink
    June 14, 2010

    I attained online defensive driving course. The biggest benefit of driving defensively is that it will help you reach your car’s peak fuel efficiency by eliminating frequent stops and rapid acceleration, both of which lower your car’s efficiency drastically.

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