Author: Liam Taylor
With the holidays just around the corner, many Australians will be gearing up to hit the road to attend parties, travel to their favourite holiday spot or just the local beach or national park. Aussies love doing road trips at this time of year, but did you know that driving contributes more than 80% of carbon monoxide emissions in urban Australia? Or that the most common form of microplastic ending up in our oceans is from automotive tyres?
By preparing your car ahead of time and making a few small changes to the way you drive and treat your car, you will not only help the environment but also save fuel, money and emissions, reduce waste and improve safety. Here are some tips for better holiday motoring.
Just like when looking at waste, avoiding road travel should always be the first choice where possible. Public transport might not be as readily available on public holidays, but it never stops in urban centres and with a little planning ahead-of-time isn’t likely to slow you down too much. If that’s not an option for where you are going, be sociable and share the trip with your friends and family. You’ll not only cut down on vehicle emissions by traveling together but also enjoy the drive a lot more!
Vehicles that are running efficiently burn less petrol, leak less oil, emit less carbon monoxide and other polluting gases, wear out tyres slower and, most importantly, last longer! That’s why when you are planning your road trip these holidays the first thing to do is to service your vehicle. Simple steps like changing the oil, removing unnecessary and heavy items from the car and keeping your tyres at the correct air pressure will also ensure the vehicle is running at optimum efficiency and you are having less impact.
A really simple way to reduce the amount of waste your family or group of friends produce on a road trip is to bring your own reusable coffee cups, water bottles, cutlery and bags. They are easy bits and pieces to overlook, but once you’re on the road the waste from pitstops and lunch breaks can add up fast. And it might just be the easiest tip on this least, since almost everyone will have these items lying around at home. For the unavoidable waste you collect on the way, check RecyclingNearYou to find out how to recycle them locally.
Efficient route planning can have a big impact on your fuel economy and, thus, your impact on the environment in terms of emissions. While the most efficient route might seem obvious, this can actually vary based on a number of factors. Flat routes are more fuel efficient than mountainous ones, while highway driving is more fuel efficient than driving on congested city streets. The most fuel-efficient route is usually the one that most avoids heavy commuter traffic (which Google Maps or Apple Maps can help you with), busy city driving, and hills. The other advantage of planning your route ahead of time is it saves you the fierce arguments when a wrong turn is inevitably taken!
There are also some simple steps you can take while in the driving seat to reduce the stress on your car and ensure its running as efficiently as possible. For example, since moving between gears is the most fuel-intensive engine process, anticipating the flow of traffic and accelerating and braking smoothly can have a big impact on how much fuel you are using. The same thing can be said of air-conditioning use, which dramatically increases the strain on your vehicle’s engine. Finally, turning off your engine while idle (which some modern cars now do automatically) will reduce the amount of fuel used over the course of your trip.
For more eco-tips check out Planet Ark’s Holiday Hacks for Living Large with a Small Footprint.
Liam is Planet Ark's Communications Coordinator. Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia.