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Whether it’s upping our recycling efforts, switching to paperless billing statements or bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, improving our environmental impact can be inspiring. Vehicles contributing to pollution, but a study by researchers at the University of Toronto found that only 25 percent of cars and trucks are causing about 90 percent of the problem, due to factors such as poor maintenance and inefficient driving habits. Here are some eco-friendly driving tips to put into practice year-round for a cleaner, greener planet.

Watch the extra weight: While there are some things to keep in trunk such as an emergency kit, clear out any unnecessary items. Toting around an extra 100 pounds can reduce fuel efficiency. Think about the outside of the car, too. Roof racks increase wind resistance and decrease fuel efficiency by 6 to 27 percent; use a rear-mounted cargo box instead, for a 1 to 5 percent dip.

Don’t idle: Idling uses more fuel than restarting the car does, gives off 80 percent more pollution than when the car is moving and can even come with a fine in some areas. If staying put for a minute or more, turn off the engine.

Observe ozone alert days: Air quality alert days occur when ozone becomes concentrated near the ground, making it difficult to breathe. Emissions from cars can make this worse. On these days in particular, refuel in the evening and avoid gasoline spillage. High temperatures and low wind can quickly convert vapors into ozone pollutants. Faulty or missing gas caps can be the source of gasoline vapors, as well. Make sure the gas cap fits properly and is on all the way.

Keep speed steady within the speed limit: Once reaching more than 50 miles per hour, a car loses fuel efficiency the faster we go. It’s best to drive the speed limit and avoid accelerating quickly. Don’t ride the brakes and use cruise control if possible.

Recycle auto parts: Make sure to either recycle or properly dispose of vehicle-related items like motor oil, oil filters, tires, batteries and fluids when maintaining or repairing the vehicle. There may be ordinances or laws regarding proper disposal of these items. When it comes to recycling, tires can find a second life as synthetic turf, playground surfaces or road embankments, for example.

Keep the car in top shape mechanically: Make sure tires are inflated to their recommended pressure. When they’re underinflated, fuel consumption may increase by as much as 3 percent and are more likely to blow out and potentially cause an accident.

When we follow the maintenance schedule recommended by the dealership, a vehicle will be more fuel-efficient and produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Schedule regular tune-ups to replace air filters, motor oil, tire rotations and more.

 

For more stories like this read Natural Awakenings Dallas-Ft Worth Metroplex magazine at NADallas.com

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