by Tao Oliveto, Raleigh, NC
Spring has arrived – watch the idling begin. Idling cars are heavy on my mind again – yesterday I spent an agonizing 10+ minutes at a bank drive-through (I was on my bike) – surrounded by exhaust fumes, thinking there must be a better way! By popular demand, I’m re-posting the facts and figures regarding the environmental impact of idling cars. If you didn’t get to these links previously, make sure to take a read.
I have eco-peeves (like most people these days). My ongoing biggie? Idling cars. I often see cars idling in parking lots or street side while drivers talk on cell phones or eat lunch. I’ve even seen people napping in cars with the engine running – in a closed garage, you’d be dead, so do the math. Is this about some ill-perceived comfort, a bad habit, or just another way to isolate ourselves from each other? (Sorry, defrosting the windshield this way is just as bad – I grew up in MN and scraping is a way of life).
So, I made an eco-pledge a couple years back to stop the idling madness – at least that in my immediate vicinity. I decided to politely and pointedly ask/suggest/plead/beg drivers to stop idling. Although I always try to judge situations according to my inner conflict meter, most of my experiences have been surprisingly pleasant. In fact, yesterday, I waved at the driver of an idling SUV (yes, he was talking on his cell phone). He rolled down his window and after saying hello, I pointed out that if he turned off his car, he would pollute less. He thanked me and cut the engine. I even happened to run into him later and we had a friendly conversation about creating new green habits.
Turning off an idling car may seem like a small way to cut down on pollution, compared to, say, shutting down a coal plant. Even the latest IPCC Report states that the changes we need to make to keep CO2 out of the atmosphere must be “deep and quick” and that climate change has a huge “procrastination penalty”. Yet, small changes made by many people can make a big impact and spread awareness (change a light bulb lately, anyone? ). Maybe we need to form support groups to help us change our wasteful habits – “Hello, my name is Sally and I’m an idler…” Whatever it takes, we can help each other shift perceptions and make big change happen if we’re willing to speak out.
I certainly didn’t say it first, but – “If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”
Got an eco-peeve? Take a chance, make a change, create a future.