Two Car Family

Dear Margaret,
We are truly concerned about the environment, but I feel guilty because we run two cars, & don't seem able to manage without them. My husband needs his car for work, while I am a relief teacher. We also have to drive our children to their various schools, because there is no other transport, & then there is weekend sport, & recreation. I can't use unleaded petrol in my car either. Would it help to convert to LP gas?

Did you realise that you can drive exactly the same distance & still reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 40%, just by good housekeeping, & improved driving?

Read the manual for your car!

All these things will optimise your fuel consumption, as well as the life of the car, before you even set out.

When driving, observe speed limits & road signs. 'Drive' well ahead, & slow down in plenty of time, rather than driving up to a situation, then stamping on the brake. Know your cruising speed & don't exceed it on the open road. Avoid braking hard, even in an emergency. If you don't know why, invest in an advanced driving course!

Look out for really green road-users - those on bicycles or skate-boards, and give them plenty of room. They not only have as much right to use the road as you have, but are doing a great job in reducing greenhouse emissions.

When driving in unknown territory, check your route before starting out. Plan all journeys, & use common sense & lateral thinking to further reduce fuel consumption & wear & tear on the car & your nerves.

For example, rather than dropping your children at the school gate, see if you can find a place which is well away from the gate, but where they don't have to cross a road to reach it & you can continue your journey without unnecessary manouvering. Look for a route with left-hand turns (right-hand if you drive on the right in your country) rather than waiting to turn against the traffic at busy intersections, even if you have to travel a little further. When shopping, park in one place & use a trolley. Make a shopping list, so you don't forget things & have to go back for them. Turn off the engine while waiting for someone or having a chat. Keep a log-book for the car

Certainly LP gas produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than petrol, but LP gas conversions are a subject for specialists. Even they can be unreliable, as a recent Australian experience shows - a car manufacturer gave incorrect information when consulted about the suitability of one of their own models for LP gas conversion, with disastrous results. Consult Choice or your National consumer organisation, motoring organisations, & a trusted mechanic before making any decisions about converting to LP gas.

Using unleaded petrol will help to reduce the amount of lead pollution in our environment over time, but other additives thought necessary to protect your engine also contaminate the air. So the bottom line is: REDUCE YOUR FUEL CONSUMPTION.

In addition to the strategies outlined above for reducing pollution without reducing overall mileage, consider the following possibilities:

While the private car remains one of the major environmental hazards of our age, western society is structured around it's use. This makes it very difficult to do without it - the whole family would need to be really committed. But by using some, if not all of the positive strategies outlined above, you can certainly reduce the impact your vehicles have on our environment.


Note: In researching & answering questions about earthwise living, Margaret offers information, opinion, & personal experience, but no quick fixes! Readers should evaluate these offerings in the context of their own situations; they are suggestions, *not* recommendations. Any responsibility for their implementation rests *solely* with the reader.

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