Let’s talk about drive-thrus and idling. (Oh, ugh. I cannot handle spelling through that way. It’s like Krazy Ice Kreem or something. WRONG. Just WROOONG!) Seriously, I think it’s time we sit down and talk about this innocent habit of ours.
It seems simple enough – you want a doubleshot on ice at Starbucks. (Yum. Me, too.) You pull into the drive-thru and order. You idle for a minute waiting, deciding, and ordering. You wait a few more minutes to pull around. Then a few more minutes till you get your drink. Exchange money for caffeine goodness, and you pull out of the lot.
Those five or six (or sometimes MORE. Ugh.) minutes can add up to wasted gas and air pollution. Don’t believe me? Check it out:
The US EPA estimates that for every minute a typical auto engine sits idling it emits 6.6 grams of pollutants such as volatile organic compounds, nitrous oxides, and carbon dioxide. If, over a year, two million drivers—which is a small percentage of US drivers—stopped idling their cars unnecessarily for two minutes just once a week, it would reduce these emissions by over 1,500 TONS.
Some cities have instituted fines for idling cars because of the pollution they cause. So if you’re going to idle for more than a minute, turn that key. Not at a stoplight, though…that could be dangerous – but if you’re listening to the end of a song, finishing a conversation on your cell, or waiting for someone, go ahead and turn off your car. You’ll save gas (read: MONEY!) and keep a little pollution out of the air.
What about drive-thrus? It’s funny – I notice the drive-thru line is usually at least a few cars deep, but there are NO customers inside.* I go in, order, and am back in my car by the time one car gets served in the drive-thru lane. So I save money and time, and cause a bit less pollution. It’s so characteristic of us Americans to not want to get out of our car. (Different story if you have small children. TOTALLY different. I completely understand wanting to stay in your car!)
Maybe you saw my Tweet about the Chinese man I met.
He ranted about Americans being fat because we drive every-freaking-where. We don’t want to walk or bike anywhere. Even to get food from a restaurant. He said we should bike to stay in shape and because “we need to protect the environments.” :) Imagine his adorable accent, and his enthusiasm and concern. Trust me, it was delightful.