- Green Minute
- Green Campuses
- Green Media
- Contact Us
Often the drive through seems like the ‘smarter’ decision. But let’s face it, either way you’re going to be waiting for your food. And does it really take that much longer to park and walk in? If the drive through has a long line, going in might even save you time.
But the biggest reason to park your car is that the drive through can actually cost you a lot of additional money.
Why? This is simply because when you are waiting in the drive through your car is unnecessarily idling.
Of course, the drive through is not the only place where cars can be found idling. Often times, people will let their cars idle when they are waiting to pick someone up from school or practice. Or in the winter people will go turn on their car and let it idle to warm up.
Did you know that for every 10 minutes you idle, roughly .1 gallons of gasoline is consumed? (Of course it varies depending on the automobile). This creates a corresponding 40 ounces of CO2 emissions.
As a result, idling can really make a dent in your pocket and cause some serious harm to the environment.
What you need to know
There is no fancy tech-savvy solution for this one. Simply idle less.
The drive through is a perfect opportunity for this. In the 3 and a half minutes it takes to wait in the drive through, you could save 13 ounces of CO2 from unnecessarily entering the atmosphere.
Furthermore, there is an added health benefit to parking your car and simply walking into the restaurant. We sit in chairs all day for work. Why subject yourself to that cramped position for any longer than necessary. Get outside! If it’s wintertime, enjoy that quick little sting of the cold before retreating into the restaurant’s warmth. If it’s the summer, you’ll appreciate the store’s AC all the more.
Get up and walk in for your food. Movement also helps stimulate proper metabolism. This way, you can munch away and know that you are processing your food more effectively.
As noted earlier, idling is a constant consumer of gasoline. In a world where the prices at the gas pump keep going up, who wants to be wasting this resource?
If you go through the drive through 5 times a week, idle your car to pick up your kids in line, and warm your car up for 2 minutes every morning, you waste almost a gallon of gas a week on going nowhere.
That’s 4 dollars a week in many places. For those kinds of prices, you could buy an additional lunch!
Not to mention, the idling during this time would have released roughly 3 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. For the mathematically amused, that’s 12 quarter-pounders worth of weight! (Cheese excluded)
There are many cases of idling for businesses with any type of transportation fleet. Whether your company drops flowers, runs a generator in the basement, or is an international delivery service, the opportunities for idling are countless.
Make it a company wide policy to turn the car off when people run quick errands.
What is the purpose of letting your car idle? If you consider it for a moment, there are very few reasons why this would be necessary.
It is a fallacy that starting the car takes up more gas than leaving it on for a few minutes. In fact, for most cars the ‘gas cost’ of starting the vehicle is equivalent to less than 20 seconds of idling.
Idling the car in the winter is actually not a very effective way to warm it up. With modern car engines, only 30 seconds of idling before driving will warm the car sufficiently. That’s about the time it takes for you to put your stuff down and click in the seatbelt.
Idling in any other season allows you to sit in a chair and listen to the radio, an activity that most cars allow you to do without the engine on anyway.
Think about it
Decreasing the time you spend idling reduces the amount of money you are spending on gas and reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions your car is producing.
It’s just another easy way to make you and the environment happy.
So turn off your car and smile.
by Tamara Perreault and Keith Heyde
Tamara and Keith are of Bowdoin College and Columbia University respectively. The two started a biotech and environmental consulting start up Abstract Algae over the summer of 2011. For more information, please contact Keith or Tamara at email@example.com.