Convenient Truths: Driving Your Way to Lower Carbon Emissions (and a Great Contest Video)


The video submissions to Treehugger and Seventh Generation's Convenient Truths contest continue to roll in, and now you can even take a look at what others treehugging videographers are sending us. Will one of these submissions earn a portion of the over $30,000 in prizes? Hard to say... we haven't seen your video yet! Keep in mind that the timing of your submission might matter also, as you may be able to score a phone conversation with contest judge Daryl Hannah if you are one of the first folks to submit a video(s) in 2007!A few readers reacted strongly to our notice of "hypermiler" Wayne Gerdes and his, shall we say, unconventional methods of achieving really high fuel efficiency. These extreme methods certainly are dangerous, but much more safe and realistic methods of driving your car (whether it's a high efficiency model or not) can bring your miles per gallon up significantly. Take a drive, and bring along a friend with a video camera or mobile phone to record you using some of these practices:

  • Ease up on the brakes: hard braking will significantly lower your fuel efficiency. In fact, one European study found that "jackrabbit start-and-stop" driving in the city increased fuel consumption by 37%. Start braking lightly well before a stop, and look for routes you can take with fewer stop signs and traffic lights.
  • Slow down: You lose 7% of your fuel efficiency for every 5 mph you go over 60. Keep in mind that those higher speeds will gain you little in terms of time saved (often its minutes, or even seconds).
  • Avoid idling: if you've got to stop for more than a few seconds, turn the car off.
  • Keep your tires inflated: make sure that you know the manufacturer's recommendation for tire pressure (usually found on the driver's-side door, or in the owner's manual), and check them monthly.
Interestingly enough, many of these recommendations come from Wayne Gerdes himself (from his sidebar in the print edition of Mother Jones). For more information, check out the US Department of Energy's site for driving and maintenance tips.Keep those videos coming! Remember, we're not looking for professional polish; anyone who can catch a two minute clip on camera or on your cellcan enter the Convenient Truths contest. Once your video(s) is ready, don't wait to upload them -- the entry period ends on February 28!

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