It doesn’t have to be entirely bad for the environment though. In fact a bit of clever re-thinking about how and when you use your car can make a huge difference.
1. Share a lift
Not only will it help the environment, it’ll save you loads too. There are bound to be plenty of people making a similar commute or school run to you, so team up and split the driving, and the costs. Lift sharing can be informally organised of course, but if you can’t find people you know making the same journeys as you its worth checking out Liftshare. And if you’re out in the sticks, there’s Village Car Share.
Selling your gas guzzler and getting a smaller and more economical car might require quite a bit of effort, but will save you shed loads of money in the long term and be much better for the environment. Not only will a smaller car be more fuel efficient and save you loads on petrol costs, it’ll also be much cheaper to insure too.
3. Consider a hybrid
If you are considering downsizing or changing your car, a hybrid could be a great option. Now much more reasonably priced than five years ago, and with loads more on the second-hand market now too, these clever cars can switch between their electric engine and petrol engine – using much less fuel with the petrol engine, and creating no emissions whatsoever with the electric engine.
4. Use a car club
If you want to take things a step further, you can ditch the car altogether and join a car club instead. Zipcar is one of the largest, charges an annual membership fee of £59.50, then you can drive a car from as little as £5 an hour. Even if you use it very regularly, pay-as-you-go driving often costs much less than owning you own car when you take into account all the other associated costs. And if you have to pay each time you use it, you’ll think much more carefully about those shorter journeys and opt for public transport or walking instead.
5. Get your driving style up to scratch
Driving as smoothly as possible – with no heavy breaking or accelerating – will help use less fuel. As will changing gear as soon as is practical, which helps to keep revs low.
Also try to avoid driving with the window down where possible, as this creates more drag and uses more fuel. And another important one – drive gently when your engine is cold, or you’ll use much more fuel.