Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Just Say No to Idling and Junk Mail

This week, let’s focus on waste from one of the biggest GHG contributors – the automobile. Let’s also take a look at that front door eye soar – junk mail.

TO Do This Week

Junk Mail
Ever wonder about the environmental impact of junk mail and flyers? In the USA alone, four million tonnes of this mail are delivered every year. Most people discard them without opening them. Think of the ink and virgin forest used to create those million dollar sweepstakes or credit card deals you know to think twice about. That’s one tree per year. In addition, 28 billion gallons of water are used to process the paper. And that’s just mail. How about flyers?

In the USA, Canada and UK, you have the right to stop this delivery. Click here for details
Easily Stop Junk Snail Mail and Phone Calls
EcoFuture (USA)

I also recommend posting a sign that reads: No junk mail please. You can download a poster by clicking on the hyperlink. That should stop you from dealing with flyers.

Speaking of which, the Ontario Government has decided to send its citizens brochures asking for their opinion on the province’s energy future. Heavy emphasis is on considering nuclear. If you live in Ontario, click here to order your No Nuclear Junk Mail poster.

The vehicle, that staple of 20th century living. I’m not going to delve into lifestyle choices around the vehicle just yet. That will come later. Right now, I’m focusing on waste in key areas, covering simple tasks to trim our GHG emissions. Easy peasy stuff. If you do not drive, you may want to pass some of this information on to your driving friends…

If you live in a cold climate and you drive, chances are you idle your car to warm it up before driving. If you live or work in a big city, you probably spend some time idling in traffic. You probably have a sneaking suspicion that idling is bad for the air and belts out a healthy dose of GHG emissions. Would it surprise you to learn that it also hurts your engine?

Really Bad for your Car – I was told car idling is good for the engine. That’s a myth, according to Natural Resources Canada and the US Environmental Protection Agency. Excessive idling causes damage. You only need to let your engine for 30 seconds – driving your car is far more effective in warming up the engine and your body. How can idling hurt your engine? According to Natural Resources Canada:
• First, since an idling engine is not operating at its peak temperature, fuel combustion is incomplete.
• As a result, fuel residues can condense on cylinder walls, contaminate oil and damage engine components. For example, these residues tend to deposit on spark plugs. With more engine idling there is a drop in the average plug temperature and accelerated plug fouling. This can increase fuel consumption by four to five percent.
• Excessive idling can cause water to condense in the vehicle's exhaust. This can lead to corrosion and reduce the life of the exhaust system.

Waste of Fuel and Money – According to Natural Resources Canada, idling a vehicle for 10 minutes a day uses an average of 100 litres of gas a year. Canadians tend to idle five to 10 minutes a day, “warming” their engines or stuck in traffic. At 70 cents a litre, a driver could save $70 a year in gasoline costs just by turning off the engine rather than idle. Collectively, if every driver of a light-duty vehicle in Canada were to avoid idling for just five minutes a day, Canadians would collectively save 1.6 million litres of fuel and more than $1 million. Can you imagine the amount of fuel and money saved if every American driver did the same?

Not Nice to Lungs - We all know that pollutants from car engines add to the wonderful toxic soup that’s in our atmosphere. As a bike rider in Toronto, I can’t begin to tell you how awful I feel after riding to work everyday. Thousands of North Americans die every year on account of air pollution. If everyone stopped idling their cars in their driveways or in traffic, it would help to ease our air pollution problem.

Warms the Planet - Reducing idling by 10 minutes a day can decrease your GHG emissions by up to half a tonne annually.

If you are going to be parked for more than 10 seconds, turn off the engine. Ten seconds of idling can use more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it. Restarting the engine does not hurt it. Idling does.

The Canadians think idling is bad
So do the Americans
Calgary’s on board
New York City’s hip to it

In the News:
Hybrids making headway
Toronto Star endorses Kyoto

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