Tips for Sustainable Living: Do Not Idle Your Vehicle

“Therefore strive that your actions day by day
may be beautiful prayers.”

Monthly tips for sustainable and responsible living are now, for the third year, a staple of the Wilmette Institute’s newsletter. We know that circumstances vary for every person and every locale. The tips that Christine Muller (faculty for Climate Change and Sustainable Development for the Prosperity of Humankind) shares may not work for everyone, but we hope they will inspire other ideas on how to live a more responsible life, socially and environmentally. The rich and the middle class have a primary responsibility to reduce their consumption and adopt a simpler life. Poor people have fewer options about changing their lifestyles. Collectively, we need to mitigate the severity of climate change, reduce human suffering, and keep the Earth a livable place for the next generations.—THE EDITORS and CHRISTINE MULLER

Do Not Idle Your Vehicle

Idling occurs when a driver leaves the engine of a vehicle running while it is parked. Such an idling vehicle can release as much pollution into the environment as a moving one. At a time when we must reduce carbon emissions very quickly—45 percent by 2030, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F)—we must avoid any unnecessary pollution. Emissions from idling vehicles also damage people’s health, especially that of children. Vehicle emissions are linked to asthma, allergies, lung disease, and cancer. It is a myth that warming up a car with idling is good for the engine. Car mechanics say: “Idling your car before you start doesn’t just waste fuel and increase emissions, it strips oil from the cylinder and piston—critical components that help your engine run.” In Europe, to reduce the amount of time an engine idles, some new cars now have a stop-start system that automatically shuts down the internal-combustion engine when the car stops (the engine starts again when the car moves). Depending on where you live, idling your car could also be potentially illegal. Many countries and about thirty states in the United States have some form of anti-idling laws. If you are still not convinced about not idling your vehicle (aside from the fact that early-morning warm-ups are ideal for having your vehicle stolen), check out ten reasons for not idling your car, and learn about the 10-second rule and other useful information on the subject.


Clean Your House with Products Containing No Toxic Chemicals

Use a Local Car-Share Service


Why Eat Organic?  /  Eat Lower on the Food Chain
Considering Social Justice in Making Food Choices
Give Up Bottled Water—Go Back to the Tap!  /  Eat Less Beef

Home and Yard
Shower Less  /  Avoid Plastics  /  The Bees and We
Use Energy-Efficient Appliances  /  Recycle Right!  /  Avoid Single-Use (Disposable) Items
Save Money, Save the Planet by Insulating Your House  /  Go Solar!
Hang Your Laundry Out to Dry for the Children of the World
Ethical and Easy Lawns  /  Buy Clean Energy  /  Do a Home Energy Audit!
Search as Service on the Web (Use Ecosia and Plant a Tree)

Let’s Go for a Walk or Bike Ride or Car Pool to Meetings

Purchase Mindfully—Do I Really Need it?  /   Shop Smart, Buy in Bulk
Buy Second-Hand Clothing  /  Choose Reusable Shopping Bags
Shop Locally, Support Local Agriculture

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