In 2007, I started researching this question:
How much gas does it take to start a warm car?
- 5 minutes’ worth of gas?
- 2 minutes’?
- 1 minute’s worth?
- 30 seconds?
- Or 10 seconds?
Back when cars had carburetors, the answer was 3-5 minutes. Now that they are all made with fuel injection, the answer is 10 seconds. Or less.
Surprised? I was.
This was such a revelation I started a blog about it. I wrote and sold my FIRST ARTICLE. I started my first Facebook page. I became an anti-idling evangelist, starting IdleFreeOakland.org, speaking to youth, and accosting idlers on the street.
A dozen years later most of those links have decayed and people still don’t know about the 10-Second Rule. They still waste gas and money and pollute and add to the problem…often while wringing their hands about the way we are killing our home planet. Even though anti-idling is a huge movement worldwide, even pundits never ever seems to mention it. Because people get freaky about it. Or they wait for new cars to come along.
Like yesterday, a huge Ford pickup rolled up to a stop sign and the engine TURNED OFF BY ITSELF. That’s progress! But not soon enough. YES we need bright green technologies and YES we need deep green societal changes, but light green lifestyle shifts make a difference. It’s January, and if you’re going to start one new habit for health, for positive change, and you have to drive and you can’t afford a new electric car, try this. When you think about giving up sugar or alcohol or caffeine or anything else not good for you, think about giving up idling. Just turn off your engine if you’ll be stopped for more than ten, or just make it thirty, seconds. Your car will be fine. Ask your mechanic.
If we all started this habit TODAY we could each cut our own personal carbon pollution 5 to 10 percent. And every little bit counts.
And if you stop by my house, please cut your engine!