Going Green: Top tips on turning your motoring life eco


There are some eco-warriors out there who believe the humble automobile is the devil on wheels.

But in recent years car manufacturers have worked hard to change the car's planet killing image with hybrids, electric vehicles and fuel-sipping eco models like VW's Bluemotion range.

But what if you can't afford a new car and still want to go green? Well, fortunately there are ways you can cut your carbon footprint – and it doesn't have to mean walking!

Simply thinking about how and when you use your car, the products you use and the way you look after your vehicle can make a real difference.

Simply planning trips to coincide with one another, not going out especially to buy fuel, and sharing a commute can all help. But it's not just about how and when you use your motor – just as important is the way it's looked after. Here are our practical tips to make car ownership greener.

Change your style

No one likes to be told how to drive - but if there's one guaranteed way of slashing your CO2 output it's by changing your driving habits. Avoid harsh acceleration and braking, drive with the windows up to avoid drag and remove any unused extras such as roof racks. Stick to the speed limits and change up at the most economical point – roughly 2,500rpm for petrols and 2,000rpm for diesels. And think about switching off the engine if you're going to be stationary for more than two minutes

In a lather

A clean car might be a pretty car, but do you need to do it every week? If you really must spruce it up, use a bucket and sponge instead of a hose to save water or cut it out completely with a waterless cleaning agent like Miracle Drywash which lifts dirt with a cloth.

Spring clean

Carrying around your golf clubs and a set of tools can seriously inflate your fuel consumption – 100kg of unnecessary extra weight can increase it by as much as six per cent. Have a clean out of any unneeded kit in your car and stash it away in your garage instead.

Check it out

When your car is serviced regularly it's not only less likely to break down, but it'll be more environmentally friendly too. Good quality oil, fresh spark plugs and air filters are all essential – neglect any and your fuel consumption will be worse and your carbon footprint higher.

Plan ahead

Using sat nav is not only a great way to make motoring less stressful, but it's green too! By avoiding getting lost and taking the most direct route to your destination you'll cut fuel bills. Use one with traffic jam detecting capability and you'll cut CO2 even more.

Home alone

By servicing your car at home you can ensure all parts used are recycled. Fluids, such as waste oil and antifreeze, should be taken to a specific recycling centre. Starter motors, alternators and some bulbs can also be recycled. Check tyre pressures as part of the service, and periodically in between – correctly inflated rubber saves fuel.

Air we go

Using air conditioning can increase fuel consumption so only use it when it's really needed. The same applies for rear screen heaters and heated seats. Using aftermarket extras certainly makes driving more enjoyable, but only have them on if you really need them.

At your service

Even things as simple as insurance, breakdown cover and vehicle inspections can be green. The Environmental Transport Association provides all of them in a carbon neutral way.

Green option

Try a fuel saving tyre – such as the Michelin Energy or Firestone Fuel Saver – which claim to reduce fuel consumption by adding silica to their compounds. And you could try 'green' cleabing products, like the CarPlan EcoCar range which offers a host of environmentally-friendly products derived from vegetable and plant extracts.