Sustainable America Blog

5 (More) Anti-Idling Heroes

Rachael Lefevre is an anti-idling spokesperson

Rachael Lefevre is an anti-idling spokesperson for the Environmental Media Association. Photo: Gage Skidmore via Compfight cc

The reduction of U.S. oil consumption is a critical part of Sustainable America’s mission. To get there, we’ve been focusing on the issue of vehicle idling this year. Just a small individual behavior change—turning off your car when you’ll be idle for more than 10 seconds—multiplied by millions of drivers, can add up to big savings in fuel, money and pollution for our country.

Back in July, we wrote about five people and organizations that were doing a great job of spreading awareness about idling. Every week we hear about more people and projects that are working to raise awareness about idling, so it’s already time to expand our list.

But before you read further, remember that you can be an anti-idling hero too by taking our pledge to stop idling at iturnitoff.com.

Rachelle Lefevre
Actress Rachelle Lefevre played the vampire Victoria in two Twilight movies, but we love her for her role in “Don’t Be an Idler,” a hilarious new video sponsored by the [Environmental Media Association]. In it, Lefevre is disgusted by a date who leaves his car running while he comes to her door to pick her up. The Canadian-born actress also wrote an essay about the issue for mnn.com: “Idling is how environmentalists refer to that nasty habit of leaving your engine running when the car is not in motion. Waiting for someone outside their house or workplace with the car on equals idling. Keeping the car running so you have heat or A/C while you text from your parking spot equals idling. Finishing emails in the parking lot with the engine going equals — you guessed it — idling.” (For more creative anti-idling videos, click here.)

Prime Inc.
Prime Inc., a Springfield, Missouri-based trucking company equipped its entire fleet with auxiliary power units that would shut down engines after 5 minutes of idling—which is great!—but they took it a step further. Those units didn’t work for their tankers that needed to keep contents at a certain temperature during transport. So they engineered their own solution from a heater designed for school buses that significantly reduces the fuel needed to maintain the right temperature. Now they’re rolling it out to 240 units. “In a typical night, you idle 11 hours, using 1.2 to 1.6 gallons per hour. If you’re only burning at 0.4 [with this solution], you’re saving a gallon an hour — that’s $44 per night at $4 for diesel fuel,” said Nick Forte, fleet maintenance administrator.

These Girl Scouts
A trio of Girl Scouts in Goshen, N.Y., working on a badge have taken on the idling issue with gusto. They got permission from their town to post educational signs in their area and created a brochure, window stickers, a pledge, and magnets. They’re working on getting their signs posted at local businesses, and they wear “Idle Captains” T-shirts as they distribute their materials at places like the farmer’s market, the library and community events. You go, Girls!

Wisconsin
The state of Wisconsin is helping truckers save over 1 million gallons of diesel fuel this year alone through grants that help with the cost of installing idling-reduction units. The units allow truckers to shut down their main engines while parked overnight, while still providing power to the cab while they sleep. Wisconsin has awarded close to $1 million in these Diesel Idling Reduction Grants, saving trucking companies more than $4 million in fuel costs.

Salt Lake City Cops
If saving money isn’t enough incentive for you reduce idling time, consider this: 88 vehicles that had been left idling were stolen last winter in Salt Lake City alone. To prevent thefts this winter, police in that city will be leaving warnings titled “A Criminal Could’ve Stolen Your Car!” on unattended, idling cars. Let’s hope their effort also cuts down on idling time overall as well.

Sustainable America supports all the anti-idling all-stars out there. Our goal is to cut U.S. oil usage by 50% by the year 2030, and eliminating unnecessary idling can have a noticeable impact on our oil consumption as a nation. Check out our Turn It Off campaign for more information and to take our pledge to turn off your car when you’ll be idle for longer than 10 seconds.

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By the Numbers

Currently 50 million households suffer from food insecurity, meaning that family members cannot always meet their basic food needs.

10 million people a year could be fed through the recovery of just one-fifth of food waste.

Only 2% of food waste is composted or otherwise recycled—62% of paper is recycled.

Consumers throw out about 40% of the fresh and frozen fish they buy.

The U.S. produced 208 pounds of meat per person in 2009—60% more than Europe.

Low income commuters spend a much higher proportion of their wages on gas—8.6% versus 2.1% at $4 per gallon.

Food prices rose 35-40 percentage points between 2002–2008.

Americans consume 25% of the world’s produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

The International Energy Agency says greenhouse gas emissions rose 3.2% last year, with a 9.3% increase in China offsetting declines in the US and EU.


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