Sunday, June 5, 2011

Idle Free

Another VPR Commentary I forgot to post - about New Year's Resolutions.

OK, so, quite frankly, I have very mixed feelings about New Year's Resolutions.

While it's a nice idea, theoretically, to wipe the slate clean and start the year with a fresh set of goals for personal betterment, I honestly can't say I've ever followed through on any of mine for longer than a couple of days. Maybe a week. Have you? I mean, be honest. How long do they really last?

Still, one can't help but hope to have some kind of impact on something. And one thing I do know is that it's always nice to have a buddy - you know, like a workout partner - to help you keep on the right path. Or, even better, as we all know from junior high, if everyone else is doing something, then you'll probably want to do it, too. Right?

So I got to thinking: what's something that we could all collectively resolve to do together that would actually make a difference, not only in our lives, but in Vermont as a whole?

And, oddly enough, the first thing that came to mind was the whole issue of idling - running the car when it's not going anywhere. I know it seems like a minor thing, but, until you stop driving altogether, it's not. Turns out idling is a huge waste of both gas and money, and a big source of pollution. Idling spews enormous amounts of chemicals into the air and is linked to increases in asthma, allergies, heart and lung disease and cancer - not to mention climate change. Given that there are more than 550,000 cars and trucks registered in Vermont, reducing idling by just 5 minutes a day could cut CO2 emissions by 50,000 tons a year.

So, what if each one of us resolves to quit idling our car and commits to talking to five other people about it? I mean, really, it's not a big state. I bet among the lot of us we can probably reach everybody. Plus, when we run into our friends we'll have something to talk about that makes us sound chic and trendy. We can casually mention, "You know, I've gone Idle Free." And our friends will reply, "Oh, yes! We've been Idle Free for weeks now!" And everyone feels like they're totally hip AND taking some good "low-hanging fruit" kind of action - AND it's much easier than giving up, say, sugar or smoking.

Now, we also need a slogan. How about: "Idle hands may be the devil's playground, but idling cars are the devil's tailpipe." Or, for all of you children of the 70s out there, "Idle Free - You and Me." I'll keep working on it.

Now, to those who respond, "Well, I don't have a garage, so I only idle in the wintertime to melt the ice off my windshield," I say, "Invest $20 in one of those windshield covers, and then you won't have to waste any more gas!"

And to those who counter, "But I need to warm up the car," I say back unto you, "Oh, come on! You live in Vermont! Put on a hat and some mittens and warm up your car by driving it!" Even Click and Clack will tell you that modern cars don't need ten minutes to get ready to roll.

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