One fairly simple way each of us can help our environment and have healthier air is by reducing the amount of time we idle our car engines as we go about our everyday activities.

Often I see parked cars, driver inside, with engines idling and air conditioning running full blast in the already overheated asphalt-covered parking lots of our local stores. After shopping, I've returned and noticed these occupied cars with motors fast-idling as much as 45 minutes later.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, personal vehicles generate about 30 million tons of CO2 every year from idling alone, increasing air pollution. And, surprisingly, idling your car for more than 10 seconds uses more gas and produces more emissions than stopping and restarting your engine.

There are alternatives to sitting in our cars — such as waiting for others inside the store, rather than in the parking lot, or trying to park in a shady place where the car can be turned off and the windows rolled down. And when we are waiting in a drive-through line for food or at the bank, we can try to be aware of and minimize how much time has passed idling our engines.

I know we are in the middle of our hot Eastern Shore summer, but I also know that we don't want it to keep getting hotter for future generations.



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