Zionsville Times Sentinel

July 3, 2013

Make a green sprint to a yard sale

Zionsville Times Sentinel

---- — Yard sales are part of Zionsville’s warm weather routine. Yes, even the high-end subdivisions declare a “community yard sale” day. Whether hunting essentials and bargains or treasures and finds, yard sales add a bit of adventure to the necessary routine of shopping. In addition, both the seller and buyer wade into an environmentally friendly realm.

From the green-living perspective, yard sales are much more than financial resources. Keeping items out of the landfill hits one green tenet. Even better, it hits the trifecta: reduce, reuse and recycle! Moreover, no one finds it unseemly to buy used instead of new; in fact, it’s often a matter of pride, “Can you believe it? I got this for a steal at a yard sale!” Yard sales are universally accepted and yet so environmentally friendly, that I find extra pleasure in spending a morning making the rounds.

However, last week I was stunned by the number of parked cars left running while people were hopping from sale to sale. I know we are all in a hurry to score a find and rush to the next sale, but it didn’t seem like speed was the reason for these idlers. Yes, it was warm, but cars cool down quickly, and there were no kids or elders waiting in the car.

According to the Consumer Energy Center, car engine idling is linked to increases in asthma, allergies, heart and lung disease and cancer. Even in newer cars, idling is a waste of energy and money, as well as a health hazard. When you idle, the car is getting zero MPG; and more than 10 seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting the engine. In addition, since fuel is only partially combusted when idling, fuel residues build up, which can damage engine components.

The EPA reports air pollution risks that include low birth weight, stroke, heart attack, respiratory infections, lung cancer, cognitive deterioration and decreased life expectancy. The Institute for the Environment at UNC in Chapel Hill lists five emissions hazards related to car idling: carbon monoxide, particulate matters, nitrogen oxides (N2O, NO, and NO2), ozone and benzene. Considering the host of health-related issues stemming from the short list of pollutants above, it’s clear that automobile exhaust is not something that you, and especially your children, should be breathing. Every idling car counts.

One of the easiest things that we can do while making our green sprints into yard sales is to protect the air quality by turning off car engines when parked instead of idling. Same holds true for banking and fast food lines. If you are unable to park and go inside for your transaction or order, consider turning off the car while you wait in line. The Consumer Energy Center recommends, “If you are going to be parked for more than 30 seconds, turn off the engine. Ten seconds of idling can use more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it. And when you start your engine, don’t step down on the accelerator; just simply turn the key to start.”

No question about it, turning off the car engine when going to yard sales definitely makes that great deal a lot greener.

Lynn Jenkins is a Zionsville resident and member of ZIGG, Zionsville Initiative to Go Green. Email her at LJenks@tds.net.