New car with ribbon on hood

Buying a green car is one way to help the environment but the process doesn’t end when you drive off the dealer’s lot.

Usage Tips

Buying a green car is one way to help the environment but the process doesn’t end when you drive off the dealer’s lot. The way you use your car makes a big difference—no matter what kind you drive.

  • Drive Green. Start by slowing down. Driving 75 mph instead of 65 mph burns 10 percent more fuel. A smooth ride also helps, so use cruise control when it’s practical. Stop-and-go driving and jackrabbit acceleration really take a toll—just one second of “pedal to the metal” acceleration emits almost as much carbon monoxide as half an hour of normal driving. And when you’re not driving your car, turn it off—don’t let it idle.

  • Give Your Air Conditioning Some Help. Park in the shade when possible, and cool down your hot car by driving with the windows down before turning on the air-conditioner. Over time these practices can result in a much smaller workload for your AC—and significant energy savings.

  • Keep Your Car in Tune. Change your oil, check the fluids, replace spark plugs, and perform other regular maintenance tasks—they save fuel. Rotate your tires and keep them properly inflated. For every three pounds they fall below their recommended pressure your fuel economy will fall by one percent. When it’s time to replace tires consider using low-rolling-resistance (LRR) alternatives, which can boost your mpg.

  • Drive Less. It may seem obvious, but leaving your car in the garage a bit more often is the best way to reduce its environmental impact. Carpool when you can, try public transportation, or break out your bike when the sun is shining. Every mile you don’t drive makes a difference.

« Environmental Impact


Save Water

Learn More About Freshwater »

The Great Energy Challenge

  • Photo: Aerial view of a city at night

    What Is It?

    An initiative to help you understand our current energy situation.

  • ec-100.jpg

    Personal Energy Meter

    See how you measure up against others, and how changes at home could do tons to protect the planet.

Step Up to the Challenge »


  • change-the-course-dry-co.jpg

    Help Save the Colorado River

    NG's new Change the Course campaign launches. When individuals pledge to use less water in their own lives, our partners carry out restoration work in the Colorado River Basin.

  • National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C.

    Sustainability at National Geographic

    The National Geographic Society aims to be an international leader for global conservation and environmental sustainability. Learn more about the Society's green philosophy and initiatives.

Learn More About Freshwater »