Thursday, June 26, 2008

On Photos and Drive Thrus

In an effort to develop and further my developing [HA! Punny!] mad photo skillz, I've created a photo blog: My Little Photography. (Get it?)

You can see all the pictures I deemed too boring didn't have enough space to put on this blog. :-P So, check it out if you're interested. And if not, don't. But you should know you're missing out.

Okay, glad we got that out of the way.

Now, let's move on and talk about drive-thrus and idling. (Oh, ugh. I cannot handle spelling through that way. It's like Krazy Ice Kreem or something. WRONG. Just WROOONG!) Seriously, I think it's time we sit down and talk about this innocent habit of ours.

It seems simple enough - you want a doubleshot on ice at Starbucks. (Yum. Me, too.) You pull into the drive-thru and order. You idle for a minute waiting, deciding, and ordering. You wait a few more minutes to pull around. Then a few more minutes till you get your drink. Exchange money for caffeine goodness, and you pull out of the lot.

Those five or six (or sometimes MORE. Ugh.) minutes can add up to wasted gas and air pollution. Don't believe me? Check it out:
The US EPA estimates that for every minute a typical auto engine sits idling it emits 6.6 grams of pollutants such as volatile organic compounds, nitrous oxides, and carbon dioxide. If, over a year, two million drivers—which is a small percentage of US drivers—stopped idling their cars unnecessarily for two minutes just once a week, it would reduce these emissions by over 1,500 TONS.
Some cities have instituted fines for idling cars because of the pollution they cause. So if you're going to idle for more than a minute, turn that key. Not at a stoplight, though...that could be dangerous - but if you're listening to the end of a song, finishing a conversation on your cell, or waiting for someone, go ahead and turn off your car. You'll save gas (read: MONEY!) and keep a little pollution out of the air.

What about drive-thrus? It's funny - I notice the drive-thru line is usually at least a few cars deep, but there are NO customers inside.* I go in, order, and am back in my car by the time one car gets served in the drive-thru lane. So I save money and time, and cause a bit less pollution. It's so characteristic of us Americans to not want to get out of our car. (Different story if you have small children. TOTALLY different. I completely understand wanting to stay in your car!)

Maybe you saw my Tweet about the Chinese man I met.

He ranted about Americans being fat because we drive every-freaking-where. We don't want to walk or bike anywhere. Even to get food from a restaurant. He said we should bike to stay in shape and because "we need to protect the environemnts." :) Imagine his adorable accent, and his enthusiasm and concern. Trust me, it was delightful.

*(I speak only from Starbucks experience. As a fairly healthy vegetarian, there's not much reason for me to frequent McDonalds or Burger King or other fast food places...)


  1. Dude. I was with coworkers this week at our conference, and on the way to a workshop we stopped at a Starbucks. We did NOT go through the drive-through, yet our driver pulled into a psuedo-parking spot and idled for 15 minutes while we were inside getting coffee for a big group of people. Then later, as we were getting ready to leave our conference and people were saying goodbye to each other, he started the car and left it running for another 15 minutes before anyone was actually inside the car. Um, yeah, it was rrrreeeeallly hard for me to be professional and not say anything about it.

  2. Yeah, you have a great point here.
    I'm an anti-idler too. Can't handle it!
    Oh, and I love the Chinese man :)

  3. I recently started a photoblog, but I keep forgetting about it. Dang.

  4. Callina: Ugh! What can you do?! I mean, it's his gas, I guess...but it's not his environment! When people leave the water running at work, or use Styrofoam cups, I flinch but never correct. It's hard!

    Heartbreaker: Booyah! Anti-idlers unite, baby! I also love the Chinese man. He kind of made my night.

    Tipp: I think that tends to happen to people. I'm going to try with all my might to update it. Blogging is a part time job, dangit!

  5. That's actually a really good point about fining idling cars. I never thought about it in that context. They should fine them, especially in big cities.

  6. I've actually heard that if you're going to have your car off for less than five minutes, you use more gas turning off the engine and restarting it than if you were to just idle... HOWEVER, I have absolutely no source material for that and I can't even remember where I heard it. I think it's time for me to do a bit more research, because you gave some very powerful statistics there.

    Also, I've contemplated biking instead of driving before, but holy crap, does it ever look terrifyingly dangerous... I think I'll stick with my elliptical machine for now to keep from becoming a fat American!

  7. I like to walk inside and get whatever I need instead of idling in the drive-thru line. (Also, spelling thru like that drives me CRAZY.) Not only do you oftentimes get your food/drink faster, but you get a little exercise on your way in and out.

  8. i always do this little mental dance everytime i go thru a drive thru by myself...on one hand drive thru's are gods gift to mothers b/c really, who wants to drag their kids out of the car when they don't have to. But when they're not with me there's absolutely no reason for me not to get my butt outta the car!
    And it's so true what you say about the line inside vs drive thru!!
    good post!


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