Saving Gas / Cutting Pollution

11 Apr
2008

Yesterday, I was out and about doing some chores, when I got hit with a hankering for a grilled chicken sandwich. Heading on over to the nearest fastfood joint, I opted to park and go inside instead of going through the ridiculously long drive-through.

When I got out I looked at the line and realized I would still have been #4 if I had gone through the drive-in.

But it got me thinking – there are all these articles on reducing pollution and being smarter about using gas – isn’t the idling in a drive-through a lot of wasted gas? At lunch time those lines become long – cars just idling with their AC on (hey its hot) must not be the greatest use of gas.

So am I onto something? If everyone parked and went inside, would there be a noticeable impact on pollution?

And please I don’t want to hear about global warming in the comments. Pollution is disgusting, and cutting back on it is just good for our lungs, plain and simple.

14 Responses to Saving Gas / Cutting Pollution

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Michael

April 11th, 2008 at 11:33 am

That’s a really good idea.

I can certainly see how that would save gas (which is important when it’s $3.50 a gallon), but I’m sure the environmental impact would be substantial if people actually did this.

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Techobot

April 11th, 2008 at 2:23 pm

Are drive in lines really long?

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Ahmed

April 11th, 2008 at 2:26 pm

@Michael [#2] – I don’t disagree with you. I eat fast food *maybe* once a month (the last time before I remember was a ridiculously long 3 hour dental visit and I was ravenous. And that was two months ago). So yeah I try to stay away from it.

At the same time, I realize that people are still going to go to fast food. Would I prefer no fast food? Yeah. But as a realist, taking baby steps is needed. So shutting off the car and going inside would be a nice start.

@Techobot – they can get insanely long during lunch hour. Plus even without a line, you still idle the car for say, 60 seconds. Imagine how many cars go through a drive through at each fast food joint. Then multiple by # of fast food joints in your city. Or by country? It adds up fast!

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Michael

April 11th, 2008 at 3:03 pm

Our city, Burlington, VT, USA, has a no-idling law on the books. Or maybe it’s a state law. Gets the trucking and bus companies worked up, but I think it’s a good thing.

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Ahmed

April 11th, 2008 at 3:17 pm

Just thinking – can you imagine if city/state/even federal govt *tried* to get rid of the drive through?

Civil liberties? Its for our best

Drive through? THIS MEANS WAR!

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Dave

April 11th, 2008 at 3:26 pm

It’s a nice start. Of course, if everyone followed my example and *bicycled*, there wouldn’t be any discussion about idling. :)

I won’t get too holier-than-thou, since I realize that not everyone has the luxury of living 5 miles from work in a very bicycle-friendly community (in terms of weather, bike lanes, and relatively low traffic levels).

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Ahmed

April 11th, 2008 at 4:38 pm

This could of course spin into a conversation about society and urban sprawl. I loved my time in the Netherlands – huge bike racks at train stations, people keeping two bikes for both ways, fresher air, etc etc. Or when I was in Japan – everyone used public transportation. I was there for two years and we never owned a car.

And so forth :)

But always baby steps. So lets say step #1 is “don’t use the drive through”

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Dave

April 11th, 2008 at 5:24 pm

Or, how about “don’t use the drive through if there is a line.” If everyone parks and goes inside instead of using the drive through, you may end up using more gas driving around trying to find a parking space than if you’d just used the drive through. :)

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Mike

April 14th, 2008 at 12:29 pm

Pack a lunch, or walk/bike and don’t drive, that will have an impact. Or carpool to lunch. Idling for 10 minutes in line is 0.026 gallons (http://www.hcdoes.org/airquality/Anti-Idling/IdleFAQ.htm) or 10 cents of fuel at almost $4/gal California prices. How does that compare to the gas consumed / CO2 created in aggregate from the actual trip to and from _any_ place for lunch (not just fast food)?

I think the point well made is to consider impact of your choices. But before you impose/legislate those choices on others, with regard to drive-thru, please also consider: 1) the utility for who are mobility-impaired, not having to get out of the car; 2) mother alone with more than one kid in tow who will is insensitive to drive-thru wait time vs issue of getting kids in/out safely with food to-go – – I’m sure she’s ordering the “healthy” version of the happy meal, as a quick stop in a busy schedule :-).

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Ahmed

April 14th, 2008 at 12:34 pm

Mike – like I said, baby steps :) I totally understand about problems with mobility, kids, and so forth. And I understand that the overall impact is not large. But there are still millions of cars that do go through the drive-through every day that could park.

Telling people to stop eating fast food requires a large shift. Telling them to just park and go get their food requires a lot smaller effort. The little bits add up, and we need to start *somewhere* :)

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Mike

April 14th, 2008 at 1:02 pm

I should have prefaced that I agree with your point – I just wasn’t a fan of legislating the drive through away.

BTW, Jack-In-The-Box services 2/3rds of its orders via drive through. (http://www.qsrmagazine.com/reports/drive-thru_time_study/)

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Ahmed

April 14th, 2008 at 3:29 pm

Good point Mike. I stand corrected on that.

And wow at 2/3rds – is this what we’ve been reduced too? Even fast food is too slow that we have to eat on the go?

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JOhn

April 24th, 2008 at 8:19 am

Great idea Ahmed. Pollution output would be less in most urban and suburban areas serviced by these type of restaurants. Individuals would see an increase in their car’s MPG, just like you see an increase between “city” and “highway” MPG. Its not the going fast on the highway that make the MPG go up, its the lack of idling 10% to 50% of the time at stop lights encountered during City driving.

Drive in lines are huge in many areas. In my South Florida city, all new McDonald’s near office areas are built with TWO drive through lines to accommodate the crowds at lunchtime. Some even put employees out in the parking lot taking orders via wireless. I bet some fast food places make the majority of their profits at this time slinging chow as fast as they can.

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j4s0n

May 2nd, 2008 at 8:06 am

Honestly for weeks now, this blog post gets stuck in my mind and come to think of it everytime I pass by a drive thru or stucked in a traffic jam! Can’t get it out of my head. :(

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