What is car idling?
Idling is when a driver leaves their car engine running when they aren’t driving. Some newer cars have auto shutoffs or electric engines, and those aren’t a problem. But idling older cars can be a big problem.
Drivers idle all around Lafayette, such as when they are waiting to pick up kids from school or are waiting for take-out food to be ready at a restaurant.
So we’re asking Lafayette residents to stop idling their cars because it harms our environment, is dangerous for people’s health, and it also costs drivers extra money.
Climate change is one of the earth's biggest problems. It dramatically increases global temperatures and rapidly changes our planet's geological landscape. Glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, and animals are dying. All because of climate change. Also, a lot of natural disasters are being caused by it too, like floods, wildfires, hurricanes, and droughts.
So we decided to take action and form the Project Earth team. Our mission is to take action to reduce the community's carbon footprint. When we were in third grade at Burton Valley Elementary, we started Project Earth and began our main project: to reduce car idling. With support from our school's principal, we first counted the amount of cars idling in our school's parking lot. Then we made signs and held them up to inform drivers. When we counted again, we saw that 10% less drivers were idling.
Next, with the support of the Lafayette school district, we held a poster contest for all the Lafayette schools, sponsored by Sustainable Lafayette. We asked kids in the school district to create a poster to help educate people about how idling is really harmful to the earth.
More than 30 students submitted a fun and creative poster entry for the contest. We chose winners from each school that had created the most clear and artistic posters that would help teach parents to not idle in our school parking lots. These posters are now hanging in the parking lots around the schools.
Our next step was to present a resolution to the Lafayette City Council to adopt a no idling resolution across the city. We gathered signatures from presentations we made and events we went to until we presented hundreds of signatures in support to the city council in the fall of 2022. The Lafayette City Council members decided to show their support and adopt a no idling resolution for the city.
That means that the city is committed to educating Lafayette residents to not idle, and it will work with us to help spread the word. The Lafayette School District took a great next step to put permanent signs in the parking lot. They asked for our advice, and we helped them create the signs and plan where to place them. One of our siblings (Dilon Chugh) designed them.
Now they’re hanging in all the school parking lots throughout the district! We hope that the Acalanes Unified high school district – and other school districts in our area – will follow their lead. Small actions matter for the health of your kids and the planet, so please remember to turn your key and be idle free!
Written by Lauren Brekke, Raini Chugh, and David Siu
Bad for the planet
Cars release greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere when idling. Leaving a car on is causing climate change. Every gallon of gas a car burns, it produces more than 20 pounds of greenhouse gasses. In fact, the average driver with a gas car emits 4.6 metric tons (~10,141 pounds) of carbon dioxide per year.
Hurts your health
Car idling also harms your health. Car emissions contains fine pollution particles. When you breathe them in, they can penetrate your lungs and go into your bloodstream. This can lead to many illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis, and cancer. And kids’ lungs can be even more severely impacted by these pollutants.
Idling costs you more money. Gas prices have been getting higher, especially in California. So when you idle, you are simply wasting the gas in your vehicle. This means that your tank will be empty faster and you will overall spend more money on gas than you really need to, wasting money for no reason.
Did you know that
idling for more than
uses more fuel and
emits more CO2
than restarting your engine?
It’s less expensive to
turn your car off
while you wait!