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Read this to find out how you can:

  • Save yourself or your chauffeur (AKA parents, mates) over £200 per year in petrol costs
  • Help save the environment over 16 million tonnes in CO2 emissions (in the UK alone)
  • Reduce traffic jams and accidents and have a happier healthier journey

All with pretty much zero effort on your part. Not bad for a few minutes of your time…

Driving us to insanity:

A fascinating concept of Lean thinking I’ve picked up on in my professional career is that it’s counter intuitive. In other words, the way our brain tells us is faster/better to do something is often actually the opposite. Here’s an everyday example…

Christmas cards. If we have 50 Christmas cards to write the best way to do it is to write all the cards out first, then do all the addresses on the envelopes, then do all the stamps right? Nope. It’s actually quicker to do one complete ready-to-send card at a time. Weird but true. (As this is an environmental blog it’s got to be worth me recommending sending e cards instead!).

Don’t believe me? Here’s a YouTube video of a Lean practitioner doing the experiment and you can even time yourself at home for proof!

One reason it’s faster is because there’s less stopping and starting which interrupts the flow – another key concept of Lean and a very pertinent point to what I’m about to say.

Another place we’ve got it wrong is the way we drive. We’ve convinced ourselves that the closer we are to the car in front the quicker we get to where we’re going. Not only is this wrong but it is the causer of tonnes of accidents (many fatal), causes us massive stress, countless traffic jams AND costs us money in petrol AND costs the environment in petrol emissions.

I proved this to myself when I bought my car, which at the time I bought it 3 years ago politely informed me on the dashboard that I was getting 43 MPG. It was supposed to be an economical car getting way more than this so what I did was begin to leave more distance to the car in front, enough that I rarely need to break because I’m far enough back that just lifting my foot off the accelerator means I don’t have to. The MPG quickly rocketed and is still going up but it currently sits at 58. You don’t have to be a mathematical genius to realise that’s an extra 15 MPG!

Money saving:

Fuel has been at an average of £1.20 per litre since I bought it (for Diesel, slightly less for petrol at £1.16) and I drive approx. 25000 miles per year as I commute so converting this to gallons this saves me £820 a year.

The average car driver drives 7500 miles per year which saves £246 (£238 for petrol). Cliché’s like a big saving to make for such a small price to pay are rolling off my tongue here but I’ll spare you the rest!

Environmental impact:

Each year in Great Britain there’s 108 million tonnes of greenhouse emissions from road transport (311 billion vehicle miles, see notes for equation). Therefore, on average, this could save the environment 16,623,037 tonnes in C02 fuel emissions per year. That’s over 15%! All from a minor change.

This means you can be part of:

Keeping the Earth at a temperature where we don’t have to worry about whether people and animals alike can survive the conditions

We can take the fate of the planet into our own hands and help protect it by being green in everyday life including; being green at home, being green at work and being a more environmentally friendly driver. With the added bonus of saving money on fuel / petrol costs

Decreasing air pollution and saving ourselves and loved ones from all the health conditions it causes from asthma to heart disease to stunting our children’s lung growth

Cut CO2 emissions with your driving habits and protect against harmful effects of air pollution like stunting children's lung growth, asthma and heart disease Cut CO2 emissions with your driving habits and protect against harmful effects of air pollution like stunting children's lung growth, asthma and heart disease

Being the change:

Once you make this simple change you’ll begin to see the way everyone drives in a different light. You’ll notice people accelerating up to red lights and roundabouts only to have to slam on the breaks. You’ll see rows and rows of cars leaving too little distance so as soon as someone cuts in it causes each one to brake which quickly becomes a traffic jam and even a pile up that could so easily have been avoided.

If you want to see why this way of driving causes problems here’s a good 4 minute YouTube vid.

Changing this one habit of unnecessary breaking through driving too close can be easy when you know all this and it DEFINITELY makes driving more pleasurable. (Obviously if you need to brake then still brake!)

If you’re anything like me, it’ll become a challenge to see how much you can increase your MPG. If you make this change it would be good to hear how many MPG extra you’re getting so please post it here or e mail me and we can see who’s got a car that saves the most.

If it seems unrealistic for people to change driving habits, you should know that we’ve done just that and it’s literally lifesaving on the roads – stats show that deaths on the road (per billion vehicle miles) has dropped from 165 in 1949 to 5.7 in 2014 for reasons including education and behavioural change.

Bear in mind you’ll get the odd person on the motor way undertaking you because there’s a gap between you and the car in front even though you are overtaking cars in the slower lane (if you’re not then think about moving out of the overtaking lane!) but when that happens don’t get annoyed, drop back to leave distance between you and them and be part of driving education (excuse the pun).

If you’re feeling reluctant to change, then it’s too big of a step. So break it down until you find a start point that’s easily achievable, like trying it for one journey, or part of one, whatever you feel comfortable with that will then lead to the next step and the next.

If you intend to try this, then tell someone and/or write it down and think of the journey you’ll do it for, e.g. tomorrow on the way to work, and you’re much more likely to actually give it a try.

If that’s not enough to get you started, then here’s a bit of inspiration from someone more insightful than me:

“Do your little bit of good where you are, it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world” Desmond Tutu

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Sources and extra reading:






‘The Spirit of Kaizan: Creating Lasting Excellence’ by Bob Maurer, Leigh Ann Hirschman

‘Think Small: The Surprisingly Simple Way to Reach Big Goals’ by Owain Service and Rory Gallagher


*8,887 grams of CO2 emissions per gallon of gasoline consumed (8,887 grams of CO2 /gallon of gasoline =8.887 × 10-3 metric tons CO2/gallon of gasoline).

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