Bermuda is a car culture and in February we discussed some of the 'greener' options if you are in the market for a new vehicle.

Just to recap briefly: your best-to-worst choice in order of environmental impact is:

  1. Electric vehicles (EVs)
  2. Hybrid vehicles (HEVs)
  3. Diesel vehicles
  4. Smaller and fuel efficient petrol (ICE) vehicles
  5. Larger or fuel in-efficient vehicles. In Bermuda, this includes SUVs, which are a poor choice.

Many things you do every day send greenhouse gases into the atmosphere increasing your carbon footprint, from riding in a motorboat, airplane or car to doing simple things like turning on A/C to cool or heat the home. Every time you barbecue meat or turn on the gas range, you add to the global warming problem. Same goes for every time you flip on a light switch or TV.

26% of our greenhouse gas emissions come from road transport, so the question is, as most of us are not in the market for a new car, so is there something else we can do?

Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Bermuda

greenhouse-gases-bermudaSource: Bermuda Government Energy White Paper - Chapter 2

One simple thing we can all do which makes a big difference is to turn off the car instead of idling the motor. We all leave the engine running from time to time for convenience when waiting for school to get out, or for your partner to run into the grocery store, or while you stop and chat with a friend – but this habit adds up to a significant impact on our wallet, our car and our environment.

You may have been told by a driving instructor, parent or friend that frequently turning the engine on and off wears out the battery, or the starters, or wastes gasoline. With modern cars with electronic ignition this is no longer true. In fact leaving the car running forces it to operate in a very inefficient, gasoline-rich mode, which over time can degrade the engine's performance and reduce mileage. It also wastes money. If we idle our cars for an average of 5 minutes a day we can be wasting more than $100 a year:

Direct Reductions from Eliminating 5 Minutes of Idling

Daily Annual
Engine Size 
Gas Not Burned Gas Not Burned Money Not Spent 
CO2 Not Emitted
Small ½ cup 10 Gallons $75 220 lbs.
1 cup
20 Gallons $150 440 lbs.

Source: Eco-driving USA

Car exhausts not only emit greenhouse gases that damage the environment, but they also harm us. Here is a comprehensive list of chemicals (source: Green living tips):

  • Carbon dioxide: not bad for us but definitely bad for the planet
  • Carbon monoxide: colorless, tasteless, odorless, highly toxic and also a greenhouse gas
  • Nitrogen dioxide (also known as Nox): contributes to acid rain and the growth of algae in our bays and ponds
  • Sulfur dioxide (also know as Sox): causes acidification of our water, and in us it causes lung disease and respiratory distress
  • Benzene and formaldehyde: cause cancer in humans and are also very toxic for marine life
  • Polycyclic hydrocarbons: pretty much as bad as they sound – some are carcinogens, some cause harmful effects on skin and in the auto-immune system.
  • Particulate matter: the soot or black smoke that we see – this has impacts on our respiratory system, and those of animals, damaging tissue and contributing to lung cancer.

It's enough to put you off driving altogether – or maybe to put you off breathing near a car? The worst spot for idling is outside of schools, which means that we are increasing the concentration of these gases near children who are more vulnerable than adults to their impact.

There are other ways that we can reduce pollution and gasoline use: Avoid hard stops and starts, these not only waste gas but also lead to much higher pollution. Open your windows and avoid the AC for a little bit longer on these lovely Spring days. Piggyback errands and trips to the store; combining several short trips into one can make a big difference. Walk! Ask yourself (and your kids) if that trip is really necessary or can you get there the old-fashioned way.

April is Earth Month and Spring in Bermuda, so in order to help spring-clean our air we ask you to:

  1. Turn your car off when idling.

  2. Commit to one fewer trip a week: walk, or just wait till you next go out

  3. Ask schools to commit to "No Idle" zones – better for our planet and better for the health of our children

  4. Write to the Bermuda Public Transportation Board (email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.and ask them to turn off idling buses in the bus station and when pausing at turn arounds.

Happy Earth Month.

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