How to become a more sustainable MINI Owner.
You’re probably thinking that buying more eco-friendly cars – electrified or fully electric vehicles – is the way to go. And there is truth to that, hence why we’re planning to have an all-electric line-up by 2030. But there’s more to it than just how your car drives. A large bulk of the CO2 emissions connected with a vehicle occur during its production process, so if you’re looking to have a smaller footprint, you should have a good idea about how your future car is manufactured. This also means that if you’re continuously buying new cars, then even if they drive more sustainably than your previous, old cars, the overall impact might be worse for the environment.
It probably comes as no surprise that we at MINI – and the entire BMW Group – have placed great emphasis on sustainable production and creating a circular economy of manufacturing using as many recycled car parts and materials as possible. We’re also restructuring our production process, from the extraction of raw materials to our cars’ re-use after their lifecycle has ended.
So, you’ve got a car, and you’re planning on driving it in an environmentally conscious way. The first steps happen before you fire up the engine.
TAKE A LOAD OFF YOUR CAR'S BACK.
Your car is a tool for mobility, not a storage space. Always try to keep excess baggage out of your vehicle and only take with you what you need. This lowers the car load, and by extension, its consumption, saving you money as well. Whenever you look at that surfboard fixed to the roof, or that box of books in the boot, and think “I’ll take those out next time”, make that “next time” now!
GET PUMPED UP.
If you’ve ever ridden a bicycle with poorly inflated tyres, you’ll know that it requires a lot more effort to make them go. It’s the same for your car as well. With inadequate tyre pressure you’re not just increasing fuel or energy consumption, but lowering your tyres’ life expectancy as well. So, always check your tyres – preferably monthly – and inflate car tyres when necessary.
Okay, you’re in your car, and you’ve started the engine. But what should you consider when you’re trying to get from point A to point B in the most sustainable way? The following car driving tips will help you drive green.
Maintaining a steady speed – avoiding sudden starts and stops, as well as jerky motions – decreases your fuel consumption and increases your fuel milage. Going over the speed limit is therefore not only dangerous but bad for sustainability, as it often results in a lot of braking and accelerating. Instead, you should aim to get to a cruising speed – and the appropriate gear – and try to stay there for as long as possible to save fuel. Cruise control can help you maintain speed and rest your feet as well.
BETTER TO SLOW THAN TO STOP.
If you see a red light, or heavy traffic, don’t arrive at full speed and break suddenly. Instead, try to coast and slowly decrease your car’s speed naturally. The light may turn green before you arrive, meaning you won’t have to accelerate from a standstill, which is much better for the environment. If you absolutely must stop, it’s better to switch off the motor instead of idling, as an idling car still consumes fuel and expels CO2. Your MINI’s Auto Start/Stop function (standard since 2007) can help you avoid having to do this manually.
If you have a MINI, it’s easier to achieve eco-safe driving. Our GREEN Mode is designed to help you save fuel and maximise range by regulating the car’s acceleration and adjusting the climate controls. It can display tips, and – if your car has automatic transmission – the sailing function can save you additional fuel: when you take your foot off the gas the engine is automatically decoupled from the transmission, meaning that your car slows down a lot slower, while consumption is lowered significantly.
GO YOUR OWN WAY.
If you want to achieve a steady pace and not get stuck in one place for hours on end, maximise your chances of being able to avoid traffic. Use route planners before your trip, so you know where not to go. It’s better for your stress levels, as well as the planet.
COOL IT WITH THE AC.
From a big sound system to the air conditioner, most electronics in your car need additional energy to operate. So it may be a good idea to lower your windows instead of turning on the AC. Or, if you do use it, set it to a comfortable temperature – don’t try to turn the inside of your car into a freezer! However, at high speeds, a rolled down window can create a lot of drag, which can increase fuel consumption. In this case, the best compromise might be to only turn on the AC every half an hour or so, or to just use it on low power.
Your car requires attention and regular maintenance – not just to save you money on repair costs, but to ensure that it’s always running optimally, in the most sustainable way. If you’re looking to lower your car’s emissions, improve its fuel economy and avoid unexpected breakdowns, regular tune-ups are a must. Everything from an oil change to an optimised emissions system, as well as properly functioning fuel and air filters, all contribute to your car running as efficiently as possible.
A small thing that can reduce harmful gas emissions with a non-fully electric car is to refuel it during cooler periods of the day. The fumes that are released when refuelling can create ozone when heated by sunlight. If you refuel during the evening, the gas vapours have time to dissipate. A small but useful element of sustainable living.
You probably know that you shouldn’t simply throw away used materials from your car. Depending on where you live, there might be oil filter, antifreeze, or oil recycling programmes available to you. Instead of going to a landfill, these will get recycled into new products.
SQUEAKY GREEN CLEAN.
We all like a clean vehicle, but there are a lot of factors to consider when thinking about how to wash a car. You should always think about the type of soaps and cleaning products you use, as well as where the wastewater ends up. It is exactly because of the treatment of wastewater that a professional car wash can be more environmentally friendly than doing it on your own. In general, they use less water for washing a single car than private citizens. They’re incentivised to save water, either through legislation or from a purely economic perspective. If you plan on using professionals, check how they treat dirty water. Ideally, they would use multiple forms of recycling systems, but at a minimum you should choose a car wash that makes sure that their water doesn’t get into storm drains, and thus enter lakes and rivers.
But what if you don’t have an appropriate car wash nearby? There are multiple things you can do to make sure you’re cleaning your car in the greenest way. First, think about ways to conserve water, such as using the spray gun attachments of your hose, or even better, use sustainable cleaning products. We at MINI have multiple eco-friendly products that are free of microplastics and have recyclable packaging. Additionally, our MINI Car shampoo and Windscreen Cleaner products are available in concentrated form, which means less waste, and less CO2 produced during transport. While you might consider some of the cleaning products you already have at home, they might not be optimised for your MINI and leave marks or damage certain surfaces in other ways. And, of course, after considering everything, always save water by only turning it on when necessary. Next, be mindful of where you wash your car. Ideally, you want to make sure that the water – with all the chemicals, oil and residue in it – doesn’t enter local rivers. It's best if you collect your dirty water in a bucket and dispose of it in your home. As you can see, every part of car ownership can be performed in a more sustainable manner if you’re mindful and attentive to what you're doing.