Idle Talk

Alert — and concerned — “06880” reader Tracy Newman writes:

Last Sunday night marked the start of the Jewish holiday Tu B’Shevat. It originated as a way to calculate the age of trees. Today it’s evolved into a time to celebrate nature, and protect the environment.

The backdrop of this holiday is a good time to remind Westporters of one small change they can consider making, to help the earth.

One of our town’s greatest treasures — its beautiful coastline — is accessible to Westporters of all ages. Children crowd the playgrounds. Kiteboarders ride the waves on windy days. Sun worshipers soak up rays. Picnickers, shell collectors, fishermen, sand castle builders — the list of people and activities at Compo goes on and on.

Even during winter’s frostiest days, people still come to Compo. They walk their dogs. They gundle up and stroll the shoreline. They perch on benches, or sit in their vehicles and take in the view.

No matter the weather, the Compo Beach view is gorgeous. (Photos/Betsy P. Kahn)

How fortunate are we that even those who prefer to stay inside their car, admiring the dynamic vista — from sunrise to sunset, low tide to high, bright sun to stormy clouds — can enjoy Compo? It is to those people that I make my heartfelt request.

Please, turn off your engine.

Chilly? Bring a blanket.

On the phone? Switch your headset to speaker.

Listening to music? On most newer cars, the radio continues until you open the driver’s door.

Why bother making these adjustments?

Because idling your car is bad for the earth.

The Environmental Defense Fund says, “For every 10 minutes your engine is off, you’ll prevent 1 pound of carbon dioxide from being released.” Carbon dioxide is the primary contributor to global warming.

Running your engine also costs you money. The EDF calculates that an idling car uses between 1/5 to 7/10 of a gallon of fuel an hour.

Idling your car makes people sick. It emits hazardous pollutants linked to asthma, heart disease, chronic bronchitis, and cancer.

Idling your car can even damage your engine. The California Energy Commission says idling leads to “the build up of fuel residues on cylinder walls that can damage engine components and increase fuel consumption.”

Finally, it’s against state law. Unnecessary idling for more than 3 minutes is illegal.

Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies (RCSA) 22a-174-18 prohibits vehicles of all kinds from unnecessary idling for more than 3 minutes.

So whether you do this for the earth, your wallet, your health, your car or your civic duty: Please, turn off your engines. Together, we can all make the planet a little greener.

And Happy Tu B’Shevat to you all!

17 responses to “Idle Talk

  1. Amen! “Drives” me crazy when I see this and it happens all over town. Turn your cars off people.

  2. Well said, Dan

  3. A great reminder. I usually turn the engine off but on a couple, “feels like negative degree” days recently, I kept it on, waiting to pick someone up, and so now I will turn it off.

  4. Alan Phillips

    Park and rec needs to post signs

    Save our planet.
    Please turn off your engine !

  5. One of the things I love about being Jewish ish that our faith is such a part of our lives both in deed and in history. It’s part of what has allowed us to prevail over our challenges. Restoring the environment will be no different.

  6. Werner Liepolt

    This is a great reminder to make living in the I95 corridor a bit less unhealthy. It would be good to de-institutionalize the idling of our fleets of school busses (so more kids can be spared the affliction of asthma) and how about measures to reduce the congestion producing accidents on I95 itself?

  7. This is a wonderful article. I hope it educates and motivates people to turn their cars off.

  8. Hear here!!

  9. Amen again! Thank you Tracy for the reminders.

  10. Ellen Lautenberg

    Thanks so much to Tracy and Dan for posting this! It’s a great reminder of one thing we can all easily do to contribute to a healthier environment.

  11. Richard Fogel

    great Mitzva in writing the article. Thank you. Vote for the enviornment,not against it.

  12. I believe gundling is an old tradition brought over from England in the late 18th century!

  13. I’d like to see Westport be one of the first communities in the area to move to electric school buses. Think of how much better our air quality would be if we took 40 diesel buses off our roads?

  14. And the school busses? Drivers sit, waiting for time to start the run for hours and hours a year…..should be a highly priced, ticketed offense.


  16. Great point Tracy!
    Thanks for posting Dan.