Driving Smart Video: For Earth Day, Save the Planet and Some Cash

With gas prices hitting record lows in recent years and Americans eschewing fuel-efficient cars for gas-guzzling SUVs, our current cultural climate seems less concerned with the actual climate. But even if conservation isn't as fashionable right now, conserving what's in your wallet is always en vogue.

Related: 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid: Real-World Fuel Economy

In honor of celebrating Earth Day on April 22, here are five ways to save a little money while also helping save the planet every day:

1.  Bag those plastic grocery bags in favor of reusable canvas shopping bags, which can be stashed in your vehicle for trips to the supermarket without taking up much space. Cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Austin, Texas, and Portland, Maine, have laws either banning plastic bags or charging up to 10 cents each at checkout for environmental preservation.

2. Like the name of this segment ... drive smart. To improve fuel economy, remove unnecessary items from your car that add weight; avoid flooring the accelerator at starts and maintain lower highway speeds; keep your tires properly inflated; and go easy on the air conditioning.

3. Go electric. A pricey Tesla is no longer your lone long-range electric option; affordable models like the Volkswagen e-Golf, Hyundai Ioniq and Nissan Leaf get around 125 to 150 miles on a charge, while the Chevrolet Bolt EV goes a Tesla-rivaling 238 miles. In addition to a green driving experience and savings at the pump, consider that sweet federal tax credit of up to $7,500.

4. Pool resources. Thanks to modern technology, carpooling is easier than ever. Not only will you reduce your carbon footprint, but you'll help reduce congestion on the very route you drive on. Everybody in the community wins.

5. Practice conservative car washing. It seems counterintuitive, but high-pressure commercial machine washes only use around 45 gallons of water per wash, roughly equal to a load of laundry, while a garden-hose job in your driveway might use 100 gallons - while sending pollutants into your storm drains versus the treated, re-circulated water at the commercial wash.

You keep your conscience clear ... and your car clean.

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