If you’re a regular at Dover, Portsmouth, Spaulding, or Oyster River High School, you may have noticed a new addition to their parking lots. Seacoast Students for Sustainability members collaborated with a local company, Northeast Color, to create signs reminding students, families, and teachers, to not idle their cars in school parking lots.
Several of our members noticed an issue at their schools; cars unnecessarily running in the parking lots in the morning, or while waiting to pick up students in the afternoon. We decided that this is something worth trying to educate our community about, in an attempt to prevent it from continuing.
From the beginning, we knew that the most effective way to get people to think about how much they’re idling their car, and consider what the consequences of that may be, is to have a sign right in front of them. We discussed the idea of getting official, permanent, “No Idling” signs put up, but we knew this may be more of a challenge when it comes to convincing the school administration to make this happen. Luckily, we have a connection to Dover-based sign company Northeast Color. We reached out to them with our idea and received enthusiastic agreement to take on the project. They generously offered to donate the signs to us free of charge, because the cause is so important.
When we were considering the design, we made sure to keep in mind that one of the most important parts of our mission is to educate. We cannot progress towards a better climate condition if people do not understand why it’s necessary, so we decided to emphasize on the signs why it matters to turn off your car. There are two variations; one reads “Two minutes spent idling is equal to one mile of driving”, and the other “12 million gallons of fuel is wasted by idling in the U.S. every day.” We narrowed it down to these facts because addressing the waste of fuel will appeal to many people, not only because it’s unrenewable, but also because that’s their money wasted. It also puts into perspective how cumulative the impact of idling is. It's a nationwide problem that causes so much gas to be wasted, and such a high volume of fumes to be admitted, all across the country, when the car could just be off. 12 million gallons of gas a day could be spared.
All the signs, in addition to saying “no idling” in bold lettering, state 3 of the biggest reasons that this is so important. “Save the environment / Save your money / Save our lungs.” This will also help drivers consider how unhealthy the fumes coming from their cars are in excess, and how this can be particularly harmful in a school zone.
We hope that these signs can educate the families, students, and educators in our community, and really make a difference at all of our schools in how many cars we see running while parked.