Pollution Prevention Fact Sheets

Pollution Prevention and You and Driving

Pollution prevention, also known as P2, happens when people change their plans, practices and habits in order to reduce the generation of pollution and waste at the source, instead of trying to clean it up after the fact. Pollution prevention also includes activities that protect natural resources (i.e. trees, water) through conservation or more efficient use of resources.

The key to environmental sustainability is thinking globally and acting locally. Pollution prevention is about making smart choices – both in what we buy and in how we use products. It involves looking at the causes of waste and pollution and figuring out how to prevent them.


Using your vehicle less, keeping it well maintained, properly disposing of fuels and oils, and using public transportation all have a positive impact on the environment and our health. Did you realize that your vehicle has the potential not only to affect local air quality, but also to impact water quality? By promptly repairing leaks and keeping your car well tuned, you are practicing pollution prevention.

Here are tips on how you can reduce your car's impact on the environment:

Drive less

  • Walk or bike when traveling short distances.
  • Eliminate commuting or short trips that aren't absolutely necessary. Try to combine your errands into one trip, which will also save time.
  • Carpool, either for work or for other activities (i.e. taking your kids to school or sports practices).
  • Take public transit a few more times each week.
  • If you are planning to move, try to find an area that is close to work, school, and other activities to reduce car use.
  • Give up the second car – save money and encourage family members to try alternatives.
  • Encourage your neighbourhood to be more cyclist- and pedestrian friendly.

Drive smarter

  • Have your vehicle inspected regularly. Ensure that you follow the recommended maintenance schedule.
  • Keep your car well tuned and have any leaks repaired promptly. Emission-control systems should be checked and maintained at least once a year.
  • Refrain from washing your car in the driveway. This uses a great deal of water and the toxins that are washed off your car end up in the storm sewer system, eventually discharging into lakes and rivers.
  • Use ethanol blend gasoline when you refuel.
  • When purchasing a new vehicle, pick one that is as fuel-efficient as possible, or consider buying an electric hybrid car. Take into consideration your day-to-day driving habits: perhaps renting a vehicle for the occasional long trip or heavy duty job would work well for you.
  • Don't let the engine idle. Make sure that you turn off your car's engine while waiting for someone or while in drive-through lines. Ten seconds of idling consumes more fuel than restarting your engine.
  • In cold weather, block heaters reduce the amount of fuel needed to warm up the car's engine. Timers are a good way to turn on your block heater one or two hours before starting the car in the morning.
  • Use remote car starters only when absolutely necessary; this will reduce the time that your car idles. Check the manufacturer's recommendations to find out how long your vehicle should be allowed to warm up before driving.
  • Avoid spillage by not overfilling the gas tank.
  • Ensure proper disposal of your vehicle's fluids (i.e. oils, antifreeze, and brake fluid) to prevent them from contaminating local waterways.
  • Look into decommissioning programs after your vehicle is no longer useful. Certain programs will decommission your vehicle and ensure that hazardous materials and parts that can be recycled are removed prior to disposal.
  • Celebrate and participate in Clean Air Day!

Want to know more?

Visit the Canadian Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse for additional sources of pollution prevention information.