As an eco-conscious person, you know that the longer you can keep something out of the landfill, the better. Right?

For most items, this is true. Your old car, however, may be an exception. In fact, there are quite a few compelling environmental reasons to get rid of that old clunker. Here are a few:

  • Old cars are less fuel-efficient. Remember the Cash for Clunkers campaign in 2009? While its economic stimulus effect may be questionable, it did improve U.S. fuel efficiency by the equivalent of taking 5 million cars off the road. The average fuel economy of a new passenger car has improved by 27.7 percent since 2000, and a whopping 49.8 percent since 1980. Since up to 75 percent of a car’s lifetime emissions can be traced to its operation, and most of that is fuel consumption, you can imagine what a difference it makes to the average person’s carbon emissions when he/she upgrades to a newer vehicle.
  • Old cars burn dirtier. Carbon isn’t the only thing your car emits. Car exhaust contains a slew of polluting chemicals, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, ammonia and particulate. Not only were older cars manufactured under less stringent environmental standards, but as a car ages and wears it tends to burn dirtier.
  • Old cars can release toxic chemicals into the soil and watershed. What harm is it to let an old vehicle sit idle? Well, in addition to being an eyesore, parking that old junker could have serious environmental consequences. Corrosion can cause automotive fluids such as oil, gasoline and antifreeze to leak from your old vehicle. These can contaminate the soil and even pollute surface and ground water.
  • Your old car can be recycled. Did you know that today’s cars are, on average, about 86 percent recyclable? With some makes and models, the recyclability rate is over 90 percent. Nearly everything from the fluids to the filters can be recycled, re-used or reclaimed for energy recovery. The steel in a car is an especially valuable resource. It takes a lot of energy to produce virgin steel. This embodied energy is reduced by up to 85 percent when the steel is recycled. Why let an old car rot in the driveway or keep pumping out polluting emissions when it could be put to good use in so many ways?
  • Donating your car to a reputable nonprofit ensures it will be properly recycled. Not every company that is willing to take your old car will dispose of it responsibly. When you donate your vehicle to an organization that sends unsaleable vehicles to certified recycling facilities, you can rest assured that your car will be used in a way that helps, rather than hurts, our planet. 
  • Donating your car to charity helps people, too. Our environment and social justice are closely entwined. People who are supported to reach their full potential are much more likely to make environmentally responsible decisions. Donating your car is an easy way to support individuals and families in your community and beyond.

The beautiful thing about donating your car is that, unlike many recycling initiatives, it’s actually an easier option than disposing of it in other ways. All it takes is a quick phone call to arrange pickup of your vehicle, whether or not it is in working condition. Once the car has been sold for re-use or recycling (depending on its condition), you’ll get a receipt you can use to get a top deduction from your tax return.

If you have an old vehicle that is creating an eyesore and hogging space in your yard or garage, why not consider donating it to charity? The planet will thank you — and your neighbors probably will, too.

Here are a few of Mrs. Green’s favorites:

GoodwillGoodwill Car Donation specializes in making the donation process as fast and easy as possible, so all you have to do is contact them, and they’ll handle everything else. From picking up your vehicle to sending you a tax receipt in the mail, they manage every detail so that choosing to donate a car to charity is now a simple, seamless process that’s easier than ever.

Habitat for Humanity Tucson: Cars for Homes. FREE towing and tax receipt! Proceeds of the sale of vehicle stay right here in our community. The majority of cars are recycled for metal components which has a huge green impact saving precious resources as well as helping to build and repair safe, decent homes for families in Tucson. We can recycle our way to building a better world!  Local  | National

Author bio: Jeremy Silverstein is Vice President of Operations and Vehicle Dispatching at Goodwill Car Donations. During the five years he’s been with the organization, he’s handled tens of thousands of donated vehicles and has become an expert in the field.