Many of us agonize over the gas mileage of our vehicles and what the greenest car purchase may be. The kind of repair shop we take our vehicles to, however, could have a huge environmental impact.
Green auto repair shops can be difficult to find and even more difficult to define. Auto repair is an inherently greasy, messy job that usually involves a variety of fluids and potentially environmentally damaging materials, such as used tires. Defining what, exactly, is a green repair shop can be tough. Various cities and states have green business associations that lay out their own standards. The Eco-Logical Automotive Services Program in Oregon and the San Francisco Green Business Program, which includes auto repair shops. One survey found that 71 percent of customers said “they would consider the environment in making their service … choices.”
What green shops should do
Automotive repair shops that are more environmentally friendly could do one of several things. For example:
- Recycle or properly dispose of all used oils and automotive fluids, rather than disposing of them in wastewater or trash
- Recycling scrap metal and automotive parts
- Recycling used tires and batteries that come from vehicles
- Maintain emissions inspection procedures or safety inspection standards
- Offers options for using recycled or reconditioned fluids or materials
Finding a green repair shop
If you want to find a green repair shop, then it may mean a bit more legwork on your part. Check for local green trade groups or check with auto repair stores that offer oil recycling to find a mechanic who may be able to help. Call around to the repair shops in your town and ask questions. Ask if painting shops use low-VOC paints. Ask mechanics how they dispose of drained fluids, not just of engine oil, for which there are usually heavy environmental regulations. If a shop is not willing to answer your questions or there is a long silence before the question gets answered, then you already have your answer.
Doing your own green repair
If you are a do-it-yourself mechanic, then you can still help keep the environment protected. Do your car repair on a flat, level surface that has been covered with a material that will absorb any drips or spills. Check with local recycling centers and auto parts stores to find a place to turn in used oil and fluids for recycling. If you are not sure how to recycle or properly dispose of a particular material, then call a recycling center and ask.