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This is a guest post from Jeremy Silverstein, Vice President of Operations and Vehicle Dispatching at Goodwill Car Donations. During the five years he’s been with the organization, Jeremy has become quite an expert in the field and has handled tens of thousands of donated vehicles. So we’re excited to have the opportunity to talk with him about donating your car as a charitable gift for your taxes and the planet too!
The Environmental Impact Of Donating Your Car
If you’re like many environmentally conscious individuals, you cringe at the thought of ever throwing something out. If it can’t be recycled, then by goodness you’re going to use it until it falls apart. No unnecessary landfilling for you!
However, when it comes to your old car, squeezing every last drop of use out of it may not be the most environmentally sensible thing you can do. Why?
Well, you already know that cars aren’t exactly environmentally friendly to begin with, but old ones are worse. A study by University of Toronto from Spring 2015 found that just 25 percent of cars cause 90 percent of the air pollution attributable to automobiles. Guess which 25 percent? You got it — the offenders were primarily older vehicles.
Not only are older vehicles less fuel efficient than newer ones, but due to age and neglect, they often burn dirtier than they were initially intended.
By the time an old car gets to the patch-it-together-with-duct-tape stage, it may have other issues that compromise the environment as well. For example, think of the many types of fluids that help your vehicle function properly. Ever have a car where you constantly have to top off the oil or antifreeze? What’s happening is that your car is leaking those substances.
Leaks of other fluids are also common in older cars, including gasoline, brake fluid, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and wiper fluid. Many of these are extremely toxic to wildlife, not to mention your kids and pets. Whether it’s onto the roads or the floor of your garage doesn’t matter much. These chemicals will eventually migrate into the soil and/or your watershed, or get tracked into your home where they can be accidentally ingested or absorbed through skin or lungs.
Depending on your car’s fuel efficiency and how well you have been able to maintain it, it might just be time to start thinking about replacing that old vehicle. (With a solar-powered hybrid electric car, perhaps?)
Yet here we get to another problem: How do you dispose of your old car in the most environmentally responsible manner possible?
Car Donation: A Green Solution
One excellent solution is to donate your car. There are charities that will happily take your old car off your hands as a donation. Typically, if the old car is still usable, it will be serviced and sent to auction, with the proceeds going to the charitable organization. In the case of your old junker, the car will be properly disposed of — i.e., recycled.
You might be surprised to learn that 86 percent of a typical car can be reclaimed or recycled1. Some manufacturers have achieved a 90-plus percent vehicle recyclability rate.
The bulk of your car’s recyclable content consists of steel. This is significant because recycled steel uses 74 percent less energy to produce2 than virgin steel. However, other car parts are routinely recycled as well. Some parts are salvaged for re-use in other vehicles. Many of the old car’s fluids can be reclaimed and re-used or recycled. Even many of the synthetic materials in a car, such as its tires and the plastic in its dashboard, can be recycled into new products.
If your car is truly at the end of its life, donating it to a trustworthy charity (like Goodwill) that is set up to safely handle donated vehicles is one of the best ways to be sure that your car will be disposed of responsibly.
The Social Impact of Car Donation
Car donation is a socially responsible act, too. When you donate your car to a worthy charity, you’ll feel good knowing that the proceeds from your vehicle will go toward helping people in need.
Video: Car Donation
Watch this quick video to see how your your car can help others in need.
When considering which charity to donate your car to, it’s a good idea to check its rating with a third-party charity watchdog organization. Look for an “A” or “Best” rating to be sure that your donation really does make a difference.
Donating Your Car: An Easy Green Solution
If you’ve been driving an old clunker but have been holding out for environmental reasons, consider whether your car is really still meeting your needs. If not, donating it may be the ideal solution.
The best thing about donating your car is that it is super easy. Just contact the charity and it will schedule a time to pick up your vehicle at your convenience, at no cost to you. In return for your vehicle, it will give you a receipt that you can use to write the donation off on your taxes.
Most charities that handle car donations will accept any type of vehicle, whether it is running or not. If you’ve got an old car, truck, motorcycle or even a boat that no longer meets your needs, consider calling a charity to take it off your hands. You’ll truly be spreading goodwill for people, the planet and even yourself.
Thanks again to Jeremy for sharing these useful tips! Have you recycled your car before or are you considering it?