Jakob's short essay on The Dangers of Drive-Thrus took second place in the Simcoe Country District School Board's Eco Health Initiatives 2008 Eco Journalism Award.
On Wednesday June 4, he attended an awards ceremony at the school board office where he received his award from Mr. Lancaster (Bear Creek Secondary School) and Kayla Secord from the board office. Besides the plaque, Jakob received a $200 cash prize which he was quite pleased with.
During the ceremony, Jakob did a fine job reading his essay to the attendees, which is reprinted below. Jakob's essay and others in the contest will be distributed throughout the school system.
The Dangers of Drive-Thrus
Did you know that every minute a vehicle spends idling, it emits 6.6 grams of pollutants? And if two million drivers stopped idling their cars for just 2 minutes just once a week, it would reduce emissions by over 1500 tons? If you are one of the millions of Canadians that go to Tim Horton's every day for a coffee, you have witnessed exactly how much of that idling is done at drive-thrus. People use the drive-thru without a second thought. Though it is convenient, it is destroying the environment. Air quality reports have already recommended a ban on drive-thrus but no action has been taken by government. Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) can contaminate our air and is found in car exhaust.
When you sit at a drive-thru, car exhaust is seeping into the air. This thickens the atmosphere and causes heat to be trapped. This is called the greenhouse effect or Global Warming. As a result, every time you sit at the drive-thru you are contributing to melting the polar ice caps and increasing amounts of hurricanes.
Not only are drive-thrus destroying the environment but they are also causing health risks for people around them. Exhaust from cars contains Nitrogen Oxide (NOx), Volatile Organic Compound (VOC), Particulate Matter (PM), Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Carbon Dioxide (CO²) and all this is being emitted into the air and breathed in by us. Inhaling exhaust can aggravate asthma, cause severe coughing, decrease lung function, and lead to chronic bronchitis.
In Barrie there are 5 Wendy’s restaurants, 7 McDonald's (With drive-thrus), and 21 Tim Horton's! At every one of these places there is a line up of cars spewing out exhaust. Think of how many cars might be in a drive-thru at a time. Now multiply that number by 33. This is how many cars are waiting at a Wendy’s, McDonald's or Tim Horton's drive-thru in Barrie, and that is excluding Burger King, Country Style and other fast-food restaurants and things like drive-thru banks.
There are some solutions to the deadly problem. Many cities have already begun to take action and have issued a ban on drive-thrus. The government should make a complete ban on drive-thrus. You can help on a personal level by doing some of these things. You could send letters to the municipal government about making a drive-thru ban. In the mean while, you can boycott any drive-thrus and encourage others to do the same. If you find yourself in the situation where you just must use the drive-thru, try turning your engine off while waiting. This will save not only the environment, but your money too.
Unreasonable things such as drive-thrus are becoming a serious problem. Not only is it damaging the environment, but it is also damaging our health. We, together, have the power to fix this problem. Say no to drive-thrus!