In the Environment

In the Environment

AAA began earning its “reduce, reuse, recycle” street cred back in World War II. During the war years, AAA educated drivers on ways to keep cars on the road longer, urged motorists to slow down to conserve fuel, backed a scrap rubber campaign and monitored ersatz automotive products that came on the market due to shortages and discontinued manufacturing.

Over the decades, clubs have continued to help motorists dispose of motor oil, tires and batteries responsibly. We publish seasonal tips on operating and maintaining vehicles in ways that save fuel and reduce emissions. Two of our signature programs are AAA’s Great Battery Roundup and AAA National Car Care Month.

On a state and national level, AAA supports legislation that encourages drivers and industries to minimize the impact of vehicles on the environment.

Concern for the environment is integrated into our travel business. Since 1992, AAA has collaborated with the National Parks and other environmental groups to promote ecotourism.

At the club level, our employees volunteer for a wide range of environmental activities, from cleanups to tree plantings to events promoting biking.

 Dead automotive batteries are more than a nuisance.

Each year, approximately 97 percent of vehicle batteries are recycled. However, the remaining 3 percent add up to millions of pounds of lead and gallons of sulfuric acid. These can be discharged into the environment, creating health and safety hazards for humans and animals, as well as a potential fire hazard.

We developed the AAA Great Battery Roundup to help the public dispose of automotive and marine lead-acid batteries responsibly by taking them to a local collection point for recycling. Local AAA offices also offer free vehicle battery checks.

AAA also donates a portion of recycling proceeds to various environmental groups and charities.

Contact your local AAA club for more information.

AAA initiated AAA Car Care Month in the 1980s to encourage fuel efficiency and educate the public on how to maintain vehicles to prevent excessive energy consumption and air pollution.

AAA continues to work in cooperation with businesses, civic groups, the government and the media in promoting and coordinating this annual event, held each October.

Members are offered free or discounted inspections through AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities.

As a public service, AAA also uses this event to educate the public about vehicle maintenance and issues related to cleaner-operating and more fuel-efficient cars.

“When you See America, Care for America.”

Ecotourism is not the simple act of traveling to a natural or cultural heritage site. It’s learning to care for the unique qualities of the place itself, without harming it in any way.

In 1992, AAA launched a popular ecotourism promotion called Freedom’s Way. With support from the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency and other environmental groups, AAA produced travel tips and public service messages encouraging travelers to respect the environment and help protectAmerica’s scenic areas.

The prevailing theme was that heavy use or abuse of a site damages the quality of the experience for everyone and sometimes even results in the closure of parks and recreation areas.

Freedom’s Way offers suggestions to:

  • Reduce congestion and pollution
  • Conserve energy
  • Dispose of litter
  • Enjoy wildlife at a distance.

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Activists maintain that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Through consumer education, programs, action plans and lobbying efforts, AAA’s century-long record on environmental advocacy is unquestionably part of the solution.

We can trace our commitment to the environment back to 1919.  Alarmed by rapid destruction of the state’s giant redwood trees at the hands of commercial loggers, AAA’s California State Automobile Association launched a multiyear publicity and lobbying campaign. Working with the Save the Redwoods League, CSAA continued promoting awareness and, in 1927, a bill creating a state park system that protected redwoods became law.

Often, the most heartfelt activism begins in our own backyards. AAA clubs across the country launch grassroots efforts that practice and promote good stewardship and conservation. Here are a few examples:

  • AAA Arizona: As the certifying authority for the Arizona Green Business Program, the club inspects shops that have applied for Green Business certification. Facilities must demonstrate they are reducing hazardous waste and pollution through use of specialized equipment and cleaning methods. Shops meeting these criteria are certified “Green Shops” by the club and Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. Facilities that do not qualify for certification are advised on ways to improve their rating. In 2006, the club earned the Governor’s Pride in Arizona Award for pollution prevention.
  • AAA Washington: Working with the Department of Ecology, the club is involved in programs to minimize the impact of automobile emissions. The environmental practices of its fleet services earned “EnviroStar” recognition.
  • California State Automobile Association: Since 1991, we have worked with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District as co-sponsors of the Spare the Air campaign, designed to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality. CSAA also sponsors the AAA Outdoor Corps, a group of employee volunteers who clean beaches, clear park trails and plant trees in wetlands.
  • AAA Missouri: As representatives on the region’s Air Quality Advisory Committee, club officers have helped enact environmental policies to reduce motor vehicle emissions such as emission inspection, stage II vapor recovery, reformulated gasoline, emission program funding and carpool and vanpool programs.
  • AAA Michigan: The club sponsors Detroit Clean Sweep, a volunteer litter collection campaign. In addition, the club’s Freeway Courtesy Patrol vans cruise local roadways to assist motorists and help reduce congestion.
  • AAA Mid-Atlantic: The club was lead sponsor of a U.S. Department of Transportation “Livable Communities” workshop in Philadelphia that brought together bicycle, pedestrian, transit and safety groups to promote safe and efficient travel.
  • AAA Oregon/Idaho: In association with the environmental group SOLV, the clubs participate in an annual beach clean-up. AAA also partnered with the Oregon Environmental Council and the Northwest Automotive Trades Association to replace — free of charge — hazardous mercury light switches found in hoods and trunks of many automobiles. The ounce of mercury contained in each can contaminate a 20-acre lake.
  • AAA Lancaster County: The Pennsylvania club earned an Outstanding Partner Award from the state Department of Environmental Protection for its Ozone Action Program. The club also belongs to an advisory committee that promotes to multiple modes of transportation systems that conform to federal air quality standards.
  • The Automobile Club of Southern California: The club helped establish the Southern California Ride share program and supports transit projects that provide an appropriate benefit for their expense, including commuter transit services in the Inland Empire.
  • AAA Oregon/Idaho: Inspired by a CAA program inVancouver, the club piloted a U.S. program offering roadside assistance to cyclists. Bike Assist supports members with simple bike repairs or transportation to a bike shop or their home. 

To find out more about AAA’s environmental positions and activities, contact your local AAA club.