Saturday, October 12, 2013

Home Recyclers Need to be Work Recyclers Too

I am an avid recycler at home. I have a set of recycling bins that sit just inside my garage where we place the recyclables that are eventually taken to the local recycling station. My son loads the bin up daily with the bottles, containers, jugs, and other items that are destined for being recycled.  

A few years ago, I noticed that I wasn't nearly as diligent about recycling at my work site as I was at home.  I had just drank a diet soda and flipped it into the trash can. There weren't any bins at work to place the bottles so I, unconsciously, threw it away. I decided that it was unacceptable to be a home recycler but a work waster.

I bought one extra bin like the ones I had at home and took it to work. I placed it in the corner of my work space and would toss the recyclables there. Eventually, I would address a work wide initiative, but at first I decided I needed to get my attitude toward recycling right. It was easy to do and, even if it was just a single person doing the right thing, it did make an impact.

If you are a home recycler and a work waster, why don't you make an effort to change. You don't have to buy a bin. Just take some paper bags and put your recyclables in them. That is another way to utilize plastic bags if you have some. If you don't have a plastic bag, then find a cardboard box. Just make an effort.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My Green Vacation

I had one of the best vacation trips of my life this summer, and best of all it was a green trip.  In fact, I saved a huge amount of money on gasoline. What did I do to save that money? I rode my bicycle. That's right.  My vacation this summer was a 503 mile bicycle tour from Lubbock, Texas to Las Cruces, New Mexico and then back up to Cloudcroft, New Mexico.  I not only traveled that distance, I also climbed around 14,000 feet.  As you can see by the photo of my bicycle and me during one of the early days of the ride, I hauled a trailer with everything I needed for the trip.

The ride was one of the toughest, yet most memorable rides I have ever completed.  It took me 9 days total and 7 days of riding to make the entire trip.  The ride took me from the flat, hot desert floor up to the gorgeous, and much cooler mountains.  I rode down onto the desert floor once again only to turn around and climb 6,000 feet to Cloudcroft on the final day.  You can read about each day of the tour at my cycling blog.  It is called The Average Road Cyclist. There are photos of the ride. I think you will be surprised at the differences in the terrain on the ride.

I saved about 18 gallons of gas by riding my bicycle instead of my car, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.  I also contributed to CO2 emissions savings. According to BikePortland.com, riding a bicycle is about 10 times more efficient than driving your car, even when taking the added needs of food to fuel a cyclist.  A car will emit about 271 grams of CO2 per kilometer traveled versus only 21 grams by a cyclist.  I would say that is a rather significant difference and one that I am quite proud to have done.

Using these figures, we can figure out how much the savings were for my cycling vacation.  The 503 miles equates to 809.5 kilometers.  My total CO2 emissions were 17,000 grams for the total trip.  Driving my car would have meant that I emitted 219, 375 grams.  That means that my ride saved over 200,000 grams of CO2 that would have been otherwise put into the atmosphere plus I got to see New Mexico up close and personal.

I hope it inspires you to do your part to make our environment just a little bit cleaner.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Commuting to Work on Your Bike Makes a Green Difference

Did you know that a car that travels only 12,500 miles in a year generates approximately 11,500 pounds of carbon dioxide? That figure comes from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) so you can bet that it is accurate. That is a lot of carbon dioxide and you can do something about it with your bicycle.

If you rode your bike to work just one day a week, you would reduce your carbon footprint by 20%. It is difficult to put an exact amount of savings from your carbon footprint because your mileage to and from is different than others, but the fact remains that riding a bike one day each week will cut the amount of times you drive a motorized vehicle from 5 days down to 4.

Here is another benefit. It will cut the amount of money needed for gasoline to drive to work by 20% too, not to mention the health benefits you will also derive. The increased health benefits will cut your need to visit a doctor and use other medical services, so riding your bike just one day each week can have a significant impact on your budget.

Go ride and have fun doing it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Conserving Water in the Home

Most of Earth’s water, 97%, is salt water that is found in oceans.  Only 3% of the water on Earth is fresh and, of that, less than 1% is fresh water that is available for human consumption.  For that reason alone, people should be conserving water as much as possible.  In the United States, most everybody has access to as much clean and safe water as they want. It is easy, as a result, to waste water without giving it a thought. Here are some simple ways that you can do your part ot help conserve water around your home.
1.       Take shorter showers. If you take tub baths, do not fill the tub as high as normal.
2.       Scrub vegetables in a basin of hot water instead of under running water.
3.       Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator so that you do not have to turn on the tap and wait for the water to turn cold.
5.       If you have a lawn, water it early in the morning or late in the afternoon so that the sun will not evaporate the water.
6.       Only run the washing machine when you have a full load.
7.       Do not pre-rinse the dishes before placing them in the dishwasher and only run the dishwasher when you have a full load.
Will these suggestions really make a difference?  If you take a 10 minute shower, you will use an average amount of 25 gallons of water. Cut that time down to 5 minutes and you cut your consumption of water down to 12.5 gallons.  If everyone in a class of 25 students did that, we would have a savings of just over 300 gallons each day. Can you imagine the savings if a few million people adopted this practice? Small efforts can turn into huge savings if everyone just does their own part.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Proof That Going Green Does Not Have to Be Chic or Hip

Ampere's Angel Motorbike
It seems that the more the green initiative becomes mainstreamed that people think going green has to  be chic or hip. Nothing could be farther from the truth and a bicycle company in India has proved it.  A few years ago, an Indian start up company, called Ampere developed an electric motorcycle (actually a bicycle with an electric motor on it) that people would actually want to purchase.  They had tried to get people to buy a sleek shiny bike that portrayed the image of urban hipster. It did not work. People rejected it.

The company went back to the drawing board and created an ugly, heavy, rugged three wheeled motorbike that only goes 15 mph but is capable of carrying very heavy loads. Customers came out of the woodwork to buy these cycles.  The main customers were farmers and tradesmen in the southern India countryside. Most of these people liked the fact that the bike could take a licking but keep on ticking. The best thing about the motorized bike is that it costs only $386. The elctricity to fuel it costs nothing for the farmers because they get electricity for free.

If more companies would look to practical solutions instead of chic or hip designs for making merchandise that gives consumers a green alternative, they might find them to be more successful.

How Craigslist Can Make You Greener

Craigslist is known for many things, but did you know that Craigslist can hold a pivotal place in helping make you more green? It's true.  Just one simple category in Craigslist can do more to help you go green than all the others.  It is the "Free" category Under the "For Sale" heading. Let me explain.

I was thinking about making a nice brick lined flower garden in my backyard. I went to Home Depot and Lowe's to price the bricks that it would take to complete this project.  It was much more than I had planned on spending.  I decided to go onto Craigslist to see if there were any bricks for sale.  I looked but did not find what I needed. Just before I quit, I stumbled across the "Free" category. Right there at the very top was an ad for free bricks. It said that I could have as many as I wanted if I would just haul them myself.  I called the number, got the address, and drove over to the location, and hauled them away.

This is a picture of the bricks in my backyard.  I have just had time to lay them out. I will mortar them this spring but you get the idea of what it will look like. There are no flowers yet because it is winter, but this summer this will be a nice little addition to my backyard. I even had enough to make a small walkway leading up to them.

By giving these bricks a second life, recycling was put into practice.  It also lessens the need for more bricks to be manufactured, which can take its toll on the environment.  This is just one way that Craigslist can be used to go green. Look at the free category on Craigslist and you might find all that you need in order to re-purpose an item into something really cool for yourself.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Electronic Waste Problem is Growing

Electronic Waste (E-Waste) is becoming an enormous problem.  E-Waste is the old cell phones, tablets, computers, laptops, and televisions that end up in landfills.  Why do they end up in landfills?  People buy new ones and they don't know what to do with their old ones and they often just end up tossed into the trash and carried away to the landfill.  Here's the problem. Those electronic devices are full of harmful chemicals and those chemicals can eventually end up seeping into our groundwater or, worse, being released into the atmosphere if the devices are burned in incinerators.

Did you know that up to 70% of all heavy metals in landfills come from old electronic devices?  Here is another stat that might make you think.  Only 15-20% of all electronic devices end up recycled. The rest of it ends up harming our environment.  Is there anything you can do about it. Yes. You can take your old phones, computers, televisions, etc. to the place where you are buying a new one and let them recycle them. If they don't have a recycling program, you might want to think about looking somewhere else to buy your item.

Every year, E-waste is getting worse. It will become a problem that future generations will have to deal with if we do not do something now.  By doing your part, at least the landfills will have a few less electronic devices and the environment will love you for that.