Category Archives: transportation

Top 5 Green Actions

Lately I’ve been noticing that I am easily distracted. I get my mind set on doing something based on what an “expert in the field” is saying only to turn around and hear another “expert” telling me I need to be doing something else. With all the modes of communication available to me it’s easy to be bogged down with excessive information. I feel like they are just throwing bits and pieces of stories at me and hoping something will stick.

This is especially true when it comes to living green. There are about a hundred thousand things everyone could be doing to build a better world but it would be impossible for every person to do each of these things. I’ve narrowed it down to what I believe are the top five things. These are the actions I personally can see myself continuing to do or working toward doing more often.

1. Buying less stuff

We live in a culture where buying and having more stuff and a bigger place to keep it all is marketed as the fastest way to find happiness. I believe this to be wrong. Work on finding happiness within yourself through relationships, hobbies and activities. Collect only things that you actually need, rather than things that are advertised to make you think you want them.

2. Buying products from socially responsible companies

There are certain things you will probably never stop buying and for each person these special items may be different. Be sure that you are purchasing your favorite items from socially and environmentally responsible companies. Follow the links to my guides below for more information:

And be sure that when you do make purchases you bring your reusable bag.

3. Using alternative forms of transportation

The most significant change an individual could make toward reducing their carbon footprint is to cut down on how much they drive. Trains, buses, bikes, carpool. Avoid spending time in a vehicle occupied only by yourself and your imaginary friend. Read more in Getting Around.

4. Eating less meat and more sustainably grown and harvested food

Meat
Recognize the importance of knowing where your food comes from and what is being used to grow or raise it. Find out more, read Buying Food: The Naked Truth about Local and Organic. Decide for yourself whether fish should be on your menu: 

5. Conserving energy and water at home

When it comes to conserving energy and water, small adjustments can have a big impact. Protect the environment by conserving energy and water with these 100+ tips. Additionally, check out The Pros and Cons of Wind Power.

Getting Around

My first semester of college I took a microeconomics course. I learned a lot from this class but one of the biggest things I took away was the following.

“When traffic is congested, each driver is imposing a cost on all other drivers on the road –he is literally getting in their way (and they are getting in his way.) This cost can be substantial: in major metropolitan areas, each time someone drives to work, as opposed to taking public transportation or working at home, he can easily impose $15 or more in hidden costs on other drivers.” – Microeconomics by Paul Krugman and Robin Wells

In that class I also learned that “You don’t need to know this,” means, “You need to know this,” in professor speak, and that you should never enter a jungle alone (I don’t remember why, but I wrote it down in my notes).

The point is, I had never really thought about the negative economical factors involved with automobiles. The environmental impact is something I’ve always known is terrible. Automobile driving is a major cause of:

  1. Global Warming: Carbon dioxide emissions from autos are the largest contributor to global warming.
  2. Air Pollution: Automobiles produce nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter that contribute to smog and respiratory illnesses.
  3. Water Pollution: Automobile manufacturing, gas and oil production, road runoff of fuel, oil and antifreeze, underground gasoline storage tanks and marine oil spills all pollute our water.
  4. Habitat Destruction: Oil drilling, metals mining and road construction all damage wildlife habitat.
  5. International Conflict: Nations compete over oil reserves. The US currently imports 48% of its oil — the highest levels ever. Many analysts ties this oil dependency to the hundreds of billions we have spent on Persian Gulf wars.
Americans drive an average of 231 miles per week, which comes out to about 12,000 miles per year. For a car with average miles per gallon (21), this is 571 gallows of gasoline annually. Given that every gallon of gasoline used emits 20 pounds of CO2, that means our cars are emitting 11,420 pounds of CO2 each year. The Union of Concerned Scientists stated, “personal use of cars and light trucks (including pickups and SUVs) is the single most damaging consumer behavior.” In fact, the most significant change an individual could make toward reducing their carbon footprint is to cut down on how much they drive. Here’s how:
Lastly, be a considerate and cautious driver. Fast accelerates and decelerations are damaging to your vehicle and the environment. Moral of the story: Be the tortoise, not the hare. In this classic children’s tale, the tortoise proved that slow and steady won the race. The arrogant hare who burst from the gates and slams on his breaks for a rest proves that being a jerk never got anyone anywhere. Or at least that’s what I got out of it.
How do you cut back on your car time?