Showing posts with label Fundraisers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fundraisers. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Car lovers seek green energy, not gas guzzlersStory Highlights

(CNN) -- Daniel Gray loves automobiles so much that it almost feels wrong to drive another vehicle: "I'll admit it. I love my car, but I cheat on it with a different car every week," he said.

Car reviewer Daniel Gray loves to drive, but he decided to try getting around without a car for one afternoon.

The Belle Mead, New Jersey, resident runs the car-review Web site with a focus on fuel efficiency, but even he strays over to public transit every now and then. Nowadays, even the biggest car lovers are taking notice of energy conservation.

Readers may not realize a guy who revs engines for a living might need a ride back home after dropping off a test car in New York. In these cases, he typically takes a train most of the 55-mile trip and gets a car ride for the rest of the route.

Gray shared an iReport video explaining how he decided -- for one day only, he emphasizes -- to see whether he could go entirely without the assistance of an automobile on the return trip. His journey was successful, but he spent an extra hour fumbling around with local buses and taking an unintentional detour to a local mall. Watch how drivers ditched cars for a day »

"Taking car-free trips back from the city is an eye-opener," he said, noting that the area could benefit from better bus service to get to the Princeton Junction train station. Car reviewer goes car-free (temporarily)

Gray says he believes government policies have supported urban sprawl instead of efficiency and transit, and 2008's gas-price spiral provided a lesson in the importance of conserving fuel and using public transit.

"Energy independence and alternative fuels represent this country's future. They are our best shot for economic revival."
Don't Miss

iReporters go car-free for a day
Daniel Gray's Web site: Family shuttles children around with bikes Cargo bike carries items like a car

Since he first started buying cars, Gray has been concerned with fuel conservation.
He got his early muscle cars during the 1979 gas crisis, which meant he could only gas them up on alternating days of the week. With a few mechanical tweaks to his Tri-Power GTO, he could use less fuel. When gas prices became an issue in 2007 and 2008, he decided to use his experiences to launch a blog.

"I could feel the winds of change and only had to look back to my youth to know what to do."
With so many drivers on the road, he says small but consistent reductions in everyone's fuel expenditure would have a huge impact on overall energy consumption. Gray is skeptical that high-powered executives with fancy cars will ever want to abandon their wheels, but he says employers should look into telecommuting options for their employees.

He is one of the estimated 4 percent of people who work from home, according to 2008 U.S. Census Bureau numbers. The same study reported that more than 75 percent of U.S. workers drive to work alone and only about 11 percent carpool.

On his Web site, he evaluates cars' gas mileage. Special pages are devoted to the most efficient vehicles. All sorts of cars are examined, and he takes particular interest in hybrids, diesels and other vehicles claiming to be efficient while also looking at more traditional popular cars.
Gray says some people may not be able to avoid driving, but they could start using a lighter foot on the gas pedal to save some gas. Traveling at a steady speed and allowing reaction time helps conserve energy, he said.

He has found fuel efficiency gauges in some newer cars to be a godsend. The dashboard indicators tell drivers when they're driving in an efficient manner. Buying a car with a built-in sensor or installing an aftermarket gauge is one easy way for an ordinary person to save gas, he says.

At the dealership, Gray says car buyers should make miles per gallon a priority. He said he thinks Europeans have better access to cleaner cars than Americans do and encourages looking into fuel-efficient vehicles such as hybrids. Gray is a big proponent of clean diesel vehicles, which he says haven't gotten the attention they deserve. He also expressed hopes about alternative fuels made from algae and hydrogen.

"We're going to need them all," he said.

John Pucher, a professor of urban planning at Rutgers University, says the average American is using too much fuel, and many people have become almost "addicted" to their cars. He believes that driving less and finding alternative ways of getting around are in people's best self-interest and that selfish motivations are frequently overlooked in transit promotion.

Pucher, whose voicemail introduces him as "car-free John," hasn't owned a car since 1972. Also a New Jersey resident, he notes that transit options serve some areas extremely well and other areas not at all.

"The problem is all your transit is based on going to New York. If you want to go from suburb to suburb, you'll find that there are very little options."

He says he has noticed that people are often less likely to take public transit for leisure trips than for work commutes and adds many car trips are short enough to be walked.

He hopes that governments will take notice of individuals' desire to use other ways of getting around. A lot of money spent on cars, gas and maintenance could be used for other things, Pucher says, adding that using alternative forms of transportation forces people to get exercise.
Columnist and car reviewer Roman Mica of Boulder, Colorado, also said he thinks people will seek out alternative transportation and efficient vehicles if doing so is in their self-interest. He also hopes people will also try to set an example for others.

Mica makes video reviews of efficient vehicles and sometimes pits the cars against each other, because those are the cars he thinks his children will be driving years from now. He even goes after luxury cars. He posted a video on examining a Lexus hybrid that bills itself as "the fastest hybrid in the world." Does the Lexus hybrid live up to the hype?
He loves cars -- such as the Prius he drives -- and especially loves new technology. He adds that environmental friendliness is part of a car's image.

"People buy cars because they're emotionally attached to them. You buy with your heart not your brain. You buy because of what the car says about you and who you want to be." Prius vs. Prius showdown

Like Gray, Mica works at home. This saves fuel on commutes, but other kinds of driving can be required. Outside of work, Mica tries to take public transit when he is traveling to Denver for events, ballgames and visits.

He says finding ways to use less of finite oil resources will help people save money in the long run and the market will probably encourage or support their increased use.

He is a proponent of energy-efficient vehicles and researches their carbon footprints on Web sites such as to estimate how they compare with standard cars.

Based on his experiences, he opines that driving a standard sedan is like driving two Priuses. Upgrading to a Ford F-150 is similar to putting three of the hybrids on the road. By considering one's carbon footprint in a car purchase and driving habits, he says, one person can make a big difference.

He says people should try to make small changes in how they drive because they can feel secure in knowing that they have made a small difference, but more importantly, they can set off a chain reaction among people they influence.

"It begins with one person," he said. "The government can mandate all it wants, but in the end, it comes down to personal choices and personal responsibility. You're making a difference because you believe that it starts with you and it ends with you, especially today when people are very frustrated with how

Monday, June 29, 2009

Why Does Bottled Water Have an Expiration Date?

Our very own Jason English is wondering why his Poland Spring has a “drink by” date on it when common sense dictates that water doesn’t go bad. To him I say, “It’s your own damn fault.”

Well, not personally his fault, but the fault of his home state of New Jersey.

A 1987 NJ state law required all food products sold there to display an expiration date of two years or less from the date of manufacture. Labeling, separating and shipping batches of expiration-dated water to the Garden State seemed a little inefficient to bottled water producers, so most of them simply started giving every bottle a two-year expiration date, no matter where it was going.
Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has never established or suggested a limitation on the shelf life of bottled water as long as it’s produced in accordance with regulations and the bottle remains properly sealed. Makes sense, because it’s, you know…water. Even Dirty Jerz caught on to this fact and amended the law a few years ago. But the expiration date has been an industry norm for so long that many producers have just kept it on there.

Better WIth Age? While “expired” unopened bottled water isn’t going to do you any harm, it isn’t going to get better with age, either. The plastic that water is packaged in — usually polyethylene terephthalate (PET) for retail bottles and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) for water cooler jugs –- is slightly porous, so the water can pick up smells and tastes from the outside world. Keep a case of bottled water in the basement for a year or so and it’s going to pick up some interesting flavors. There’s nothing better on a hot summer day than a 2007 Evian, with hints of dust and a crisp kitty litter finish!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

U.S. Oil Demand Hit Lowest Point in Decade

U.S. oil demand in December was revised down by 4.0 percent from an early estimate to a final number of 19.199 million barrels per day, bringing consumption for the year to its lowest level since 1998, the Energy Information Administration said Friday.

U.S. oil demand in December was 794,000 bpd lower than the previous estimate of 19.993 million bpd and down 1.520 million bpd, or 7.3 percent, from oil demand of 20.719 million bpd a year earlier, the agency said.

U.S. oil demand for 2008 was down 6.1 percent, or 1.261 million bpd lower, to 19.419 million bpd, compared with 2007, the lowest yearly demand level since 1998, the EIA said.

Monday, October 20, 2008

every color of the rainbow

Scientists have created a new material that could dramatically increase the efficiency of solar cells, by literally capturing every color of the rainbow.

Whereas other materials only catch a small range of light frequencies, and therefore only a small fraction of the potential energy, the new invention is capable of absorbing all the energy contained in sunlight. According to team leader, Prof. Malcolm Chisolm, “There are other such hybrids out there, but the advantage of our material is that we can cover the entire range of the solar spectrum.”

The discovery, made by an elite team at Ohio State University, opens the door to the development of a new generation of hyper-efficient solar cells. Although at this point the material is said to be some years from commercial development, the university has enough confidence in its potential to commit a large slice of its $100 million ‘high impact’ research budget to the research team over the next five years.

Such long-term investment lends a great deal of credibility to the project, and is likely to increase the chances of the invention moving from the laboratory towards commercial development.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

How to: Recycle Your Computer

One of the best ways to get clean recycling is simple: just ask questions. A reputable recycler should be able to tell you where hardware is sent, and if the company exports or uses prison labor. The recycler should also be able to tell you how it handles data destruction

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Geo-Engineering for a Tailor-Made Planet

Written by Michelle Bennett

Geo-Engineering is “the deliberate modification of Earth’s environment on a large scale “to suit human needs and promote habitability”‘ (via Wikipedia). Until recently it was the stuff of science fiction, a god-like power regulated to unseen aliens or super-futuristic societies. Occasionally planetary catastrophe also ensued.

Yet with climate change and global warming sparking alarm across the globe, some scientists have started to explore the possibility of altering the natural environment on a global scale. Several strategies are outlined below:

There are other proposed methods, of course, so consider these as an introduction only. It’s important to note that geo-engineering scientists do not propose this as solutions to global warming, but as emergency measures to avert large-scale human suffering. The only reason it has been suggested that we consider implementing these strategies in the near future is because, in the view of Dr. Paul Crutzen, “there is little reason to be optimistic.” He was referring to current international political efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses.

Of course there is controversy and plenty of people who disagree with implementing geo-engineering. Scientifically, there’s the problem of data; we simply don’t know enough about these huge natural systems to safely manipulate them. There’s also the consequences we are certain about: in most cases, the benefits and detrimental effects will be unevenly distributed across the planet. While one part of the world prospers under cooler climes, another would have their problems compounded.

Who can make that decision? What are the ethics? What would be the social, economic, and cultural implications of upheaval, conflict, and/or refugees in the areas that benefit? Even if we do manage to (partially) improve the weather, the social impact across the globe could negate the benefits. Geo-engineering (but not necessarily geo-engineers) assumes that humans being can and should manipulate the planet to improve their lot, but many people have pointed out that we must still change our habits and lifestyles regardless. Whether we attempt geo-engineering or not, we must still invest in renewable resources.

Geo-engineers propose this as an “emergency only” measure, but in my opinion, using it with even the best intentions could set a dangerous precedent. Global warming is an unintended form of geo-engineering; is it wise to fight fire with fire? Is it ethical to combat one “evil” with something slightly “less evil”? Could any nation, organization, or individual with enough money hijack the globe by using, or threatening to use, geo-engineering against the populous?

Technology will play a critical role in combating and adapting to climate change, but at some point we will have to limit ourselves. Where should we draw the line, and who will decide? Many critics of geo-engineering agree that we should spend our energy and resources on a solution to the problem, not just to treat the symptoms. There is no fast or simple fix; if we intend to live well for the long haul, we’ll just have to adapt to the limitation of our planet - or expand onto another.

What do you think? Take part in a discussion on our Green Options forum
(Tropical Storm Nargis courtesy of NASA)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Virginia, no, not the eWaste!!

Virginia next to enact e-scrap legislation?

The Old Dominion State appears ready to become the next U.S. state to implement a manufacturer-responsibility system for the recovery of used electronics. One measure already has been signed by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, while another waits in the wings. Having passed both chambers, House Bill 344 requires computer manufacturers to implement a program solely for the recovery of desktop and laptop computers, computer monitors and other computer-related display devices. The state-approved program may consist of several different recovery options, including:

A mail-back system, where consumers could go online, print a prepaid shipping label and ship the product free of charge

A physically staffed collection site

The use of collection events. Manufacturers also could recover used and moribund electronics by creating a joint management group that consisted of other producers, processors, re-use organizations, non-profit corporations or retailers, just to name a few. The most notable provision of HB 344, though, is that it forbids the state from imposing any advanced recovery or annual registration fees upon either the consumer or the manufacturer. The measure, however, does allow the state to issue penalties against manufacturers in violation of the act, including $10,000 as of the second violation and $25,000 for each subsequent violation. The program would take effect July 1, 2009.

Already receiving Governor Kaine's signature, HB 343 will prohibit the disposal of CRTs in a waste-to-energy or solid waste disposal facility, provided the locality has implemented a recycling program capable of handling CRT waste. The act takes effect July 1, 2008.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

WHEN CALIFORNIA PASSED the Electronic Waste and Recycling Act of 2003, it became the first state to legislate the handling and disposal of e-waste. The act establishes a point-of-purchase fee ranging from $6 to $10 that consumers will pay to retailers to help cover the costs of e-waste recycling.

Nevertheless, the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB), Sacramento, expects the management and operational costs for haulers, municipalities, and recyclers of e-waste to increase as the number of one-day special events to collect the waste grows. Curbside and commingled collection methods often are not practical for monitors and tvs because these items tend to be too bulky for residential pickups and have high breakage rates.

In anticipation of this trend, and to help smooth out some of the challenges of hosting collection events, Peninsula Sanitary Services Inc. (PSSI), Stanford, Calif., Dell Computers, Round Rock, Texas, and the National Recycling Coalition (NRC), Washington, D.C., developed a public-private partnership and sponsored a two-day e-waste collection workshop at Stanford University in October. The workshop uncovered three top challenges to e-waste collection events: controlling finances, managing logistics and quantifying the event.

Controlling finances

Based on PSSI's workshop, the partners estimate an e-waste collection event can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $25,00 for a small event to $25,000 to $50,000 for a large hauler. PSSI's collection budget was approximately $15,000.

Workshop leaders say inviting corporate sponsors and donors to participate — a task that is not so easily accomplished — is one of the best ways to cut costs. Few major computer manufacturers are willing to pay for the collection of e-waste that is not their own. Local ordinances also may prevent a sponsor from advertising on public property with banners or logos. However, obtaining federal, state, local or private foundation grants and soliciting volunteers will help entice corporate sponsors because companies will be more likely to participate if the financial burden will be shared.

To attract unpaid volunteers, companies should allow partners, civic groups or nonprofit organizations to receive the donated computers. Volunteer Match [] can be used to help find volunteer event staffing. Remember to train volunteers and to obtain a waiver or signed release from them excusing the waste hauler or event sponsor from liability.

Managing logistics

Logistics are best left up to professional service providers because they have expertise in acquiring the necessary permits, security, traffic control, insurance, signage, safety equipment, containers, semi tractor-trailers, forklifts, drivers and material handlers. Additionally, a key component of the collection of monitors is reuse or resale. It is important that a logistics company with experience in handling electronics be used to ensure a higher yield rate on materials.

Quantifying the event

Quantifying an event can help advertise and promote future workshops, and it can land additional grant money. Numbers and statistics will prove to potential sponsors and to the public that the waste hauler is operating efficiently.

PSSI collected more than 47 tons of surplus, obsolete or end-of-life monitors, computers and related equipment. With a budget of $15,000, collection costs amounted to approximately $319 per ton, which is toward the low end of the spectrum. Studies conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington, D.C., state that e-waste collection costs range from $240 per ton to $1,240 per ton.

In addition to adding e-waste runs to curbside routes, increasing one-day e-waste events demonstrates the waste industry's concern and creativity in solving an environmental problem. More information on e-waste events can be found in “Computer Recycling for Education,” available at Barnes & Noble Bookstores or

HVAC boot cleared of Asbestos in Los Angeles