Ok, I’ll keep the scooter

Coverd BridgeLast year, I thought about selling my scooter.
(It was part of our crazy dream to sell our house and cars and move to a big city to live in an apartment and use public transportation. That didn’t work out.)

This year, with gas prices touching $4 and it being 80 degrees in March, I think I’ll keep the scooter. It gets about 95 mpg and it’s just too fun. I get to smell the flowers and I can always find a good parking place at work. And my gloves aren’t leather! But they’re still super cool.

So, I’m keeping my scooter.

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Charge your electric car at Walmart

Electric vehicle charging stationDrivers of electric cars can charge their car for free at the Easton Walmart. The store recently opened the first public charging station in partnership with American Electric Power. More charging stations are popping up around Ohio as electric cars like the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf become more popular. American company, ECOtality (pretty cool stuff there!) provided the charging stations. –Columbus Dispatch

Walmart is also trying to innovate its shipping fleet with hybrids, biodiesel, etc. They estimate they could save $300 million.

Hybrid, 8 yrs later

Honda Civic Hybrid

We have a 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid. The myth about hybrid cars was that the main hybrid battery would die after 8 years. We haven’t found this to be the case at all. The battery is still going strong, working as hard as ever. It still charges when we brake, and assists the motor when we accelerate.

During the winter, we put snow tires on this car and it gets about 37 mpg. In spring, summer, and fall, it gets about 40-42 mpg. That’s pretty good mileage.

P.S. This car will be for sale soon. Stay tuned.

The Weekly Savor

To continue our savoring of the environment…

Bathroom mirror – Instead of using single-use paper towels or chemically wipes to clean my bathroom mirror, I keep a sponge behind the faucet and I use that, followed by a dry washcloth dedicated to the purpose, to wipe the mirror. This sponge is only used for the mirror, so it lasts a long time. P.S. you can microwave a wet sponge for about 2 minutes to disinfect it and make it last longer.

Saturday shopping – Don’t forget to bring your reusable water bottle, coffee/tea mug, and maybe a little snack pack when you go shopping. This will reduce your impact and keep you close to home, even while you’re away. Bringing a snack from home can cut down on the urge to grab a snickers in the checkout line … remember, we have a fruit strip or pretzels in the car…

Keep those tires inflated – It’s true, proper tire pressure saves gas. I did a little experiment with my car. (totally inefficient, but I’m curious) My car normally gets around 36 mpg. Last fall, the dashboard light told me that I needed to check my tire pressure. I ignored it for a full tank of gas. I averaged around 32 mpg during that time. I promptly filled the tires and was back to my usual efficiency. So, keep those tires inflated. When the temperature changes drastically, the tire pressure can change… keep an eye on those tires in the spring and fall. Care2 agrees.

Just don’t buy sandwich baggies – If you don’t have them, you’ll have to find another container, perhaps a reusable container, and it will be easier to make the switch. We haven’t bought sandwich baggies for years. Instead, we use little Ziploc reusable/recyclable containers. They also help your sandwich or snacks from getting crushed in your purse. This mom highlights some other things you can use to replace your sandwich bags. One of these days, I’m going to try making my own bags!

Remember, saving the environment saves money. One huge bag of pretzels costs $1 and lasts for weeks – way better than single-serving snacks in the checkout line. Using reusable containers saves on the monthly purchase of more plastic bags. And, of course, we all like to save on gas.

Retrospective

I thought it would be fun to start the official relaunch/comeback with a look back at some posts from the past few years. I hope you find something that inspires you.

(Some of the links in these posts may have expired. Sorry about that.)

Transportation Ease

The Akron Metro RTA system has completed the new hub! It’s a fantastic place with heated floors, schedule monitors, free wifi, and security. Akron’s commitment to the Metro, and to making our city bike-friendly is outstanding. Ohio.com has great photos.

If you don’t take the bus, you can text Google for directions and save paper by having them sent to your phone. Simply text your starting address “to” and the destination and Google will send directions to your phone.

Test Drives

I’d prefer to talk about what other people are doing to reduce their impact on the planet, but I think lots of people are interested in the fuel efficient cars. So, here’s my review of a few cars.
After careful consideration of our Car Math, my husband and I decided that it’s time to replace the Suzuki. It’s been a great car, and I recommend it to someone who needs to haul stuff. However, it’s unnecessarily big for us, and frankly it uses too much gas. Saturday afternoon, we headed up to the Bedford Automile to drive the Smart ForTwo, and the Toyota Yaris. (The Honda Fit is just outside our price range, but another great alternative.) Committed to not driving an automatic, we set out. First stop… Smart.

smartThe Smart ForTwo was fun to drive. It has a “manual automatic” transmission, which means you can drive the same car as an automatic, or as a clutchless manual. The manual option consists of pushing the gear shifter up for higher gears and down to lower the gear. (not instinctive for a traditional manual driver, for whom 2nd is down) Two models also have paddles on the steering wheel for “shifting.” As I mentioned, you can also drive it as an automatic. The compactness is very practical for city driving. Most cars only have 1 passenger, so again, the Smart makes a lot of sense. It’s also very roomy. Some test drives show a 6 ft man fitting comfortably in the car – even moving the seat forward. The bad thing is that you feel every bump, which I’m used to on the scooter, so no big deal. My husband really liked it. But, I like the traditional clutch-manual transmission. Plus, for the same amount of money, the Yaris is only 4 mpg less efficient, and still seats 5. So… on to the Yaris.

The Toyota Yaris was great. It handles nicely, and the engine is quiet. The best thing is that it’s really big and roomy inside. I doubt I’ll ever put someone in the back seat, but if I did, there’s plenty of space. It has compartments and cup holders to spare! You could fit everything in there. The weird thing is the instrument panel is in the middle of the dash “in line with the rearview mirror,” as the sales person reminded me. Still, it’s not intuitive. I would say that it makes you really pay attention to how the car feels to determine when you should shift. So far, the Yaris is the winner. Just for fun, we drove the Scion xD.

The Scion xD was so awesome! The clutch was smooth and so fun to drive. Unfortunately, it was also just out of our price range, and too big for me. It can also have a lot of customizations. If you’re looking for a fun stick shift with good gas mileage, drive the xD.

My vote is for the Yaris. It’s a fun little car! It’s actually not that little. Why doesn’t anyone make a little car anymore? It’s short – nose to bumper – but it’s taller than the Civic. Check out FuelEconomy.gov to see gas mileage and EPA ratings.

Make your own biodiesel, and convert your car!

Disclaimer: this post is for people who don’t want to buy gas anymore.

Visit Instructables.com for detailed how-to’s on converting your diesel car to biodiesel. Diesel cars are more efficient than conventional gas to begin with. Unfortunately, they’re rare and hard to find. Check cars.com and craigslist.org for a listing of cars in your area. The good news is that VW will begin selling diesel Jettas and Rabbits (or Golfs) in the US soon. So, find yourself a diesel car, and check out these fantastic how-to’s.

Convert your car to biodiesel. Yes, a small conversion is necessary. Vegetable oil will harden in the cold, so you can add elements to run the car on diesel until it warms up and then switch to the vegetable oil, or warm the veggie oil tank so it stays in liquid form.

Make your own biodiesel processor. A small amount of processing is necessary – simply to remove food particles from the used vegetable oil. For the time and energy used, it’s well worth it.

Finally, how to make your own biodiesel. Easy as pie. No more gas!!

If you do any of these things, please keep us posted. It just makes so much sense to reuse vegetable oil and run your car with it. Diesel engines were invented to run on vegetable oil.