Monday, February 26, 2007

Arts and Crafts time.....

I've slowly morphed this blog from a blog about being Carfree to a blog that about being Less Car, and now it's been about less carbon. But I really haven't blogged much about less carbon, which is pretty much everything around us, from cars, to plastics, to fertilizers to tons of paper. Basically if you throw away less, you'll be less carbonated. So I started to think about all the residual items of our lives that accompany our consumption. And as I was a thinking, I was a remembering about a Dartmouth professor who instructed his students to carry around a bag with all the stuff they were throwing away for a week I think it was. Of course the lesson is that we throw away a lot without thinking about it. Times are better now with recycling, but we still throw away a lot, or toss it in the recycling bin. A lot of what I throw away is packaging, so I started to think what can I do with that packaging. Too broad a subject, so I decided to ask myself what can I do with the tubes of cardboard that are left over from toilet paper and paper towels. Well this is what I've come up with:

1) Tape them together and stand them vertical. Shove a little paper in the bottom and you have a pencil holder. I really did this.
2) Staple them to the bottom of your table and use them to hold your computer and USB cables.

Still looking for ideas, but what left over items of our stuff can be reused and what for?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Self Rationalization.....

As you know from previous posts, my brother has been in town and to visit his friends I've been letting him borrow my car. So while he has the car, I've returned to alternate transportation. Yesterday, I had to head downtown, and normally I would have ridden my bike. But I decided that I'd add some miles to my latest toy, the iPod Nano+Nike Plus, fitness tracker. This thing is so cool, that I cannot even describe it, but I will blog about it which is almost as good. This little gadget is a receiver that attaches to your iPod Nano, and only the Nano (don't ask my why -- in marketing we call it segmentation). Along with the receiver is a sensor you attach to your shoe (or as Nike would like you to do, purchase a pair of the Nike+ shoes that have a little recess in the sole that you can put the sensor it). In geek-talk, the sensor is a little accelerometer, but it just counts your steps.

So all you do, is turn on the iPod to the training section and you get this lovely voice that tells you how your workout is going while you listen to music. Very cool. When you are done with your workout, you can re-sync your ipod and your progress is loaded onto your computer and the Nike+ website so you find out how you are doing. It helps you track your progress, more on that word later. I realize how much my iPod is part of my life, but not just mine but othere. There's a great post on the "The Compact" blog on iPodus Lostus Freakaoutus. And all I could do is nod in sympathy.

But back to "progress", we live in freaky times right now, a time of perceived absolutes everywhere. The U.S. is fiercely bipartisan right now, but sadly so is the rest of the world is too. I've been enjoying the posts on the Compact yahoogroup, but it at times seems shrill. There is one post where a woman worries about buying new pots, because she finds out that her existing ones have Teflon and she doesn't want to give them to others or buy used ones that may have the same problem. Relax, you're doing better than you've done before. And that's what I love about the iPod+Nike thing. Everytime I sync, I'm a little further a long. And that's where we start.

Friday, February 23, 2007

"The Compact".......

In today's New York Times (which interestingly, even though I live in California has become my local paper, in fact the article I am talking blogging about takes place in S.F. just up the street, ehm, ok freeway) There is an article about "The Compact" a group of individuals who have decided to reduce the impact on the planet by doing the following:

#1 Don't buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)
#2 Borrow, barter, or buy used.

Now I don't know if I can go to that extreme, but I'm fairly good at the following (as my friends and brother will attest):

- Yard sales are a particular joy for me, I find brand new or very lightly used goods there all the time. And this is just opportunistic yard sales, I don't pursue just if it's down the street or along the way, I'll take a look. I got my chairs, some kitchenware, shelves. You name it. Ok, so it doesn't all match, and there are roses on my dresser handles -- but, it gets the job done).
- Freecycle, ( where I got my scanner (major win, compatible with Mac and PC, I believe in diversity) and backgammon set.

These are ways of reducing and reusing that can reduce the impact on the planet. People need people for encouragement, and this is a great community. This is in contrast to going to work where it's all about new stuff.

My favorite comment was that the money they save goes to eating out, and for a foodie like me, I can completely endorse the substitution.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Blood is thicker than gasoline.....

It's amazing what will cause you to share a car. Last week, I blogged about how I had to ask my parents for the car keys when I was visiting them. Well this week, my brother is visiting me, and for various reasons we didn't rent an extra car. So now he's borrowing my car. So this means that I've been riding my bike to work again while he takes the car to head to his meetings. Ahh, what one does for family....Blood is definitely thicker than gasoline.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Dad, Can I Have the Car Keys....

This past weekend I left car obsessed California to head over to Car dependent Colorado and visit my parents. Now, my parents live in the deep suburbs, and I mean deep 'burbs. Where I live in Nor Cal, I can walk 5 minutes and get eggs if I'm making cookies, back at my parents, it's a forty minute walk to get a pack of gum at the gas station (and no I have not experimented with wrigley omelets) Now, parents have many ways of making you feel 16 all over again, but asking them to borrow the car has to be the tops. Now if they would only spend the rest of their retirement in New York City.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Catching Up...the real cost of Carbon...

It's been a while since I've written for various reasons, most of them requiring lots of carbon and car use. It's been rather chilly and increasingly wet in Northern California, so the bike has not got a lot of work, but I have taken mass transit a few times and been carpooling I have one friend who absolutely refuses to carpool, but I'll got into that in another post. The cost of a personal life in terms of driving is high here..*sigh*

Today's New York Times is full of articles about driving and being green. The first is an exploration of "Congestion Pricing" that is charging different amounts to drive at different times. We most often talk about the time saved, but if one must drive, reducing the amount of time and number of people stuck in traffic reduces carbon emissions, idling is incredibly costly in terms of emissions and when an entire parking lot is doing so. You do the math.

The other article in the Times, was about Green Weddings. Not as good a read as the other, but it is a nice counterpoint to the event weddings such as flying to Costa Rica that have been popular in recent years here in Silicon Valley. I still appreciated the party wedding in a backyard that my friends had after a civil ceremony, more reunion than wedding but very enjoyable.