A token of my eco-love (Day 119)…

June 27, 2007


Now that I’ve sold the car, I’ll be riding my bike as much as possible. However, Quentin (that’s his name) will only get me so far. Yesterday, for example, as I was cycling home from work through the ravine, an air tumor suddenly appeared in his front tire, growing and growing and finally exploding with a loud bang on a quiet residential street, forcing me to walk to the nearest streetcar stop and take the TTC the rest of the way home (using a $5 bill because that’s all I had in my wallet).

I realized then that I’d need to invest in a proper Metropass, or at least some tickets or tokens so I wouldn’t be constantly stressing out on the steps of the 501 about whether or not I had $2.75 in exact change.

Because I hope to repair Quentin as soon as possible, a Metropass might be a bit of a waste, financially. When it comes to the other options, at first it seems tickets would be the most environmentally sound, but they get thrown out after each use and probably aren’t printed on post-consumer recycled paper with soy-based ink (note to Adam Giambrone: feel free to look into this).

Tokens, on the other hand, get reused, and while I’m not exactly sure what the manufacturing process involves, I feel like something so teensie couldn’t possibly make such a big carbon footprint … but then I also like reassuring myself with sketchy logic like this, so there you go.

I think, then, that I’ll opt for the tokens, unless any public transit experts, subway-button-wearing TTC fanatics or Giambrone himself tells me otherwise in the comments below.

No more car! No more car! No more car! (Day 117)…

June 25, 2007


I did it. I sold the car.

It wasn’t an easy decision: A whole lot has happened in the seven years I’ve had my Bugaboo, and saying goodbye made me pretty misty-eyed. But it went to a good home — a nice girl from just outside the city, who found my listing on Facebook‘s marketplace.

We settled on a fair price, shook hands, and as she drove off (not quite into the sunset, but almost), I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I’ve pumped up the tires on my bike, and I’m officially ready to move on to a more debt-free, carbon-free lifestyle.

Rolling down the windows (Day 73)…

May 12, 2007

There’s nothing worse than sitting in a hot, stuffy car in the middle of summer. Actually, on second thought, there are plenty of things worse than that — but something about the smell of heated upholstery makes me feel sick. It also makes me want to reach for the air-conditioning switch rather than simply roll down the windows.

Of course, this only ends up using more gas, in turn creating more smog, which in turn depletes the ozone layer and makes the planet even hotter — in fact, in my city, we’ve already had our first smog and UV warnings and it’s not yet June.

Now, as this story points out, while using air conditioning can drag down a car’s fuel economy by 10 to 20%, driving with your windows down at 45 mph or faster creates wind drag, which also decreases fuel economy.

So my plan is to not use the a/c in the car if I’m tooting around the city, but to also make sure my windows are up if I’m on the highway (in which case I might turn the air-conditioning on, but keep it at the lowest setting). If it gets unbearably hot, I’m thinking maybe I should invest in one of those hand-held paper fans, or just up my ice cap intake to five per day (there’s only, what, 11 grams of fat in a small one, right?).

Everybody’s walking for the weekend (Day 30)…

March 30, 2007


Well, at least I am — or riding my bike, or taking public transit — because from now on I’m leaving my car parked in the garage on weekends, from when I wake up on Saturday until I go to sleep on Sunday (so if I happen to sleep-drive at 4 a.m. Monday morning, that is totally acceptable!).

Here’s the part where everyone leaves comments like, “You know what you should really do? GET RID OF THE DAMN CAR!”). I’ve considered this, and it might be a possibility in the future, but because it takes me an hour and a half to take transit to work (streetcar, then train, then bus, then walking — it’s not my fault, it’s the office that’s in the boonies) and it takes me almost two hours to bike (I tried last summer and had to shower three times that day), yet just 20 minutes to drive, I need the car for work.

On the weekend, however, especially now that it’s Spring, leaving the car behind shouldn’t be that big of an issue. Even if I’m getting groceries over at the St. Lawrence Market or going out for a drink at night up in the Annex, I think I can manage with two feet and two wheels. Of course, like many of my green changes, I’m sure that come February of next year I’ll be crying into my homemade compost bin about it.

Photo courtesy of pastorbuhro on Flickr

Under pressure (Day 11)…

March 11, 2007

tire pressure

Tire pressure, that is. As of today, I’m going to make sure I check my tire pressure at least four times a year — as the seasons change.

As Larry West says on About.com, “When tires are not inflated to the pounds per square inch (PSI) rating recommended by manufacturers, they are less ’round’ and require more energy to begin moving and to maintain speed. As such, under-inflated tires do indeed contribute to pollution and increase fuel costs.”

According to the website fueleconomy.gov, inflating tires to their proper pressure can improve mileage by about 3%, whereas leaving them under-inflated can lower it by 0.4% for every one PSI drop in pressure.

As West says, this means that the average person driving with under-inflated tires “uses about 144 extra gallons of gas, at a cost of US$300-$500 a year. And each time one of those gallons of gas is burned, 20 pounds of carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere as the carbons in the gas are released and combine with the oxygen in the air. As such, any vehicle running on soft tires is contributing as much as 1.5 extra tons (2,880 pounds) of greenhouse gases to the environment annually.”

On top of this, smushy tires can also lead to longer stopping distances, roll-overs and skidding (and as someone who almost ran over her boss once while he was jogging, I can attest that it is very important to be able to brake effectively).

While I acknowledge that I probably shouldn’t be driving a car to begin with, at least when I do, my tires will be treading a bit more lightly on Mother Nature’s back.