Saturday, May 30, 2009

The "Greening" of a road trip

Two weeks and the Great American Road trip gets started. Planning routes, choosing attractions, finding great local restaurants, and counting my pennies are all in high gear.
I'm also working on "greening" our trip.

Obviously, the biggest "green" aspect will be our mode of transportation.

I suggested to the Ford Motor Company that we could help each other out by them allowing me to drive one of their improved hybrids and making an advertising campaign showing how the hybrid works all over the country. It would appear that they are going to pass on my offer. (Kinda thought they might, but it didn't hurt to ask)

Thanks to a local auto rental company, the Great American Road trip will be accomplished in the leader in hybrid autos,
The Toyota Prius

With the wheels secured, what else can we do to "green" the trip? One thing that I always associate with road trips is "munchies". Is there a way to "green" the food for the road.

Reducing trash, waste, and excessive packaging is how we plan on being more responsible snackers. First, Ronald is not going to be happy, but we will be avoiding fast food most of the trip. This serves a few purposes. First, we'll be eating healthier. Second, we'll keep more green in my wallet. Finally, we will reduce the waste associated with snack foods. Instead of buying bags of small chips and pretzel bags or individually wrapped snacks, we'll buy in bulk and make our own "bags" Our "bags" not only will be re-usable, they will keep the snacks safer, less crushing and breaking.
Here's our "bags":

Cool Whip bowls, old butter tubs, and reusable Chinese delivery trays will keep the snacks fresh and intact. They will also help us not eat more than we should at one sitting, something quite easy to do with an open bag of SunChips and 4 hours of driving.

Two other items "greening" our trip: resuable shopping bags (great for all those cool whip bowls) and water bottles.
We're still working on other ways to "green" the trip. If you have any ideas, please let us know.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"This is how it works" Update

I thought I'd encourage everyone who still thinks "I'm just one person, what difference can I make?"

After listening to me talk about this blog and responsible living, one of my employees borrowed a large empty cardboard box and a few trash bags from me in order to collect plastic bottles that were cluttering up his apartment. Now he has his roommates joining him in tossing the plastic in the recycling "bin." He's added cans to the bin as well.

At one of the town home communities that I manage, we have no curbside recycling option, so almost no one recycles. I was talking to one of the families about this blog and recycling and they expressed that they wished there was a place nearby where they could recycle. I told them that if they dropped off their recycling with me, I'd add it to the office materials I recycle. They came back a day later with a small plastic grocery bag with about 8 bottles. Now, it's a couple times a week and closer to 20-30 bottles.

I have folks pointing out products made from recycled materials, articles about responsible living, energy efficiency, etc. Even though they are telling me about them because they know I will be interested, they are still reading the articles, noticing the recycled items and this is a beginning in changing our overall mindset. I even had someone tell me that they were not going to buy a hybrid when they bought their new car, because they were still a bit overpriced. The upside: They're going to buy a car that gets 35 mpg, a step in the right direction.

I'm just one person, but that's a start! Why don't you join me?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

No, we won't be driving glorified lawnmowers!

This is not our only option!

There are folks out there who say that environmentalists want us all driving glorified lawnmowers. They say that hybrid cars are slow, ugly, uncomfortable to drive, unsafe, impractical. They use cars like the one in the picture above to scare the average Joe away from a bonanza of savings in his wallet and an atmosphere that doesn't come with a daily smog alert chart.

American's love their cars. We love fast cars, sharp looking cars, roomy cars. We want a car that will tow the boat to the lake on Memorial Day and the soccer team to the game on Saturday. We want to express our individuality in the car we chose. When we hear that the electric "toy" shown in the picture above is what we can look forward to if we listen to folks who say we need higher fuel efficiency and lower harmful emissions out of Detroit, it's understandable why we shy away from making responsible auto choices.

Here are a few of the current choices that we have. All these are hybrids with varying fuel efficiency rates, but all of them increase mileage and reduce emissions:

Toyota Prius

Honda Insight

Ford Fusion

Mercury Milan

Chevy Tahoe

Dodge Durango

Yes, there are even SUVs that are hybrids. Granted, the SUVs aren't as fuel efficient as the Prius, but they are a step in the right direction.

So the next time someone tries to fill your head with visions of cramped, slow, ridiculous looking glorified lawnmowers, take a trip to the local car dealership and test drive a car with style and responsibility.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Been sick

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. I've been under the weather. Hopefully posts will resume tomorrow.

Think wind mills, bio-fuels and why are some people so intent on hating hybrid autos. Those should keep you busy until I return

On the odd chance that you feel like making a comment on any of those, the comment line is open.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sleeping on a pillow of...bottles?

Doesn't this picture just make you sleepy?

Can you see yourself getting a great night's sleep with these as your pillow?

If you bought an EcoTex pillow, that's exactly what you would get. EcoTex's Earth Friendly Bed Pillows are filled with polyester made from recycled plastic bottles. I bought two this weekend and not only were they as soft as a regular pillow, but the environmentally friendly ones were the least expensive ones in the store.

After I got the pillows home and fitted with their new covers, I discovered that these sleep havens had a couple of other features that made my resposible living side smile. The pillows come bagged in a polybag. The polybag is biodegradeable, beginning to break down in landfills as quickly as 3 months after landing there. Also, instead of whitening the cotten for these night time head rests in chlorine bleach, which breaks down into harmful chemicals, EcoTex used hydrogen peroxide which breaks down into water and oxygen as it bleaches.

These pillows are a great example of completing the recycling circle, recycle your empty plastic bottles and then buy them back in a different form, in this case, comfy pillows.

Look for items that are made from recycled materials and keep the circle closed. You just might get a pleasant surprise, like a great night's sleep on your old Pepsi bottles!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

View Larger Map
The Great Green American Road trip is just over a month away, so I need some help. We are looking for attractions that emphasize responsible living.

Already on the schedule are: the Holy Cross Project in New Orleans where sustainability and affordable housing are being wed together to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

Another example of green recovery from disaster that we will be visiting is Greensburg, KS where a town was virtually wiped off the map, but has committed to rebuilding and rebuilding green.

We are looking for other examples of communities, governments, individuals that are working toward making our home a better place. If you have any suggestions for our trip, please drop me a comment. If we visit your suggested location, we'll send you a gift from our trip.

One thing I really want to see is a Wind Farm. If you know of one that is near our route, please let me know.

I look forward to all the suggestions.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Recycling doesn't have to be ugly!

I will admit it.

Chic and classy, these are not.

Your kitchen, on the other hand, is elegant, modern, classic or stylish, so how do we save the planet, but look good doing it?

Try one of these options:

1). Hide the recycling with one of these in-cabinet recycling centers:

2). Give the recycling a sleek or modern look with one of these:

3). Color and a funky style might fit your kitchen better:

The red one has an added feature of combining re-using with recycling. The white "bins" are actually your plastic shopping bags being re-used to recycle.

4). For the gadget lover or the consummate recycling fan,
try Mode's Premium All-in-One Recycling Center

These are only a few of the options available. There are canvass bags, boxes made from recycled cardboard, and the list goes on. You could even disguise your ugly blue box with your kids drawings, wrapping paper, etc.

The bottom line? You have style, so should your recycling.

Let's see what your recycling style looks like. Send me photos of your personal recycling centers or ones that you have come across that tickled your fancy. I'll post them on the site and all our readers will vote on their favorites. The winner will get a gift package from Jeni and my Great American Road trip in June.

Send them to

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Coffee drinkers, you can save the world!

Ok, so maybe "save the world" is a bit much,

but your love of java affords you many ways to "go green."

Let's start with those grounds. Normally, they end up in the trash, but here are some unique re-usable ideas:

1). Do you have problems with snails and ants bothering your tomatoes, or cats tearing up your
lettuce? Finish your Cup of Joe and then sprinkle the grounds in the garden for an organic
2). Roses, rhododendrons, evergreens, and carrots all would love a caffeine fix, so share your
grounds with your plants.
3). The aroma of your daily brew can be tantalizing, so how would you like to smell it without
brewing another cup? Take some old pantyhose, add some coffee grounds and you get a
closet air freshener, or put a few grounds in small cup and and your fridge gets that amazing
smell all day long.
4). Onions or fish have your hands smelling rough? Exchange that awful odorl for one you
relish, just rub those grounds on your hands .

What about leftover coffee? Yes, occasionally, even you have a little leftover coffee, so before you pour it down the drain, consider these re-usable ideas:

1). Soak a steak in that coffee. It'll tenderize it as well as provide a unique flavor.
2). Dip paper in some coffee and you have paper that looks aged.
3). You can dye clothes with coffee to give them a vintage look.
4). Freeze it. Pour your leftover coffee into an ice cube tray and stick it in the freezer. Then
when your Cup of Mud is too hot, drop in a couple of coffee cubes and your coffee doesn't
get watered down.

One last thing, you know you have lots of coffee mugs, but you don't use them all regularly, so can we find anyway to re-use those? Here some cool ideas:
1). Take that classy one and use it hold your tooth brushes rather than buying a tooth brush
2). Father's Day, your daughter gave you a "World's Best Dad" mug and you used it
a time or two, but most of the time it sits in the cabinet. Give it a new home on your desk
holding pens and pencils and your daughter's smile will be priceless.
3). You have a set of four mugs that you like, but don't use often. How about a using them for
silverware instead of hiding those forks and knives in a drawer?

Looking at this list, maybe I was right after all, "Coffee drinkers just might save the planet, one piping hot cup of black gold at a time."

My thanks to, and for their help with this article.

Twittering green

I have recently delved into the world of twitter and all that that entails. I follow many people, some of whom follow me back, many of whom (celebrities for the most part) do not follow me back.

One of the people that I follow is Ashton Kutcher. Recently on world malaria day he and his wife (Demi Moore) twittered all day in support of their own charity which helps supply mosquito nets in developing countries to help prevent the spread of malaria.

Watching the twitter world and the above "conversation" I realized how powerful this network can be. In the coming days and during the trip I plan to twitter as much as I can about going green and about our trips...another way to spread the world.

If you care to follow me my username is evamadera and I am in the Greenville, SC network. I hope to see you soon!