EVERYONE can “save green” while they “drive green”!

My dad is a fairly typical guy. And our conversations are fairly typical too … he loves to talk about the weather, complain about politics and, lately, gripe… (incessantly!)… about gas prices.

While he doesn’t “buy” all of my environmental beliefs and commitments, it gave me quite a bit of pleasure to let him know (following that on-going “gas price rant”) that I could provide him with some great tips to save green and BE green. (*insert “annoyed-Dad-grumble” here!*)

Here are the steps I shared with him.  Even for the biggest naysayer, there are little things we can all do to impact the environment less, AND save some cash on fuel. (Imagine, I got to tell my DAD how to drive, for a change!):

  1. Use the cruise – hitting that little button burns less fuel and can increase your mileage by 15%, simple as that.
  2. Maintain it – a well-maintained vehicle actually saves gas and creates less pollution because it runs more efficiently.
  3. Keep your tires properly inflated – this also affects fuel efficiency and emissions.
  4. Clean out your trunk – all that extra stuff you’re carting around in the back adds more weight and reduces your fuel efficiency.
  5. Avoid idling – did you know this consumes more fuel than when you’re actually driving, so don’t warm your car for 15 minutes and shut it off when you can.
  6. Skip drive-thrus – they’re also an “idle nightmare”, and (contrary to belief) restarting it does NOT use more gas.
  7. Keep your speed steady and stop flooring it – this is the reason cruise control is more efficient, and flooring it for just one second actually causes a burst of CO2 emissions equal to 30 minutes of normal driving.
  8. Stay the speed limit – for every 5 mph over 60 it’s like paying 20 cents more per gallon of gas because it burns faster (emissions!).
  9. Consider telecommuting for your job once a week – if it’s possible and you never asked your employer, consider it… they may say yes!  Other option, carpool with a local work pal.
  10. Park it – imagine that!  Use a little bit of foot power and walk, or get out your bike and pedal away! It’s free and there are absolutely zero emissions!

If you’re looking for a new car, the EPA offers a guide to the best car choices to meet your needs.

Now, I’m not suggesting you miff-off your dad and tell him how to drive, but he might just be impressed with your brilliance when you share some little tips to save some (green) gas money!

Vacation and a “green bravo” to the OBX!

HJ OBX DunesI’m FINALLY back… Mom Goes Green just returned from a summer hiatus and a nice, long vacation at the OBX with my amazing family! We already miss the fresh ocean air every morning, noon and night.  We experienced it all again this year… from dunes to surf, and sun to moon…

You probably already know that I didn’t leave my green principals behind. We conserved, we recycled and we simply enjoyed the purity of a beautiful environment.

Once again, after evaluating our trip, I feel no guilt.  We were honestly conscious not to be wasteful. We made sure not to waste energy or over-consume — from turning off lights to waiting for a full dishwasher — and even purchased all of our usual organic food and earth-friendly products.OBX JBeach

We recycled absolutely everything too. I am proud to say that, over the course of the entire vacation, we created only one small bag of trash… but the amount of recycling was certainly more substantial.  Unlike last year (when my husband delivered our recyclables to the local recycling center!) we were fortunate enough to discover some recycling cans right outside of our condo.  Yes, this was a relief for my husband and quite different than our Myrtle Beach vacation a number of years ago!

I also need to offer some green applause to a community that is wise enough to not only protect the natural sand dunes on the beach but also provide cans for recyclables.  This is a view from our condo deck.  See those two cans with the OBX cansyellow lids? … yes, recycling cans.  And the one small blue can? … yep, that’s for trash.  But I think it’s very telling that there is more than twice as much capacity for recyclables than there is for trash. They acknowledge that there’s PLENTY that can be recycled and DOESN’T need to become trash.

The point is, no matter where we are, we CAN “tread lightly”.  At home, on vacation, in everyday life, everywhere. There’s always an option, there’s always a choice.  Make the right choice.

Prep your home for “away” before vacation “play”!

lampSometimes it’s easy to get so consumed with planning and preparing for a vacation that we forget about the home we’re leaving behind.

Before you leave, your house needs some special attention so it doesn’t continue to over-consume in your absence. When you think about everything that’s drawing energy on a daily basis (and the things that an empty house doesn’t need), it’s time for a checklist.

Here are a few simple (and possibly overlooked) ideas to keep your home green while you vacation:

  • Turn off your air conditioning or, in the winter months, turn the heat to 55 degrees.
  • Make sure ceiling fans are turned off.fridge
  • Unplug nearly everything… computers, TVs, appliances, microwaves, lamps, coffee makers, all of it!  Look at every outlet in your house and most things can be unplugged in your absence.  They WILL still consume “phantom power” even when not in use!
  • Install timers on a few lights so your home still appears lived-in but they won’t glow 24-hours-a-day.
  • Dial down the temperature or switch off the breaker on your water heater.
  • If you clear out an overload of perishables in your refrigerator make sure it’s not too empty… you actually need some content to make it efficient.  If it’s looking a bit empty, just fill and cover a few large pitchers of water.

That’s all it takes.  A checklist and a little extra time and you can keep it green while you play away!

Another green-ish vacation and Mother Earth bonding!

So, Mom Goes Green just returned from a nice, long vacation at the OBX with my fantastic family! There is nothing like fresh ocean air each and every morning, noon and night.  We experienced everything again this year… from dunes to surf, to sun to moon…

Surely I didn’t leave my green principals behind. We conserved (lights off, no waste), we recycled (more on that in a moment) and simply enjoyed the purity of a beautiful environment.

Truly, after evaluating our trip, I feel no guilt.  We were honestly conscious not to be wasteful (especially three minutes after arriving in our condo and experiencing a power outage!). We made sure not to waste energy or over-consume — from lights to waiting for a full dishwasher — and even purchased all of our usual organic food and earth-friendly products.

We recycled absolutely everything too. This ended up being much to the dismay of my dear husband who was sent to deliver our recyclables to the local recycling center on the morning of our departure and, as he approached with an ENORMOUS industrial-sized bag of recycling, was informed that “they must be sorted”… ewwww, (*heavy sigh*) … he had to pick each and every item from the bag and place it in the proper receptacle… and for me (*smooch, smooch*) he did it, and nothing met the trash can!

I could go on and on about all of our practices but, for me, the shining moment was when I took time to sneak to the beach in the late-night, moonlit hours while everyone else was fast asleep and stood there, awestruck.  How amazing and peaceful.

With the risk of sounding incredibly cheesy… I felt so lucky that this planet actually ALLOWS us to live here. Really… everything we need, in perfect harmony, supplied by this beautiful planet (see, I told you it would sound cheesy!) but the moon and the waves… just me and an empty beach… truly, I invite you to take a moment, stop, and just think about it.  It’s pretty incredible that LIFE can be so generously sustained here.

THAT is why I do what I doI refuse to abuse this “gift”… thank you, Mother Earth…

Keep your home green while you vacation!

lampSometimes it’s easy to get so consumed with planning and preparing for a vacation that we forget about the home we’re leaving behind.

Before you leave, your house needs some special attention so it doesn’t continue to over-consume in your absence.  When you think about everything that’s drawing energy on a daily basis (and the things that an empty house doesn’t need), it’s time for a checklist.

Here are a few simple (and possibly overlooked) ideas to keep your home green while you vacation:

  • Turn off your air conditioning or, in the winter months, turn the heat to 55 degrees.
  • Make sure ceiling fans are turned off.fridge
  • Unplug nearly everything… computers, TVs, appliances, microwaves, lamps, coffee makers, all of it!  Look at every outlet in your house and most things can be unplugged in your absence.  They WILL still consume “phantom power” even when not in use!
  • Install timers on a few lights so your home still appears lived-in but they won’t glow 24-hours-a-day.
  • Dial down the temperature or switch off the breaker on your water heater.
  • If you clear out an overload of perishables in your refrigerator make sure it’s not too empty… you actually need some content to make it efficient.  If it’s looking a bit empty, just fill and cover a few large pitchers of water.

That’s all it takes.  A checklist and a little extra time and you can keep it green while you play away!