Contributing Writers

Green Jeeps? Polluting hybrids? What?

Posted by Strawberry on 03/13 at 04:39 PM
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Just when you start to figure things out, something comes along and messes it all up. Like the environment, for example.

Like most folks, I have equated gas milage with how eco-friendly a vehicle is. It’s a simple approach, where a hybrid car is better for the planet than say, a gas-guzzling SUV.

Wrong. Or so they are now saying.

According to US-based CNW Research, those high-tech, high fuel milage cars and trucks are in fact worse for the environment than their low tech cousins, if you stand back and look at the big picture. That’s what they did, looking at some 300 vehicles as they go from the drawing board to the assembly line to life on the road and off into oblivion. Or from “dust to dust,” as they said.

CNW did the kind of mind-numbing research that would drive most sane people crazy, looking at over 4,000 variables in the life cycles of each vehicle. There’s a lot of energy used to design, build, sell and operate a vehicle, and at the end you have to dispose of it.They really got into the details: The US made Honda Accord is built by folks who drive to work, at an average cost of $1.92 per day. Meanwhile their Japanese colleagues building the same car take public take public transit, at a cost of 18 cents per day.

There are other considerations: How much of the car is made from recycled materials? Where is it made? How far does it have to go to get to the consumer? How specialized are all the doohickeys and thingamajigs? How expensive is the energy used to build it?
The bad news is that the hybrid vehicles cost a lot more, consuming up to ten times more energy over their lifespans. It starts with a lot of energy going into designing the things, and those costs (easily over a billion dollars per model) haven’t been absorbed yet by the number of vehicles made. The result: Development energy costs for a Toyota Prius are about $29,000, compared to $2,600 for a Toyota Corolla, because the Corolla has been around for about 40 years or so.
To make it understandable, CNW calculated it out in cost-per-mile. The damage: A Toyota Prius costs an average of $2.62 per mile, while the Corolla costs 72 cents a mile. A Mercedes-Benz Maybach costs $15.84 per mile.

On the low end, the Jeep Wrangler, in all of its boxy, clunky glory, costs 71 cents per mile, the cheapest available in Canada. Because it’s been pretty much the same for the last 60 years little energy is spent on design, and almost all of its parts can be recycled.

Others on the top ten list include the Toyota Corolla and Echo, the Chevy Aveo, Hyundai Elantra and Accent, Kia Spectra Ford Focus and the Honda Fit, which comes in at number ten, at 91 cents per mile driven. Other than the Wrangler these are all small, cars that sip fuel. And none of them on the list waste a lot of time and effort on high tech doodads.

I’m still not sure what to make of all of this, except to say that appearances can be deceiving. That and the fact that while the car dealers are trying to play the green card on their customers, I think I’d be better off stretching a little more life out of the car I have until I figure this out.
For a look at the report go to: www.cnwmr.com

About the author: Strawberry

Water reduction starts at home

Posted by TheGreen on 12/21 at 04:35 AM
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This Christmas we decided to do something a little different. As part of becoming a little bit greener, we decided to get rid of our two 13 litre flush toilets and install new TOTO Aquia Dual Flush Toilet CST414M. The cost to purchase the toilets was a little high ($350 Canadian), but we feel the water savings were more important. Since we had to replace the floors in the two bathrooms, it was an ideal time to upgrade.

For those that are not familiar with the dual flush toilets, our research shows there are two main brands that people talk about the most. The Toto 6l / 3.2l flush (1.6G / .9G), and the Caroma 6l / 3l flush (1.6G / .8G). There are a lot of positive and a lot of negatives reviews on both of these toilets, so I think it comes down to what you the consumer wants. Note the Caroma uses a smidgen less water than the Caroma Dual flush toilet.

If like us, you are not sure where to begin, here are the two main sites we used to help make a decision. The Terry Love website has a great forum that has a lot of reviews and straight up talk about the pros and cons of both the Toto and Caroma toilets, and about Dual flush toilets in general. You can find a lot of consumer reviews at PerformanceToilets.com the Toto that we bought, keeping in mind that it is a Toto specialist site. At toiletsthatwork.com you will find a lot of reviews on the Toto toilets, but again, nothing on the Caroma. It is worth taking the time to read through the bulk of the reviews to get a good grasp on the issues people had.

Most of the sites have reviews that rate the installation of the Toto Aquia Dual Flush Toilet as being quite difficult. Our experience though was one of ease. Yes, you need to drill 6 extra holes in the floor to install all the mounting hardware, but with the right tools, this was quite simple. As the reviews state, you will need a 5/16” carbide tip drill if you are mounting the toilet on a tile floor. The 1/4” drill will not suffice. The only real difficulty we experienced was getting the water supply line installed on the toilet after we had the toilet installed. Although it was possible to get the supply line installed, if I had to do it again, I would install the supply line onto the toilet before sliding the toilet onto the base PVC flange. Then hook the supply line to the supply feed. Note that you will possibly require a longer supply line due to where the hookup on the toilet is. Apart from that we are set.

Another complaint from people about the Dual Flush toilets in general is that it gets dirty very quickly. One of the ways these toilets use so little water is how little water they keep in the bowl. As a result, number two can easily mark up the sides of the toilet. Well, so be it. Just keep your toilet cleaning arsenal handy, oh, and the fan turned on!

In the summer time we often have four five kids using the main toilet throughout the day. This can result in 15 or more flushes a day, which was about 195 litres of water used each day just on flushing the pee away. The new Toto Dual Flush will use only 45 litres, or save us 140 litres a day, on those higher use days. That alone is great to see.

Bottom line, the Dual Flush toilets are not for everyone, but if we are redoing your bathroom, it is well worth considering getting a toilet that has a small water footprint.

If you found this article useful, or if you have questions, feel free to post some comments. I will do my best to answer the questions that I can.

About the author: TheGreen

Fewer speed bumps, better city planning, please

Posted by Strawberry on 11/01 at 03:07 PM
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Speed bumps - a Band-Aid solution for bad street planning - not only fuel drivers’ tempers and create noise pollution, they add greenhouse gases to the air we breathe, says a new federal housing agency report.

About the author: Strawberry

A taste of the traditional

Posted by Strawberry on 09/12 at 05:25 PM
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Hello readers! If you’re looking at kinder, gentler and more traditional ways of living, you might want to check out this upcoming event in Vermont:

Subject: Animal Power Field Days promotional reminder….please distribute widely!

Northeast Animal-Power Field Days Trade Fair & Conference
Saturday and Sunday, September 29-30, 2007, Fair Grounds, Tunbridge, VT

Gates Open 8:30 am, Activities Begin by 9:00 am Both Days

Admission: $10/day, $15/both days

This two-day trade fair and conference will present resources for farmers, loggers, and forest landowners pursuing the use of draft animals as part of their land-based livelihoods. By encouraging diversified farming, low-impact logging, and the use of draft animals, small acreage can be effectively managed for valuable farm and forest products, expanding opportunities for families to enjoy good livelihoods where they live.

The Weekend Activities will include:

Event Welcoming, Saturday 1 PM;  Secretary Roger Albee, Vermont Agency of Agriculture.

Saturday Keynote, 1:15 PM;  Lynn Miller, Horse-farmer & Editor of Small Farmers Journal.
Sunday Keynote, 12:00 Noon;  Jason Rutledge of Healing Harvest Forest Foundation.
Teamster Round Table; Saturday 5-7pm;

Equipment Auction; Sunday 3-5pm;

Other weekend activities will include presentations, panel discussions, vendor exhibits, working animal presentations, and field demonstrations of animal-powered farming and logging equipment. Workshop topics will include grazing management, composting, carbon farming, CSA/Market Gardening, and working with draft animals on the farm and in the woods. Local food vendors (including NOFA-VTs Pizza Mobile and Howling Wolf Barbeque), a farmers market, kids activities, music and art will also be present. Camping is available at the fair grounds! Come for a weekend of fun!

For information on sponsoring, exhibiting or reserving a camp-site ($20 per night)
Contact: Carl Russell or Lisa McCrory, Phone: 802-234-5524, Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Interested in Volunteering?
Contact: Kristen Gage, Phone: 802-431-1029, Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Visit our Website: www.animalpowerfielddays.org for our brochure, event schedule, speaker and workshop descriptions, directions & lodging information and more.

About the author: Strawberry