by Kelsey Howard
Shrinking Your Footprint
In a world that continues to consume massive amounts of energy and fossil fuels on a daily basis, it becomes ever more apparent that we, as the earth’s inhabitants, must become more conscious of our own tread. By making efforts to reduce our carbon footprint, we may begin to reverse some of the extreme ecological scarring that has occurred from the carelessness of our species. There are many different sustainable efforts you can apply to your daily life that can greatly help reduce pollution in our atmosphere as well as reduce waste. Check out a few of these websites to expand your outlook and help to change the fate of our earth.
Our sun is the most abundant source of energy and depending on where you live wind can be equally as abundant. Generally, the easiest way to take advantage of these types of energy are through solar panels and wind turbines (wind mills). Solar panels and wind turbines come in a variety of sizes and types and can almost always accommodate any lifestyle. While making an effort to get some of your energy from one of these sources saves a great amount of energy, pairing the two types together can be even more beneficial; because while it may not be sunny, it could quite possibly be windy or the opposite or both. With the combination of these two sources you can’t be beat! Check out some of these links to get a better idea of one that may suit your lifestyle.
Run Your Car on Alternative Fuel
There are many different ways to be a part of the alternative fuel revolution. You can run your diesel car on biodiesel, straight vegetable oil or waste vegetable oil (S.V.O. /W.V.O.). You can run your gas car on ethanol or buy electric/hybrid vehicles. My personal choice of fueling is by using S.V.O.
Any diesel engine car can run on vegetable oil or bodies. Rudolf Diesel (the inventor of the diesel engine) originally made the diesel engine to run on peanut oil!
Biodiesel is a mixture of mostly vegetable oil, methanol/ethanol, and lye to act as catalyst. Biodiesel can be mixed with regular diesel and comes in a variety of blends, the most common I have seen is B20 which means 20% biodiesel and 80% diesel mixed together, B100 is all biodiesel. In order to run your diesel car on biodiesel the only modification required is to take out and rubber fuel lines and replace them with new synthetic fuel lines. Biodiesel contains a small amount of lye which can eat away and destroy rubber leaving you stranded on the side of the road.
SVO (straight vegetable oil) is a little more complicated. Before vegetable oil can go into a diesel engine it needs to be heated up. The most common way to heat the veggie oil up is to reroute hot engine coolant and run it through a heat exchanger located in the veggie tank. An electric 12 volt heater in combination with the coolant heat is needed for cold winter weather. In my car I have a heater on my injection lines right before the fuel goes into the engine and another heater wrapped around my water separating Racor filter, each heater warms up to about 180 degrease Fahrenheit.
What helped me out a lot when I was converting my car to run off of veggie oil was by checking out some of these websites below.
Did you know that for every one calorie of food you consume you are also consuming seven to ten calories of fossil fuel that it took to transport it or produce it? Aside from simply supporting your local economy, you are also significantly reducing carbon in the atmosphere. 2/5 of the gas consumption in the U.S.A. alone is due to the production and transportation of our food. Take pride in knowing where your food comes from. If it is not always possible to eat locally, it is next best to eat organically. The pesticides used to grow the majority of our crops pollute ground water and can endanger animal species including our own. Take a stand and think about what you are eating-What is its embodied energy? A single peach from Chile has used extensive amounts of petroleum to get to you. From the truck that drove to water/harvest the peach, to the plane that it took to get to your area, to your car driving it home from the store whereas something that has been grown locally has taken much less energy to get to your mouth. Keep this in mind while you consume and also bear in mind all the industries you are supporting. Make it even simpler, start a garden. Don’t forget to think globally, act locally! Try reading The Omnivores Dilemma, The Botany Of Desire or In Defense Of Food, all by Michael Pollan; guaranteed you’ll change your mind about how and what you eat.
Tips Around The House
1. Swap out your incandescent light bulbs for compact florescent energy efficient bulbs- which use 75% less energy and last up to four times longer. Make sure you check to see where to properly dispose/recycle them in your area, as they can’t be thrown away with your regular trash due to the mercury in the florescent bulbs.
2. Make a habit of turning off unused lights in your home; you’ll be surprised how much energy/money you can save.
3. Start a compost pile for all of you kitchen food scraps, this will reduce waste in your trash and eliminate the use of an energy hungry garbage disposal, all the while providing free, nutrient rich fertilizer for your garden. Complete the circle!
4. Swap out old windows with double pained, insulated, energy efficient ones
5. Replace old appliances with new energy efficient models.
6. Whenever possible dry your cloths on a cloths line.
7. Use environmental safe soup while washing your cloths/yourself in order to preserve local water supply.
8. Solar ovens work great depending on where you live. Cook your food outside!
9. Bring reusable grocery bags to the store when you do your shopping, or if this isn’t an option be sure to choose paper bags rather than their non-recyclable plastic counterpart. If this isn’t an option then check at your local grocer to see if they take your old plastic bags…some places do that.
10. Make a conscious effort to consume less packaging. It seems that in this day and age we consume more packaging than we do what is inside. Do your best to buy products that do not have the standard packing that most things use. If you are going clothing shopping, opt to put your items in your purse or pocket rather than using a bag. Brands like Dr. Brommer’s All-Purpose Soap contribute greatly to this movement by providing large vats of soap at stores like Whole Foods where you can refill your same Dr. Brommer’s bottle over and over. Other examples include choosing a more concentrated laundry detergent that generally come in a smaller bottle or buying rolls of toilet paper that are single ply and make claims like “2 rolls in 1”. All of these are examples of less packaging for the same amount of stuff.
11. Ride you bike or use public transportation whenever possible and be sure to share the road with others who chose to ride a bike if you are driving a car.
12. All in all, live simply, be conscious and be aware.