Frugal Transportation

According to the American Automobile Association, the average price for a gallon of gas in the US today is $2.86, and a recent article in the New York Times reported that carbon dioxide emissions from the use of coal, oil and natural gas increased 1.4% globally in 2017 after remaining steady since 2014. That’s like putting 170 million new cars on the road worldwide! But here’s the thing: making a few changes can save you money and help the environment. So let’s get started…

Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained. Replacing your fuel filter at least every 50,000 miles improves your gas mileage and helps protect your car’s engine.

Experts recommend replacing your vehicle’s air filter every 15,000 – 30,000 miles but you may want to change it more often if you drive on dirt roads or notice sluggish acceleration or rough idling.

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Greener Gardens

Americans use millions of pounds of chemicals each year to keep weeds out of their lawns and pests out of their gardens. And weed killers and pesticides work really well, but we pay a tremendous price for that effectiveness in terms of health and environmental problems. Of course, the manufacturers of weed and insect killers insist that their products are safe, but studies show otherwise…

Studies have linked household use of herbicides and pesticides with cancer, birth defects, and organ damage, as well as damage to muscular, nervous, and digestive systems. Children are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of pesticides. The American Cancer Society has reported that children whose homes and yards have been treated with pesticides are more likely to develop leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. And pets suffer too—a study by the National Cancer Institute found a link between pesticides and herbicides and dogs diagnosed with canine malignant lymphoma.

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The Garbage Patch

Today is World Environment Day, first designated by the United Nations in 1974 to bring about awareness and to inspire people to take action to protect the environment. This year’s theme is plastic, so let’s talk a little about that.

Halfway between California and Hawaii, and floating just under the surface of the ocean is a soupy mix of trash and debris that has grown to more than twice the size of Texas. Known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, most of this mass of trash is made up of plastic water bottles and plastic shopping bags, and such things as toothbrushes, printer ink cartridges, syringes, and children’s toys. Most of this trash is generated onshore when discarded items find their way into sewers and storm drains and then are picked up by ocean currents that sweep it into the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. This trash has been collecting there in a slowly swirling, ever-growing mass since the 1950s.

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Doing the Wash – Part 2

My last post was about laundry soaps and how making your own is healthier – for you and for the planet – than using conventional detergents. In today’s post I continue to trash-talk conventional laundry products, only this time it’s about bleach and fabric softeners.

I get that you want your white socks to be white not gray, but you only have to take a whiff of chlorine bleach to know that it can’t be good for you. Chlorine bleach irritates the eyes, skin, and lungs, and can be fatal if swallowed. It has been linked to cancer, reproductive problems, immune dysfunction, and hormone disruption. It aggravates asthma and allergies, and is just as dangerous to pets and birds as it is to humans.

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Doing the Wash – Part 1

Some of us don’t mind grabbing the cleanest pair of dirty jeans off the floor on occasion (and I may or may not have ever done this), but most people would rather put on clean clothes to start their day. Unfortunately, the products we use to get those clean and fresh-smelling clothes are full of all kinds of nasty chemicals – things that are unhealthy for us and for the environment.

To start with, there is a big difference between soap and detergent. Soap has been around for thousands of years and at first it was made by boiling fats and ashes together. Later, higher quality soaps were made using olive-oil. During World War I there was a shortage of fats and oils so detergents were created in labs using petroleum as a base for the surfactant, the chemical that makes the bubbles, along with other chemicals.

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