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What do you do for the environment? Brag & inspire!

MissStepcut

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I was so happy to read about Kenny's new composting system (looks neat, I want one!) and I was wondering what other things people do to reduce their carbon footprint.
 

yssie

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Ron White - "I'm eating the cow" :bigsmile:
 

Jennifer W

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We: upgraded our loft insulation;reduced the temp of our heating; installed an efficient gas combi-boiler; put baffle plates on open chimneys; avoid supermarkets; recycle paper, glass and some plastic; avoid buying food out of season or with excessive packaging; compost kitchen waste; chose fuel efficient cars and keep them carefully maintained to maximise their fuel conversion; avoid buying consumer goods as much as possible; drive as little as possible and use public transport where we can. We don't fly very often and we try to vacation in places that we can reach by train or now that we have a toddler, the more efficient of our two cars.

We also planted a dozen or so trees, grow as much food as we can to cut down on transport and we try never to buy food that has travelled more than 30 miles (that one is tough, and we fail regularly, since we both like coffee, tea and bananas etc...). We always look for ethically produced goods, because often, I think they are more carefully produced in environmental terms (although not always, so you have to do some research).

A lot of the time, I'm finding that health and environmental protection can be linked. Food in season, no pre-made or overly processed and packaged food, local food, making use of what we can grow, avoiding chemicals in food such as artificial sweeteners produced from inorganic material and so on are all things that help both the environment and physical wellbeing.

Our financial investments are with companies we have researched and found to be as ethical as possible in their investments - companies that don't have a poor ethical record and don't engage in activities which do significant environmental harm. It can be very difficult to find truly ethical investments - I'm as certain as I can be that none of my money is available to corporations that do significant harm, but I'm not 100% sure of it. I hope the balance is towards ethical investing, at least.

We do our best but there is a lot more we could do - we're looking into generating electricity with a wind turbine and using solar energy for heating (such as it is, in Scotland).
 

MissStepcut

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Jennifer - I am definitely inspired! I wish it were easier to buy things with less packaging. That's definitely something I struggle with in the U.S., since things come so heavily packaged!
 

Jennifer W

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It's much the same here- it's difficult to avoid endless amounts of plastic wrap. One way is to do as little shopping in supermarkets as possible, because they seem to be the worst offenders. I also shop online as much as I can - cuts down on my travel and if I use the post office rather than a courier, they were making the journey anyway.

Have to say though, there is a LOT more we could do. I go through phases where I'm really careful and irritated by wasted resources, and phases where I'm less strict about it (it's raining, I am using the big diesel car...). I did get rid of my 4 x 4, since it did 20 miles to the gallon and was somewhat antisocial in a small village anyway, but I really do miss it in the snow.

Anyway, I suppose we all do what we can, and probably all have our areas where we take care and others where we don't - I'm terrible about using too much water,mostly because it seems so very plentiful in Scotland. We have fitted waste reducing cisterns, we collect and pump rainwater for use in the garden and for cleaning, but we don't recycle grey water and I rarely think twice about using tapwater for anything.
 

zoebartlett

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The builder of our development made all of the units energy efficient, and we like that he made the effort. When we remember to bring them, we use cloth bags for food shopping instead of paper or plastic bags. We recycle as much as we can and we use energy efficient light bulbs.

ETA: Oh and my husband drives a Prius. He still buys gas once a week which he didn't think he'd have to do, but apparently the tank is smaller. He likes the car in general but he doesn't think it's as fuel-efficient as Toyota touts.
 

megumic

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Here's my short list:
- reuse bags
- no paper towels, we use rags over and over and wash
- cloth napkins
- reusable water bottles filled with tap water
- reusable coffee mugs - we bring our own coffee every day
- bringing lunch in reusable containers
- unplug things in our home we don't use daily
- keep it cold in the winter and warm in the summer
- one-car family
- I carpool and my husband takes a bus
- purchase and eat organic animal products
- recycle EVERYTHING
- only use real dishware
- use reusable grocery bags

I wish we could compost, but since we're renters and the yard is very very small, this would be impossible without a compost barrel. I'm also concerned about how we'd "move" the compost when we do buy a home and leave this place.

Any tips from others on small things we can do to improve our greenness??
 

iheartscience

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Reusable bags
Reusable water bottles and coffee mugs
Recycle all cans, bottles and cardboard at home
Recycle all cans, bottles and paper at work
Avoid printing things out, but if I have to, print everything double-sided
I sold my car and take public transport or walk everywhere (my husband needs his car for work so we still have one)
Buy groceries from markets/farmers markets whenever possible to cut down on transportation/packaging
I also wear my pants (especially jeans) and tops several times before washing. Saves water and my clothes from looking old. I swear I don't stink! :cheeky:

I'm in an apartment now but would like to compost once we either buy or rent a row house. Depending on the yard I might try to grow some produce, too. I grew herbs at my last house and loved having them...baby steps!
 

ksinger

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Compost, recycle bin, worm bins. Subscribe to wind-power on my electric.

As for CFLs, well I LOATHE them, with a passion that wells up from deep inside. They take forever to warm up, and with my aging eyes I feel like I'm going blind when I turn on the murky, pale, wan light. And then when they DO warm up, I hate the color of the light. And then you have to figure out where to dispose of them properly, which probably uses more gas than I save by using them in the first place. Did I mention that I LOATHE them?? I have a few, but for REAL light I use incandescent or halogen. So sue me. And while the halogens in my kitchen can lights may not be efficient, they do last for about 3 years, and that's got to count for something in endless manufacturing impacts.

I'm waiting for this. I'm on the mailing list to be the first to buy some of these new bulbs. They look cool, and are supposed to be efficient AND put out lovely light. I'm not generally an early adopter of stuff, but I'm going to jump on this one...

Slate article about the company and their product
http://www.slate.com/id/2298444/

Company website
http://switchlightbulbs.com/
 

KimberlyH

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Low water usage landscaping
Grow our own veggies
Walk whenever possible
Recycle
Reuse bags
 

Haven

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Great thread!

Our biggest contribution is that we consume as little as possible. We don't buy heavily packaged products. We never use store bags. I don't put my veggies in those little plastic veggie bags, instead I just bring my own special reusable veggie back. (And one for poultry and meat, as well.) We shop local and seasonal as much as possible so we aren't responsible for things being shipped long distances just for our consumption. We walk or ride our bikes when we can. We drive small sedans, and make a strong effort to incorporate trips to stores that our otherwise on our way, meaning that we don't just run out to the grocery store, we go on our way home from work. Those sorts of things.

Other things we use/do:
- Reusable bags for every kind of shopping, not just grocery
- Aluminum water bottles
- Aluminum coffee mug (I work with SO MANY people who use a disposable cup every.single.day. Makes me cringe.
- We use cloth napkins instead of paper. I carry one with me all the time so I never have to use paper.
- We bought an old house instead of building a new one. We felt very strongly about doing this.
- Recycle everything we can. We drive to other facilities for the few items our town won't recycle.
- DH extra-insulates our windows during cold months so we won't need as much heat. We use as little AC and heat as possible. We just wear sweaters inside during the winter, not so tough!
- We just plain don't consume a lot. We buy used when we can, or rent or borrow (mostly tools and things for the house) when we can. We wear our clothes as many times as we can before washing them. When we have things lying around that we don't use, we donate them so someone else can. Those sorts of things.

Things I do to help others:
- I donate a couple reusable coffee mugs to my division every month or so, with a note that says "Adopt me! Please stop wasting a cup every day."
- I give away reusable canvas/grocery bags to my students as contest prizes throughout the semester.
 

vc10um

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Oh my! What an amazing thread!

Right now, DH and I live in a condo that we rent and so we can't do much in terms of the house itself, but in the past year we have:
~Replaced all bulbs with CFLs or LEDs (mostly LEDs, and they're AMAZING for light quality! LOVE them!)
~Stopped using our dryer (DH hung a clothesline in the guest bedroom and we hang everything to dry in there)
~Begun purchasing paper goods made from recycled materials.
~Reusable coffee mugs and water bottles
~Unplugging chargers, etc, when not in use to reduce "phantom" electric draw
~Tripled the amount we recycle
~Using only reusable grocery bags when we go shopping
~Set our A/C at 78 degrees to reduce energy consumption
~Only running full loads of wash in cold water
~Doing our best to buy local produce and meats
~Buying reusable energy credits
~Becoming active with the Sierra Club
~Switching over to glass containers for our food (Mason Jars and Lock-n-Lock boroseal line)
~Switching over to soaps and other cleaners not derived from Petroleum

Things we're looking forward to when we have our own home:
~Installing energy efficient appliances
~Using sustainable woods to build furniture or refinishing existing furniture to suit our needs
~Growing all our own produce...DH wants to convert 1/4 acre to a garden, not including fruit trees!
~Installing a rain barrel for watering the garden
~Composting
~Installing solar panels on our roof

I am loving all the "green" around here! :appl:
 

sillyberry

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MissStepcut said:
Jennifer - I am definitely inspired! I wish it were easier to buy things with less packaging. That's definitely something I struggle with in the U.S., since things come so heavily packaged!
Agreed. It's so true that buying whole foods (as opposed to Whole Foods) is a good way to escape this. But when it comes to STUFF (and I kind of buy too much stuff...I need to be more Haven-like) the packaging is often insane and unweildy. I think clamshell packing is an industry joke on the rest of us.

thing2of2|1316960172|3024990 said:
I also wear my pants (especially jeans) and tops several times before washing. Saves water and my clothes from looking old. I swear I don't stink! :cheeky:
I do this too. Partly, um, because I'm lazy, but I like the consequences!

ksinger said:
As for CFLs, well I LOATHE them, with a passion that wells up from deep inside. They take forever to warm up, and with my aging eyes I feel like I'm going blind when I turn on the murky, pale, wan light. And then when they DO warm up, I hate the color of the light. And then you have to figure out where to dispose of them properly, which probably uses more gas than I save by using them in the first place. Did I mention that I LOATHE them?? I have a few, but for REAL light I use incandescent or halogen. So sue me. And while the halogens in my kitchen can lights may not be efficient, they do last for about 3 years, and that's got to count for something in endless manufacturing impacts.
Agreed. They drive me batty. I could SO be on board with those Switchlights you posted! 20 year bulbs...wow.

Haven said:
- I donate a couple reusable coffee mugs to my division every month or so, with a note that says "Adopt me! Please stop wasting a cup every day."
This amuses me greatly. My office provides mugs and they'll clean them for you, which is great, but people STILL take paper cups with lids. Makes no sense.

I need to do more - definitely not as awesome as some on here! But I'm an avid recycler. I keep the thermostat high and low, being slightly miserable regardless of the season. DH drives a diesel Jetta (insane mileage). Quick showers (not wasting water in general, as I worry a lot about water as a limited resource -- the drought this summer really hit that home). We recently replaced my mom's old stuff with new energy efficient appliances. I just bought a grocery cart so I can walk to the grocery store instead of drive, and I just purchased up on new reusable bags. The Whole Foods ones I've been using for years are terrible - thin and wilty and annoying. I don't know where else they are located, but Market Street has the BEST bags. Insulated and durable, plus they're thick enough to stand up for easy packing.
 

Puppmom

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You guys put me to shame but I:

use cloth diapers
use reusable shopping bags
never use disposable flatware, dishes etc unless we have a party
recycle everything we can
drink tap water
buy thrift and lots of hand me downs (probably accounts for only about 25% of our clothes though)
drive a fuel efficient car and carpool when I can

...that's all I can think of.
 

Jennifer W

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Oh yes, cloth diapers. We used these too. I know there are debates about whether they are really better for the environment, but I think on balance, they are (no landfill). I know there are pros and cons though.

I don't tend to have coffee or water out of the house / office so I have no guilt over disposable cups. Our tap water is pure and fine to drink, so I don't buy water. I do realise that comes down to where you live - not condemning anyone who does!

Do you guys have freecycle networks? If not, maybe you could look at setting one up? Ours is just an email group- you post stuff you want to get rid of (anything and everything) and stuff you'd like and if anyone in the group needs it / has it, the email you. I've got rid of 2 sofas, a Landrover engine, surplus tomato plants, clothes and outgrown toys, and gain a Victorian cast iron fireplace (gorgeous) a bench grinder, some silver wire and a really beautiful designer coat. I can highly recommend it! You can list anything at all - the aim is to keep good, useable stuff out of landfill.
 

kenny

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I did not have children.

That means my carbon footprint will end when the formaldehyde they pumped into my veins leaches into the groundwater.

Having kids means your carbon footprint probably goes on forever, and may be come MANY footprints.
My partner's grandmother has over 160 offspring now.

Not reproducing is the greenest thing you can do.
Suicide is very green too.
 

Haven

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sillyberry|1316972238|3025155 said:
Haven said:
- I donate a couple reusable coffee mugs to my division every month or so, with a note that says "Adopt me! Please stop wasting a cup every day."
This amuses me greatly. My office provides mugs and they'll clean them for you, which is great, but people STILL take paper cups with lids. Makes no sense.
:angryfire: GRRRR. That would really irritate me, Barrister SB. Seriously. They'll wash the mugs for you, and people can't just use them? That's insane.

The one thing people say is that it's too difficult for them, as adjuncts, to use a reusable travel mug because they don't have an office to leave it in when they're finished. Really? This does not make any sense to me. When I taught HS full time and adjuncted at night, I just brought my travel mug with me. Even though I have an office, it's not as if I can just leave my dirty mug at work every night. I take it home, wash it, bring it back. Not a big deal.

I asked our division to just stop allowing the paper and styrofoam cups, and they said people would freak out so they didn't want to go there. But here's the thing--the college doesn't even provide any of these materials for us. All of the members of our division chip in and supply the coffee, creamer, cups, etc. The staff puts up little signs when we're running low, and people bring things in. So it would be as easy as saying "BYOM, people: Bring Your Own Mug!" And if someone donates disposable cups, the staff could just say "Thank you for your donation, but sorry, we're not supporting that kind of waste anymore." Can you tell this irritates me? A thorn in my side, I say! A thorn!

This thread has inspired me to donate another batch of mugs tomorrow. I'm off to Marshall's!
 

Haven

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Jennifer W|1316973676|3025178 said:
Oh yes, cloth diapers. We used these too. I know there are debates about whether they are really better for the environment, but I think on balance, they are (no landfill). I know there are pros and cons though.

I don't tend to have coffee or water out of the house / office so I have no guilt over disposable cups. Our tap water is pure and fine to drink, so I don't buy water. I do realise that comes down to where you live - not condemning anyone who does!

Do you guys have freecycle networks? If not, maybe you could look at setting one up? Ours is just an email group- you post stuff you want to get rid of (anything and everything) and stuff you'd like and if anyone in the group needs it / has it, the email you. I've got rid of 2 sofas, a Landrover engine, surplus tomato plants, clothes and outgrown toys, and gain a Victorian cast iron fireplace (gorgeous) a bench grinder, some silver wire and a really beautiful designer coat. I can highly recommend it! You can list anything at all - the aim is to keep good, useable stuff out of landfill.
I love freecycle, but the one thing that irritates me is that people rarely say "thank you" after they pick up the items. I don't give things away to get a thank you, of course, but it always annoys me that people find the time to send me a gajillion emails to inquire about little details about the items, set up a time for pickup, and they can't just send off a quick "Thank you!" once they get them.

I gave a really nice drafting table and a whole kit of drafting supplies to an art student a couple years ago. We're talking about hundreds of dollars worth of stuff. She emailed me within an hour of my post, sent me at least ten emails asking after the details of the table, could I measure the dimensions of the table, gave an impassioned plea for the table about how she has no money and this would be a huge support for her in her pursuit of her education. She picked it all up, and that was it. RUDE!
(I leave freecycle things in front of empty homes in my neighborhood because I don't want people to know my address, so it's not like she thanked me when she picked them up or anything.)

I still use it, though, because I love the concept.
 

kenny

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I drive a hybrid and hypermile so I average around 53 MPG, also driving gently means means my last tires lasted around 70,000 miles.
I often walk to the local Trader Joe's.
I bring my own bags to the store.

We recycle everything possible.
I avoid buying food and drinks at restaurants packaged in disposable, even recyclable containers.
We keep our lawn brown and ugly.
Eventually we'll tear it out and go with something that looks nicer and consumes little or no water.

I never buy bottled water since we have a reverse ossmosis water filter.
We used to have water delivered in those 5-gallon bottles on a big stinky diesel-belching truck.
I fill up a metal container at home and carry it with me in the car.

We have no AC or central heating in the house.
On the coldest days of the year we have a small portable heater we put in the bedroom at night and all 3 of our animals sleep there too.

We bought a much smaller house than we could afford, less furniture, less energy consumption.
I've intentionally elected to NOT remodel anything in the house no matter how out of style it looks.
I rebel against that Martha Stewart, Architectural Digest everything has to be perfect mentality since much of that is about run away consumerism.
We still have 1960s era formica countertops which are perfectly functional.
Got a front-loading clothes washer which uses less water.
About 70% of our wash is hung out to dry instead of being put into the dryer.

Our water heater is in the detached garage so it takes 2 or 3 gallons for the hot water to reach the kitchen tap.
I run that water into a bucket and dump it outside into the garden.

I buy pinto beans, brown rice, and popcorn in 25 or 50 pound bags for less packaging and fewer trips to the store.
We just started composting kitchen waste with a vermicompost system, wormies.
 

Haven

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kenny|1316973770|3025179 said:
I did not have children.

That means my carbon footprint will end when the formaldehyde they pumped into my veins leaches into the groundwater.

Having kids means your carbon footprint probably goes on forever, and may be come MANY footprints.
My partner's grandmother has over 160 offspring now.

Not reproducing is the greenest thing you can do.
Suicide is very green too.
I know you probably didn't mean to be flippant about suicide, but this comment offended my sensibilities, Kenny. I'm not telling you this to make you feel bad about saying it, or to request that you take it back. I just want you to know how one person perceived something that you wrote. I know if I wrote something that offended people, however innocent my intent, I'd want to know. That's the only reason I'm saying this now. I understand that people vary, and that some won't find it an insensitive comment. I did.

I agree with you that having children increases your carbon footprint exponentially. DH says this all the time. We do not have children. Yet. Who knows what we will do.
 

kenny

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I didn't say suicide was good.
It stops your carbon footprint.

I also did not say having children is bad.
They DO/CAN extend your carbon footprint to an unknowable and exponential degree.

I saw a wonderful bumper sticker once, "SAVE THE PLANET. KILL YOUSELF!" :lol:
 

Haven

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Kenny--I know that. I'm just sharing that framing it that way was jarring to me, and it offended my sensibilities. I think it is because "green" has a very positive connotation in today's world.
You seem to take interest in learning about people's various ways of responding to things, and that is why I chose to share my response with you. If someone else had posted that, someone whose posts I don't know very well on PS, I may not have shared my reaction.

Perhaps I am extra sensitive because I lost a student just last week. Who knows? I was just sharing.
 

kenny

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Thank Haven.
No problem.

I think in the future as the planet deteriorates because of overpopulation countries will start taxing people on a sliding scale for having more than one kid instead of giving them tax deductions for unlimited breeding.

The planet is finite.
 

Haven

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I think you're right about future legislative measures, Kenny. And I absolutely agree that the planet is finite.

This is a strange connection to make, but we saw the movie CONTAGION last weekend and they introduced different cities with a shot of the city, the city name, and population. Seeing those population numbers up on the big screen in black and white was pretty jarring. We left the movie and had a long discussion about overpopulation. And germs. But that's another story.

ETA: Thank you for taking my post in the spirit in which it was intended. I realized after I submitted it that it may have come across wrong.
 

Asscherhalo_lover

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I drive a hybrid and make an active effort to always make my driving routes as efficiently as possible.

I do my best to conserve electricity and water in the house.

I always use the same heavy duty bags for grocery shopping but I also use them for trips to most other stores, even clothing stores and so on.

I bring my own lunch to work in my reusable Tupperware.

I recycle everything I can.

I try to cook from scratch as much as possible, the less prepacked foods, the less packaging in general!
 

Jennifer W

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kenny|1316974434|3025185 said:
I drive a hybrid and hypermile so I average around 53 MPG, also driving gently means means my last tires lasted around 70,000 miles.
I often walk to the local Trader Joe's.
I bring my own bags to the store.

We recycle everything possible.
I avoid buying food and drinks at restaurants packaged in disposable, even recyclable containers.
We keep our lawn brown and ugly.
Eventually we'll tear it out and go with something that looks nicer and consumes little or no water.

I never buy bottled water since we have a reverse ossmosis water filter.
We used to have water delivered in those 5-gallon bottles on a big stinky diesel-belching truck.
I fill up a metal container at home and carry it with me in the car.

We have no AC or central heating in the house.
On the coldest days of the year we have a small portable heater we put in the bedroom at night and all 3 of our animals sleep there too.

We bought a much smaller house than we could afford, less furniture, less energy consumption.
I've intentionally elected to NOT remodel anything in the house no matter how out of style it looks.
I rebel against that Martha Stewart, Architectural Digest everything has to be perfect mentality since much of that is about run away consumerism.
We still have 1960s era formica countertops which are perfectly functional.
Got a front-loading clothes washer which uses less water.
About 70% of our wash is hung out to dry instead of being put into the dryer.

Our water heater is in the detached garage so it takes 2 or 3 gallons for the hot water to reach the kitchen tap.
I run that water into a bucket and dump it outside into the garden.

I buy pinto beans, brown rice, and popcorn in 25 or 50 pound bags for less packaging and fewer trips to the store.
We just started composting kitchen waste with a vermicompost system, wormies.
53mpg? I have managed to dredge nearly 80 mpg out of my non-hybrid, not hypermiled car. It has a lean burn engine, but it's almost 10 years old. What gives?

Totally with you on the house, furniture and decor approach, btw. Almost all our furniture was inherited and we only replace things when they are literally falling apart. Line drying is something we do whenever it isn't raining. I love the scent of bed linen that dried outside on a summer day.


Haven, what? I've never seen anyone use disposable cups in any circumstance where they could use actual mugs. Is that common in the US? They're not liked here at all, you'd have to apologise for making someone a drink in plastic or paper cup where I work!

ETA I just realised - a US gallon isn't as much as an imperial gallon, which would explain it! Sorry!
 

kenny

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Jennifer W|1316977926|3025233 said:
ETA I just realised - a US gallon isn't as much as an imperial gallon, which would explain it! Sorry!
OMG, I almost got down on my knees and bowed towards your country.
83 MPG!!!!! :o :o :o
 

Haven

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Jennifer W--I have no idea what gives, but this is what goes on in my workplace. I have colleagues who use a disposable cup every single day for their morning coffee. Some throw out their first cup only to grab a second one a couple hours later. It's pretty disgusting.
 

Jennifer W

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kenny|1316978404|3025241 said:
Jennifer W|1316977926|3025233 said:
ETA I just realised - a US gallon isn't as much as an imperial gallon, which would explain it! Sorry!
OMG, I almost got down on my knees and bowed towards your country.
83 MPG!!!!! :o :o :o
LOL! I nearly sparked an international incident...

That said, I still think mine is pretty good on fuel, if I drive carefully. It does a lot less on city driving, but it's very efficient for the type of journey I typically make, on motorway and dual carriageway.

Haven, I can see why that annoys you - I'd hate to see that. How odd! Also rather shocking that you don't get a thank you on freecycle. If we get something, we're supposed to post to the whole group to say "received, thank you" so people know something is taken / found. I've always had a personal thank you, too. Maybe it's because we're quite a small group and all live fairly close by. The no thank-you thing is a little bit disheartening.
 

MissStepcut

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Things I think we do right:
* Live close enough to work, school and the grocery store to walk everywhere, so we don't use a car other than the rare bus or taxi
* Live in an apartment in a modern highrise building
* Eat a pescatarian diet (no mammal or bird meats at all and farmed fish whenever possible)
* Buy local when it's an option

Things we do so, so wrong:
* Fly all. the. time. I would guess we've taken 20 flights each this year.
* Run the heating and air-conditioning any time we're even a little uncomfortable
* Use a lot of paper products
* I'm a raging diet coke addict, which means a lot of shipped bottles of soda and plastic bottles

I am definitely inspired to cut down on our paper product use and try to move towards fewer paper napkins and paper towels.
 
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