Viridorari is an environmentally focused blog. The mission of Viridorari is to help you incorporate healthier, "greener" habits into your life, to benefit you, the people around you, and the environment.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Ecofriendly Economics & Harsh Facts: Plastic Bottles

Happy Earth Day!

  I'm going to purchase myself a stainless steel bottle, and cut plastic bottles out of my life for good!
What's your commitment to the Earth today? Leave a comment below!

To go along with my plastic bottle boycott, I'll make today's "Harsh Facts" centered around plastic bottles.

Also, keep reading to find out 17 ways you can make your car more fuel efficient! 
Harsh Facts of the Week

 In 1976 Americans drank, on average, 1.6 gallons of bottled water each year. Thirty years later, the average consumption had increased to thirty gallons per person. This is despite the fact that bottled water can be anywhere between 240 to 10,000 times more expensive than tap water.

Americans drink more bottled water than any other nation in the world: 29 billion bottles every year. To make the plastic for those bottles, 17 million barrels of crude oil must be used. That is equal to the fuel needed for 1 million vehicles to be on the road for a year.

The recycling rate for those 29 billion bottles is low. About 13% go into the recycling process. In 2005, approximately 2 million tons of water bottles entered U.S. landfills.

In 2006, Fiji shipped 18 million gallons of bottled water to California, releasing about 2,500 tons of pollution in order to transport them. That same year, Western Europe's shipment of bottled water to New York City released 3,800 tons of pollution.

The best part? Contrary to popular belief, water from bottles is not always cleaner or safer than water from the tap.

To solidify the information you just learned, watch this awesome video on storyofstuff.org! The video is fun and easy to understand, and it explains how, for years, corporations have been tricking us into thinking bottled water is better. It's only eight minutes long, and I promise it will be worth your time.

So, now that you've read the Harsh Facts and watched a cool video, what do you think? Is it starting to sound like a smart idea to ditch the water bottle for good?


Ecofriendly Economics

Seventeen ways to make your car more fuel efficient

As a teenager, I love having a car. Owning a car is the epitome of freedom and independence. I can go see my friends, I can go shopping, I can go hiking, I can go to community events, I can do almost whatever I want whenever I want because I no longer have to match my schedule up with my parents’. My parents love that I have a car too, because it makes their lives easier. Now, I sometimes drive my parents places in my car, which is a whole new level of awesome and weird. Not to mention, I bought my car with my own, hard-earned cash, which makes it that much more special and valuable to me. 

But there’s a dark side to owning a car that all of us, not just teenagers, have to deal with. It just sucks more for younger people, because if you’re the average teenager like myself, you don’t have a lot of money to spend. 

That dark side is gas. It’s expensive, it’s bad for the planet, and our society is completely dependent upon it. Our need for fuel and its infinite worth to the corporate world is the driving force behind current environmental dilemmas like the Keystone XL Pipeline and fracking.

If you can find a way to completely eliminate the use of cars in your life, that’s great, and I’d love for you to be Guest Writer on Viridorari! But I’m going to be realistic, and instead of telling you to stop driving, in this special edition of “Ecofriendly Economics,” I’m going to offer you seventeen tips on how to increase your vehicle’s fuel efficiency, and I want you to pick three that you don’t already do and commit to them.

1.    Use your cruise control. Cruise increases fuel economy because it keeps your car at a steady speed and applies the throttle more smoothly.

2.    Avoid speeding. The faster you drive, the harder your car has to fight against aerodynamic drag, and the lower your fuel economy plummets. Increasing your speed from 65 to 75 mph will increase your fuel consumption by 20%, and decreasing your speed from 65 to 55 mph will improve your fuel efficiency by about 10%.

3.    Don’t idle. Bundle up if it’s cold and forgo the warm-up. If it’s summer and you know your car will be hot, just roll down the windows and leave immediately. Idling wastes fuel and increases toxic emissions.

4.    Ensure that your gas cap is tight. Gas will evaporate from your tank if it has the opportunity to. According to the Car Care Council, loose, broken, and missing gas caps cause the evaporation of 147 million gallons of gas each year. What a waste!

5.    Forgo air conditioning. Instead, cool off your car by rolling down the windows, opening the sun roof, and using sunshades while it’s parked. Air conditioning can reduce your fuel economy by 10 to 20%.

6.    Use your garage. Not only will it protect your car from the weather, but the garage will keep it cooler during the summer and warmer during the winter so you don’t have to rely so heavily on gas-guzzling climate control.

7.    Use air conditioning at highway speeds. The increased drag from rolling down your windows at high speeds decreases your fuel economy enough to compete with the use of air conditioning. Instead, enjoy a cool, quiet ride on the highway with your windows up and air conditioning on.

8.    Clean out your car. An added 100 pounds in your car reduces fuel economy by 1 to 2%, depending on the size of your car. Smaller cars, like mine, are affected more by added weight. Cleaning your car has other benefits as well: namely less stress and more comfort on your rides.

9.    Pick shaded parking spots. When the summer sun makes your car hot enough to cook eggs on, it’s also increasing the rate of evaporated fuel.

10.    Avoid rush hour and traffic jams. The constant stop and go of rush hour is infinitely obnoxious, and it reduces your car’s fuel economy. Plan your schedule around rush hour.

11.    Inflated tires = happy car. Not only do under-inflated tires wear more quickly, they also decrease fuel economy. It is suggested that you check your tire pressure every two weeks and fill them to an appropriate level. It is estimated that 50% of tires on the road are under-inflated.

12.    Take your car for checkups. A tuned car is an efficient car. Be sure to keep an eye out for worn spark plugs: a misfiring spark plug can severely damage your fuel efficiency.

13.    Change your air filter. A clogged, dirty air filter makes your engine work harder than it needs to. Replacing a clogged filter can increase your fuel economy by as much as 10%. The Car Care Council recommends changing your filters as often as your oil: every three months or three thousand miles.

14.    Give your car the drink it wants. Use the grade of oil that your car’s manufacturer recommends. This can increase efficiency from 1 to 2%.

15.    Keep a driving log. Sound familiar? This was Viridorari’s fourth “Green Challenge.” Keeping a log can make you more conscientious about how much your driving, how much fuel you’re using, and how much money you’re spending. Sit down with your family and discuss how you can drive less. One easy way is to plan ahead and combine errands.

16.    Give your car a rest. 25% of all car trips in the United States are less than two miles long. Use public transportation. Walk or bike: it’s healthy for you, and you can use it as an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. This is the best way to save on gas

17.    Start saving up for a hybrid vehicle. To learn about what it’s like to own a hybrid and the benefits of doing so, please read the article by Viridorari’s fifth Guest Writer, my very own grandmother.
       
So, which three of these seventeen gas-savers will you commit to? Which ones are you already doing? I’m going to try to do all of them. Ambitious, I know. Fortunately, I already have several covered. In my opinion, cruise control is the best thing that ever happened to motor vehicles, I always tighten my gas cap past several clicks, the air conditioning in my car is broken, I keep my car impeccably clean, I check my tires regularly, and I love biking in the summer. Wish me luck, and of course, good luck to you too! 

Animal of the Month Update
During the summer, snow leopards may climb as high as 5,000 meters above sea level to reach cooler temperatures! A snow leopard's tail is almost as long as its body. 
In areas where prey is abundant, snow leopards can be closely packed, with territorial ranges of thirty to sixty kilometers. In contrast, areas with flat terrain may not house a lot of prey, but they offer protected traveling routes. In these areas, snow leopards can be widely distributed over an area of 1000 kilometers
This is a blue sheep, one of the animals that snow leopards prey upon:
Haha, just kidding. Here's the real blue sheep:

 

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