I am, and always will be, a massive consumer.
Oh, I got you, didn’t I? April Fools! I got an April Fools email from Grist that said Al Gore was running for president as an independent and just about crapped myself. Then I realized. So I thought I’d try my hand at duping my readers. All three of them.
Anyway, I’ve been making an effort to curb my consumerism. It appeals to me both as an environmentalist and a single mother who does not receive child support. But I’m not being very good at it. I figured out how to work Itunes on my iPhone, and I blew a hundred bucks on MP3s. Ooops. Its so easy to spend money when you’re not actually handing it over or reviewing orders or receiving a physical product. At least I didn’t buy actual CDs, which use a lot of energy to produce and end up taking up a lot of space in landfills. And I now have a very respectable Sufjan Stevens collection.
And I have to buy a car this weekend. YIKES!! My mom got a job (everybody clap your hands!) on the other end of town from where I work (everybody boo!) which means no more car pooling for us. So, I wanted a Yaris, but I don’t know if that’s going to work out for me. Now I’m researching the next greenest options in my price range. Its not looking pretty, but hopefully I’ll be getting a bike soon to minimize my driving anyhow. There’s another purchase! Oh no!
But I’m trying, and its a start. At least I’m making an effort to green up the things I do buy. As for my information consumption, on the other hand, I am upping the consumption as much as I can! And I thought I’d share some valuable info that I had emailed to me today. No more foolin.
QUICK FACTS OF THE WEEK:
A NATION BUILT ON UNSUSTAINABILITY – FUEL, FOOD, AND DEBT
- With trucking diesel fuel prices now over $4 per gallon in many locations, food prices are reaching an all time high, since the average grocery store item has traveled 1500-3500 miles.
- Over the past year, alone, consumers have been forced to pay significantly more for staples like eggs (25 percent), milk (17 percent), cheese (15 percent), bread (12 percent), and rice (13 percent). This is partially due to increased costs of transportation and partially due to massive amounts of cropland being converted to biofuel production. As a result, consumers are paying more for their food and paying $15 billion in increased taxes per year for biofuel subsidies.
- Fuel prices have nearly doubled the expenses of commuters over the last year. Recent polls show a strong majority of U.S. citizens are in favor of allocating a larger portion of the federal budget for mass transportation.
- In contrast, the amount of federal money earmarked for mass transit projects (example: rail and bus) has been reduced by nearly 70% since the Bush Administration took over in 2001.
- A record number of consumers are using credit cards to pay for increased fuel costs. Although the recession has negatively impacted employment, the New York Times reports one of the few booming occupations in the current job market is as a Debt Collector.
- Since 2001, the top five oil companies have increased their annual profits by an average of 500%.
SUSTAINABILITY TIPS OF THE WEEK:
ON THE EVE OF PEAK OIL- HOW TO CUT FUEL COSTS
Obviously driving less, using mass transit, biking, walking or purchasing a fuel efficient vehicle are the best ways to cut your fuel consumption. But for those times where driving a car is a necessity, here are some tips:
- Don’t be a jerky driver: Jumpy starts and fast getaways can burn over 50 percent more gasoline than normal acceleration. Use cruise control once accelerated.
- Drive slower: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, most automobiles get about 20 percent more miles per gallon on the highway at 55 miles per hour than they do at 70 miles per hour.
- A well maintained car (oil change, fuel filters, tire pressure, alignment) gets an average of 10 percent better fuel efficiency.
- Turn off your engine if you stop for more than one minute. (This does not apply if you are in traffic.) Restarting the automobile will use less gasoline than idling for more than one minute.
- Decrease the number of short trips you make. Short trips drastically reduce gas mileage. If an automobile gets 20 miles per gallon in general, it may get only 4 miles per gallon on a short trip of 5 miles or less.
These tips are courtesy of the Organic Consumers Association