Day Twenty One

I was sitting at work today thinking that just about the only green thing I'd be rocking today is my head full of snot... when a representative from Office Depot came in and saved the day!

Despite the "No Solicitors" sign on our door, we get a lot of people who show up and try to sell us stuff. Luckily, I was the only one in the office when this dude popped in, so I was able to pull the old "I'm sorry, I'm not in charge of purchasing, I'm just filling in for the day. Can I take your card?" It's the politest brush-off I can think of :) Now, imagine my surprise when, instead of a card, he handed me a zip-locked bag. What, you ask, was in this bag?

Check it out!

Yep, that's a zebra pen and pencil set made from over 70% recycled materials. This pen/pencil set is made of discarded CDs, headlights, LCD screens, car battery cases, and shopping baskets. Pretty neat :) Not only do I have my "little something" for the world right there, but it also makes a nice segue into the topic I wanted to address today,

Green Consumerism

Once again, this is sparked by stumbling across something in my online travels, a fantastic GOOD article called "Don't Buy Green".

This article brings up some very relevant points about the relationship between "green" goods and consumerism. The most important things I took away from this article are:

Buying eco-friendly versions of things you already use/need/etc? great!
Buying extras "just because" they're green? wasteful. I replaced the light bulbs in my house with energy-efficient ones, but only as the conventional bulbs burned out over time. It's not "green" to toss a good bulb in the name of efficiency!

As a final note, this article is quite helpful in sorting out the good, the bad, and the false when it comes to carbon footprint offset programs.

Today, I:
Wrote phone messages with recycled shopping carts.
Gave up and took some Tylenol severe sinus stuff... I'm pretty much miserable today. Today's a wash in terms of "me" stuff, but everyone deserves an off day every now and then.



Going Loco(motive)

This entry introduces a new facet of the Greener Alice blog, greener topics! I'll be tackling things such as eating locally, gardening greener, "recycled" crafts, and lots more!! Today's topic, as you might have guessed from the subject, is about... cars!

Having just bought myself a "gas guzzler" (see Day Nineteen), I spent some time online today looking at "hypermiling" tips. Ok, it didn't start that way, but it never does.

I was doing some research pricing repairs for the new monster, and one of the links that popped up sent me to a forum at ecomodder all about driving tips and modifications to improve gas mileage. That got me thinking... my truck's always going to be a truck, but I can at least do something to coax better mileage out of her.

For the geek minded, there's some really fascinating information over at this cleanmpg page. It includes some great driving tips on how to get the most out of your gas, and a lot of graphs and charts explaining the aerodynamics behind several of the tips and modifications. A warning, though... the basic tips are great, but some of the more "advanced" ones are dangerous! Some of the advanced tips are even illegal in certain states, so use your common sense.

Some quick tips I've gleaned from the various articles I read today:
  • Check your owner's manual and use the lowest kinematic viscosity oil that is recommended for your car. Most cars can even take a lower number than what is "suggested", make friends with your local auto supply and talk to the folks there. Mobile1 0W-20 was highly recommended in several of the forums, it's one of the lowest-viscosity synthetic oils on the market.
  • On a related note, regular tune-ups and filter changes can save you tons in gas mileage! 
  • When your car goes in for a tune-up, ask your mechanic to check the oxygen sensor. Engines run on gas AND air, and having a working oxygen sensor is essential for a proper mix in the fuel injection system.
  • "Hypermiling" driving techniques look a lot like Sunday driving... accelerate slowly, brake slowly, coast when you can, and try to avoid roads with a lot of stop signs. You don't have to drive like this all the time (especially if it would be unsafe to do so!) but just keeping a few of these ideas in mind can help you stretch your gas tank a little further.
  • When running errands, drive to the farthest point first, then work your way back. Cars run best when the engine is warmed up, and you defeat that each time you drive a short distance then cut the engine. Driving to the farthest point first then making stops on your way home helps make the most of your driving time to warm up the engine.
Hope you enjoyed part one of greener driving!


Day Twenty:

In the next few days, you'll see the dates behind this start filling in as I post the drafts from the last week and a half... I have a connection at home again!

Today was a very *eh* day. Woke up feeling yucky somethin' fierce, but I hauled butt to the office anyway... had some MAJOR editing to do, and didn't want to be hit with a double-load on Wednesday. Did battle with a barely-working computer, tried to swap it out with another computer in the office only to discover that one was even worse, tried to explain the situation to the computer-illiterate boss... oh that was fun, hehe. "This is running Windows 2000, it doesn't support your network. And it's wicked slow." "But it was only used for two months! It's barely used!"

* Side story, when my computer started acting up, I told boss-man about it. He said "ya know what the problem is? We all spend too much time online. If we use the internet less I bet that wouldn't happen. Try it, you'll see I'm right." That's like... if I said my car wouldn't start, and someone told me "you should just change the light bulbs, that'll fix it!"

I won one little battle today, though. I convinced boss-man to put energy-efficient bulbs in the bathroom! He won't use them in the rest of the office, because they give off the "wrong" light, but he conceded that it couldn't hurt to have them in the bathrooms. Yay for me! Next step, teaching the boys to recycle... ug.

Off to end my night with a netti pot and some Olbas herbal tea, one of the most sacred things in my house.

Today, I:
Won a small battle for energy efficiency!
Ended my evening with some yoga stretches and breathing... mmm, feeling a bit better already.



Day Nineteen

Today started out as a tightly-scheduled nightmare, and ended... beautifully. I love days like that.

First, I'd like to note that I have the best daddy ever. After running around to the bank, the office (where daddy's check book was no where to be found!), the dance studio (don't ask), the school (to pick up a sick brother, not part of the plan!), and more... and making several calls back and forth to my insurance agent, I was just about primed for a melt-down.

Then daddy swooped in, grabbed all my paperwork, the cash I had gathered so far, and rode off into the sunset... only to appear later with my registration, insurance card, and plates for my NEW TRUCK. What a guy.

So, for the first time ever... I own a vehicle that *I* picked out and that *I* paid for, and while I did have some help with the whole deal (Greg! Dad! Mom! Pat!), it feels damn good/totally terrifying to have something so wholly on my shoulders.

I call this... progress.

(Pictures to come when she gets home from K&M Trucks, Lucy's* getting a new set of brake lines!)

*I should explain. A truck this beautiful and bursting with personality deserves a name. The logic here is that she's big, red, kind of funny looking but graceful and beautiful in her own unconventional way, and my favorite part... at 23 1/2 years young, she can't be in the 'show'! (Standards vary greatly, but many people consider it acceptable to call a car/truck a "classic" once it hits 25 years old...)

Today, I:
"recycled" some more of last year's potting soil into the garden.
Took a walk around the track with my mama.



In The In-Between Time

I've been without an internet connection at home for several days now... I'm still writing posts! I just don't have the associated pics and links embedded yet and all that. And that's most certainly not happening tonight.

Just so ya know :)

Also, tonight was an AWESOME night filled with good traffic, better parking spaces, art students, a grandparent, awesome food, funny faces, and excellent music. My family pretty much rocks.