Your demand for more eco-friendly cars is inspiring Ford Motor Company to manufacture vehicles that get better gas mileage, use more recycled materials, tap alternative (and less polluting) fuels, and maybe even help you save energy when you're not driving (think: washing your clothes).
I recently spent two days at the Go Further With Ford Trends Conference at Ford's headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, where I had a chance to see first-hand what the company is doing to reduce its environmental impact. Full disclosure: Ford paid all expenses for the trip, though did not pay me a fee, is not paying for this post, and in fact required no post at all. I saw the visit as an opportunity to see "up close and personal" what the company is doing to make good on its sustainability claims. Here's what I found out.
Most people don't think about insulating their homes until the fall. With winter looming, consumers know that higher heating costs will hit them right where it hurts - in their pocket books.
But guess what? As climate change increases, it is becoming more expensive to cool your home in the summer than heat it in the winter. Here's a copy of my 2012 electricity bill, which shows how much electricity I use month to month and compares 2012 overall to 2011. (I have an electric heat pump for both heating and cooling). I use almost twice as much energy to cool my home in July and August than to heat it in November and December!
All of which is to say that, as we face another blistering summer, now is a smart time to think about insulating your home to keep hot air out and cooled air in.
It also provides
them an outlet for sharing their passion for preserving our environment. This
year ENERGY STAR has partnered with the parents group PTO Today and LG
Electronics to share Team ENERGY STAR with kids across the country. PTO Today
has even brought in the heroic characters from a new summer animated eco feature
film, EPIC, which is sure to excite kids of all ages. The movie, voiced by Amanda Seyfried, Beyonce Knowles, Colin Ferrel, and other celebrities you'll recognize, features a
young girl who finds herself transported to a beautiful natural world, a world
she needs to protect.
The Forum focused primarily on women because women spend 85
cents of every dollar in the marketplace – and we’re not just buying cheese
doodles and diapers. As I say here on CCTV, the national television network of China, we buy more clothes.
More food. More cosmetics and personal care products than men. We also
buy more electronics, more home furnishings, almost as many tools, just as many
cars. Women are spending billions of dollars, day in and day out, year in and
But even with all that clout, we won’t be able to use this
power of the purse effectively until we achieve true gender equity
worldwide, points that both Ban Li, Deputy Counsel of the Shaanxi
Women's Federation, and Liane Shalatek, Associate Director of the
Heinrich Boll Foundation North America, made very powerfully.
Lisa Jackson's luncheon keynote address was the highlight of the day for many people. As a mom, scientist, and long-time public servant, Lisa has a unique appreciation for the impact consumption has on us as individuals and on society as a whole. She spoke movingly about being the first African-American to serve as head of the EPA and how important it is to bring women as well as people of color and low-income populations into the conversations we're having about pollution and climate change.
Lisa noted that her favorite law is the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act because it empowers people to protect themselves wherever they live. She is also proud of technology EPA has shared with the city of Shanghai to help monitor air pollution there.
Lisa agreed that the way we use both the purse and the pocketbook can inspire manufacturers to reduce pollution and energy consumption.
Nissan had set up a big pavilion in the parking lot of the local mall to explain how the car works and then let people take it for a test drive. I was ready to be skeptical, since I drive a Prius (the original model, which I purchased in 2002), and love it. Instead, I fell in love with the Leaf. Here's why.
Here we go again: gasoline prices are soaring close to $4.00 a gallon, and several of the countries that export oil to the U.S. are in such political turmoil, we can't be sure our supplies will continue. When, oh when, will we say, "Enough, Already!" and get serious about reducing our dependence on petroleum?
The problem isn't just "foreign" oil. Using any kind of fossil fuel to meet our transportation needs is a losing proposition. Drilling for oil wrecks the planet, or have we already forgotten the Gulf Oil disaster? And burning oil generates climate-changing carbon dioxide and nasty particles that create asthma-inducing smog.
But most of us can't just go out and buy a new set of wheels (unless they're on a bicycle). These ten tips offer the fastest, easiest ways you can save gas and money, no matter what kind of car you drive.
1. Drive smart - Avoid quick starts and stops, use cruise control on the highway, and don't idle.
2. Drive the speed limit - Remember - every 5 mph you drive above 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.10 per gallon for gas.
3. Drive less - This should be a no-brainer. Walk, bicycle, use a scooter or moped, combine trips, and telecommute to work.
What environmental lifestyle shifts are you planning for 2011? If you still haven't been able to make up your mind, take a minute to read about the folks below. In the last couple of weeks in December 2010, they all answered the question, "What's Been Your Biggest, Coolest, Eco-Friendliest Change This Year?" Some people switched to greener cleaning products. Others started their own organic gardens. A few launched their own companies. One person is even building a house from scratch. Hope they give you some great ideas for 2011!
Reader Bonnie installed a programmable thermostat. It cost her $35, but she expects to easily recoup the cost on her heating and cooling bills. StudioJMM of http://profile.typepad.com/studiojmm put solar panels on her roof. Ann started a "no idling" campaign to get buses to turn off their engines when they're waiting to pick up kids at school. Saves energy AND keeps the air cleaner.
Hana, aka the Green Granma http://thegreengrandma.blogspot.com/ discovered "the unending merits of vinegar" for greener cleaning. Celine spent a few dollars on cleaning rags she purchased at Goodwill. Lynne at http://greenertoday.blog.ca/ is now making her own green cleaners, plus buying local and kicking the throwaway water bottle habit.
Most of the time, the debate around fossil fuels centers on how much climate-changing carbon dioxide they generate when they're burned. But every once in a while, an event -- or a string of events -- occurs to remind us that the problems with oil and coal don't start when we set them on fire. They begin at the very beginning - - when we're mining the coal or transporting the oil. Fossil fuels are not just dirty to use; they're dirty and dangerous to mine and transport, which is why the sooner we switch to energy produced by the sun, the wind, and biomass, the better.
Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virgina said on National Public Radio the day after that accident, "There will always be accidents."
He is right. There will always be accidents, and most of the time, they'll have unacceptable consequences, including lives lost and precious environmental resources destroyed.
President Obama has thrown a lot of support behind developing a renewable energy economy for the U.S. but he is equally supportive of "clean coal," which many scientists and most environmentalists consider to be a fiction. He also favors expanding offshore oil drilling. And he's a fan of relaunching the U.S. nuclear power program, despite the potential for catastropic accident on the level of Three Mile Island or Chernobyl.
I believe this is wrong-headed. If any good can come of the recent disasters, it should be a renewed commitment to transition to renewable fuels as quickly as possible, not to expand our non-renewable fuel dependence.
We are throwing good money after bad and unnecessarily endangering human health and the environment with every decision we make to continue to rely on fossil fuels and dangerous energy sources like nuclear power.