Driving in the Slow Lane

I am not sure if it is growing up on a farm in rural Alberta, or just the genes passed down to me from my father, but I have been know to have a heavy foot when it comes to driving.  (Although, I did not try to kill gophers on the road while driving at high speeds, like Dad did.)  So moving to the slow lane is difficult for me.

For every gallon of gas a car burns it releases 20 lbs of carbon dioxide into the air, so to preserve our earth we need to foster fuel efficiency.  So I have a list of 10 things we can do to be more fuel efficient in our automobiles, because not all of us can afford to go out and purchase a Toyota Prius.

  1. The optimal fuel efficiency for all cars is around 100 km/h, so drive the speed limit.
  2. Keep your tires properly inflated because then there is less surface area that comes in contact with the road, therefore creating less drag.
  3. Idling for more than 10 seconds is actually less efficient than turning the car off and on again, so avoid drive throughs.
  4. Drive at a steady speed, and avoid sudden braking or accelerating.
  5. In manuel transmission switch to a higher gear as soon as possible.
  6. Using the AC decreases fuel efficiency (easy right now, but lets see how it goes come summer).
  7. Keep the air filters clean.
  8. Pack light, don’t carry around extra stuff in your car.
  9. Keep the engine properly maintained.
  10. Smile at all the people passing you in the slow lane, maybe they will see how much fun it is to slow down and want to join in.

I have made a couple successful trips to the Hamilton Airport in the slow lane.  The first time was the hardest, and I had to talk myself through the experience.  I kept telling myself: just relax, think of how much less carbon dioxide you are producing, the slow lane is the new cool lane, etc.  The true test will be if I can stay in the slow lane for the whole 3 hour trip to the cottage – with small children.

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Published in: on February 3, 2009 at 2:27 am  Comments (1)  

VOC’s and Houseplants

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) ranks indoor air pollution as one of the top five environmental risks to human health.  Indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air.  Why?  A big reason is VOC’s.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) are carbon-based compounds that form vapors/gases  in our homes.  They are emitted from many, many household products, plastics, cleaners, cosmetics, air fresheners, hairsprays, carpets, furnishings, paints, treated wood, particle board, glues, adhesives, copiers, printers… You get the idea.  If you smell something (including fragrance), you are likely detecting a VOC.

Why are they dangerous?  They are irritating to eyes, lungs, nose, and throat.  They can cause neurological and organ damage and cancer.  When exposed you may experience headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, or asthma attacks. (There is some belief that the increase in asthma is due to poor indoor air quality.)

So what can we do?  We can remove toxic products from our home, we can make sure our homes are well ventilated, and we can make sure that we have houseplants. 

I say if NASA can do it, so can I!  Apparently, in the early 1970’s scientists working on a space station realized they had a big problem with all the VOC’s circulating in the station’s atmosphere.  Their solution was using dozens of varieties of plants to clear the air.  Houseplants absorb gases from the air and store it in their roots, they emit water vapor to keep healthy levels of humidity in our homes, and they give off photochemicals that defend against mold and bacteria.  I’d say that is pretty amazing!  It sure convinced me that more houseplants (besides the one barely surviving cactus) are needed in my house.

There is a ranking of super air cleaner houseplants and these are some that make the list:  bamboo palm, Chinese evergreen, Dracaena massangeana, dragon tree, chrysanthemum, English ivy, peace lily, pothos, philodendron, snake plant, Boston fern, areca palm, mother-in-law’s tongue, and spider plant.  There is a book by B.C. Wolverton that I would like to get my hands on called How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 Houseplants That Purify Your Home or Office.

Today I added cleaner air to my home with 3 peace lilies, 2 Chinese evergreens, 1 mother-in-law’s tongue, and 2 unknown tropical plants.  Now I just need to treat them well and find them a babysitter when I go to the cottage.

Published in: on January 17, 2009 at 2:19 am  Comments (1)