The Real Sign at the Gas Station

Mar 08, 2011 Comments Off by EcoFlirt

The signs we watch at gas stations become scarier each day. Some days, the prices on the signs jump a few cents; other days, they leap a dime. The scarier sign, though, is how much that number affects our lives.

Are we at the mercy of the number on the sign? For many of us, commuting to jobs is a must; traveling to visit friends and family is non-negotiable. While we wait for our country to adopt a more forward-thinking energy policy, though, there are things we can do in our daily lives so that we become less dependent on how much oil we use. 

These habits, adopted en masse, could affect real change in our country. You’ll be amazed to learn the degree to which small habits can make a big difference. So instead of just grimacing at the gas pumps, adopt a few green habits to loosen the leash that gas prices keep on us: 

  • Drive less.
    What routes do you take by car that could be substituted with a bike ride or a walk? Multi-task and run your errands while getting your cardio. Charlotte’s becoming more bike-friendly all the time; check out the  official Charlotte bicycle program plan.
  • When you do drive, drive responsibly.
    This doesn’t mean selling your car to buy a Prius. We eco-friendly types are all about consuming less, so buying a new car isn’t the green choice necessarily. It’s easier than that: keep your tires properly inflated, your engine running smoothly, and use the recommended grade of motor oil and you’ll increase the miles you go per gallon up to 9%. (Source: Dept. of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and the EPA)
  • Eat less meat.
    Industrial farming is a petroleum-based industry in this country, so reducing our meat intake reduces the amount of oil our lives necessitate. Even if you don’t go the Full Veggie, try having one meatless day this week. Next week, try two. When you’re fiending for a steak or pork chop? Find local farmers who sell humanely raised meat. (Read “Vegetarian is the New Prius“)
  • Eat local foods.
    Reduce your food’s transportation-related oil consumption – while supporting your local economy – by choosing to buy local foods. Charlotte is blessed with a variety of farmer’s markets. Better yet, grow your own food. Large space is not required; you’d be surprised how much you can grow in just a small patch of sunny yard or in containers on a patio.
  • Use Less Plastic.
    Just today, pay attention to how much plastic you come across. It’s a sobering exercise. Petroleum is an ingredient of things we wouldn’t even think of, from umbrellas to luggage to guitar strings. For helpful tips on reducing the petroleum-based items in your life, read this helpful blog for 81 ways to cut down on plastic
  • Buy Secondhand.
    When you can, choose second-hand items. Beside saving you some money, choosing second-hand items lowers oil necessary for the production and transportation of new goods. From books to clothes to furniture, second-hand shopping is the green option.
  • Perform an energy audit of your home.
    You can hire the pros or do it yourself. While the bigger, sexier energy-efficient improvements top many people’s wish lists (solar panels!), some of the biggest improvements can be made with a caulk gun, a free afternoon and a couple dollars. (More tips from US Dept of Energy)

Green Living
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