Monthly Archives: April 2008

How Does a Family Cope with Just One Car?

Having two cars in a family (or more) is so common these days that many families just cannot imagine living any other way. The sheer convenience is hard to beat. Why would anyone give that up?

using just one car

I can think of a few reasons.

For one, it’s better for the environment, provided you are actually driving less. It’s less gas used. Fewer oil changes. Fewer car repairs in general. It makes you think before you drive anywhere.

It’s also a solid financial decision. The points above that are good for the environment are also good for your pocketbook. You can add in that it cuts back on your ability to shop, since you have to plan your shopping trips better. That does help with saving money.

My family has been living with just one car for close to a year and a half now. It’s not easy, since the city we live in does not have great public transportation. But it is doable. Just takes extra planning at times.

As gas prices go up, this has been more and more a benefit to us. I work at home, and drive much less now that I don’t have my own car. Frivolous trips are much harder to make. But it’s still not easy.

For example, my son has speech therapy on the other side of town. I used Google’s transit website to check the bus schedule. The buses here would get me about halfway there; the rest I’d have to walk. You can see where there’s a bit of a problem. The walk is very long for a 3 year old.

But in many areas, public transportation is one of the big keys to coping with just one car. Need to go somewhere and not take the car? Know how to research your local bus schedules. Most cities have them online now; if not, get a supply of the paper ones and keep them in a safe place.

Scheduling helps a lot. Whenever possible, I schedule things around when I will have a car available. This is easy for things like grocery shopping and other errands, but more challenging for doctor’s appointments and such.

If nothing else works, there’s always borrowing someone else’s car. I don’t like to do this, as the people I can most easily ask this of live a distance away and so there’s a lot of extra gas used. Kind of takes away from the whole point of having just one car. But done only when there’s no other solution, this can be a valid solution while still cutting back on your total use of cars.

This brings up another possibility that the person who needs the car most should consider. Carpooling. A good carpool can cut back even further on your use of your car and make it available for other needs.

You can’t forget the biggest challenge, of course. What if the one car breaks down? Suddenly there’s no other car to replace it. A plan for getting to work or any other places that you have to go to become vital. You’ll need to know your alternatives. If you carpool, you have a big advantage.

And of course, there’s always biking or walking. Either of these is good for you and for the environment. A bike with a basket is great for local errands, and you’re limited in your shopping to what you feel comfortable carrying on your bike. That’s more limiting for some than for others.

If you want to walk to the store, you can bring a rolling basket or your kids’ wagon along. I don’t know how stores would feel about a wagon being brought in, but you can always ask the manager or find the bike rack and lock it up there.

Overall, this can be a workable possibility for many families. If you aren’t sure that it would work for yours, just try driving like your family has only one car for a time. Keep one car at home at all times, and you’ll know if it’s possible.

Wow It’s Hot Today!

Here we are, late April in southern California, and we’re somewhere around 101-109 degrees F, depending on which source you want to believe. It’s really hot.

san diego heat wave

But we haven’t yet turned on the air conditioning.

We’re coping by dressing cool, first of all. I have a ceiling fan over my desk, and we’re going to have to start pulling more out if this keeps up.

We’ll also have to pull out the cardboard and blankets to cover windows, so that we can keep the heat out.

These are things that have worked well for us in the past. We often get by with very little air conditioner use even on the really hot days.

Some of it is just adaptation. My indoor thermometer is showing 86 degrees, and I’m comfortable. It really doesn’t seem that bad.

Another factor is that the attic air hasn’t warmed up all the way yet, so the house isn’t retaining so much heat through the night, giving it an early start in the morning. At least that’s my best guess for what’s happening. The house certainly seems to heat up faster when we have a lot of hot days and warm nights, but give equally hot days but compare a warm night to a cool night, and the house doesn’t seem to heat up so much the days after a cool night.

My husband went out and gave the garden some water this morning, and we’ll no doubt have to keep a sharp eye out for wilting if this heat keeps up. I’d sure hate to lose the garden this early. But it’s going to take some careful watering in the mornings and evenings to manage things well.

And yes, the picture was taken near my home. We’re this hot and slightly cloudy, which makes things outside really deceptive.

Oh, and the outside temperatures are now claiming 104 degrees as a minimum. It’s changed even since I started typing this.

Finding Products Without Bisphenol-A

Since I’ve been doing a series of posts on BPA, I figured it was time to include a list of products you can use that don’t contain it. Glass, obviously, but many plastics also don’t have it, and can sometimes be the simplest solution… so long as you mean to keep it for a very long time, and perhaps give to someone else when you’re done with it.

That’s the chronic problem I have with plastics. You do better by reusing them, but eventually they’re still a problem. How I look forward to good plastic recycling, not the picky sort of plastic recycling many places have now!

Water Bottles

I use a water bottle daily myself. It’s Nalgene, which means I’m going to have to replace it one of these days now that I know it has BPA in it. That wasn’t something I’d heard about at the time of purchase, so it seemed to be a good decision at the time. Live and learn. Thank goodness they’re dropping the BPA now.

Sigg and Klean Kanteen look to be good options. I’ve heard there’s some question about what Sigg’s liners are made of, as they won’t share the details. That means it will most likely be Klean Kanteen.

Lunch Boxes

I pack my daughter’s lunch for school pretty much every day. My goal for next year is to get her a Laptop Lunches lunch box. I love the number of containers it has to make it easier to separate the various parts of my daughter’s lunches.

The Henry’s by me carries something along those same lines, so I may investigate and buy it on one of my regular shopping trips there. The packaging has a little cuter styling, which may be more appealing to my daughter. Just have to see if I can check on the BPA and/or lead thing.

Baby Bottles, Pacifiers and More

There are a few options for if you want to get supplies for your baby that are BPA-free. One is to shop around your area to find glass bottles and silicone nipples and pacifiers.

But I also found that a general search on for BPA turns up all kinds of supplies that do not have BPA in them. After all, who’s going to describe their merchandise as having BPA? You can also search the Baby section for terms such as silicone to get silicone nipples and pacifiers.

Even if you don’t buy online it’s one way to find out what brands you want to shop for locally, and that can be a real time saver.

Earth Day on Other Blogs

Since I don’t have any particular plans for Earth Day, I thought I’d take a look at what other blogs are suggesting. Perhaps it will inspire me or one of my readers.

Environmental Graffiti suggests Five Fun Things to Do For Earth Day. Well, the coffee one would be easy for me. I’m one of those people who doesn’t drink it. Oops, I guess that means it doesn’t count!

Crunchy Domestic Goddess has some ideas for Making Earth Day a Family Day. I like her suggestion about water consumption, as that’s already been a topic of discussion in my home. The city we live in is doing a really big push to get everyone to cut back their consumption by at least 20 gallons a day.

TreeHugger is noting that even the comics are going green for Earth Day. Take a look, enjoy the laughs.

The Good Human wants us to Make This EarthDay A Real Earth Day. He suggests things as simple as not buying anything. I can handle that one easy.

NatureMoms Blog is having a Gorgeously Green – Earth Week Giveaway. You can get a copy of Gorgeously Green: 8 Steps to an Earth Friendly Life just by commenting on her blog.

Groovy Green also has a giveaway. Theirs is the Filter For Good Earth Day Giveaway. You can win a Brita faucet filtration system and a Nalgene bottle. It’s to promote the website.

Crafting a Green World has some suggestions in their post Happy Earth Day Eve. There are plenty of ideas for those who feel the urge to get creative.

Even NASA’s going green for Earth Day. While launching rockets is messy to say the least, if it weren’t for NASA we wouldn’t know nearly as much as we do about our planet and what’s happening to it. Despite it all, I’m still a fan. Blame my dad. He tried for years to get into the astronaut program. It pretty much rubbed off on me.

The Mother Load is celebrating Earth Day by discussing some of the changes her family has made. Have you taken all these steps yet?

Of course, there’s a lot more going on. Care to share posts you’ve made about Earth Day?

Any Plans for Earth Day?

Tomorrow is Earth Day. Anyone have plans?

I don’t so far. We already went to an early celebration over at Blue Sky Ecological Reserve about a week ago. The kids had a lot of fun. They ended up too tired to help plant trees or even hike very far, but they got to see a rescued possum, tortoise and some other animals.

Besides, we’d hiked about 4-6 miles there the week before that. Not quite sure how far because the trail indicators said about 4 miles, but when my husband looked it over online he came up with about 6 miles. Lots of trails to pick from, so we probably just didn’t go the short way.

We do have a lot of things we do regularly anyhow. We garden. If things go well, my husband gets a new job so we can stay here, we really want to plant a fruit tree in the yard. No budget to do so otherwise.

We open blinds during the day when the weather is nice so we use less electricity. That will stop working in the summer, when it’s keep the blinds shut and cover the windows with sheets or cardboard so we don’t need to use the air conditioner.

We compost. Recycle. Try not to buy things we don’t really need.

So, no particular plans for Earth Day. But I think we’re off to a decent start most of the year anyhow.

What are you doing?