Category Archives: Sustainable Energy

Should Gasoline Prices Be Higher?

I got started thinking on this by reading a post over on the Freakonomics blog. There are some really great points on both sides.

I come at this as someone in a one-car family. I work at home, so I don’t especially need a car, although when the budget permits I will doubtless get one again. Just have to keep fuel efficiency in mind.

There are a lot of comments on this post, and I have to agree that gas prices don’t seem to be impacting how much a lot of people drive. It may be doing a little, however. I took a trip to visit my grandmother in the hospital on Memorial Day weekend, and the traffic was amazingly light, when I had expected heavy. It made me wonder if gas prices had anything to do with it.

But what does not change is the driving people have to do. No matter how they grumble about their commute and the impact of higher gas prices on their budget, most people aren’t going to move closer to their jobs. They grumble and pay the price for the gas. Continue reading →

Is the May 15 Gas Out Worth the Effort?

I read about the May 15 gas out over at Green Options, and while I’ve heard of many of these happening before, I still find the idea interesting.

The basic concept is that for one day you do not buy any gas. Ideally, you don’t use any gas either, but that won’t be practical for many people. This unfortunately limits how well this kind of thing works because many people will just buy the day before or the day after, and things will probably mostly balance out.

Which is really a pity.

This idea has been bouncing around for a while. I hear about a gas out every few months, especially when prices are climbing. Prices in my area are generally over $3.40/gallon, so buying a tank of gas is quite painful for many budgets.

But there are better ways to show gas companies that you don’t like where things have been going. You can use less gas on a regular basis. Get millions of people to commit to that, and you will have a far greater impact on gas companies than using no or less gas for a single day. Continue reading →

College Students Choosing to Pay for Offsets

This is a kind of neat thing that I read over at Tree Hugger. Students at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon have passed a $15 fee to go towards buying clean energy. They aren’t the first campus to do this, but this is the first time I’ve heard about it, so I’m mentioning it.

However, unlike the other schools, they decided to go for 100%, rather than a partial offset. Very bold, and really not all that expensive per person.

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Here Come Printable Solar Cells

G24 Innovations in Cardiff, U.K. is about to start printing solar cells on flexible, film-like materials. These aren’t as efficient as silicon cells, but can work with lower light levels, even indoors.

That’s just really wonderful to hear. Silicon is expensive and fairly scarce. These cells can essentially recycle the light indoors if you use them on countertops and such. Just think of all the unused and underused surfaces that could be covered with these to produce electricity.

No doubt it will be a while before you start seeing much of these, especially here in the United States, but as more companies start printing solar cells they could become quite a bit more common.

Of course, it may be some time before the prices get to where they’re easily acceptable. I don’t know what it’s going to cost yet, but as the technology improves there is certainly hope for it to be affordable for most people.

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How It’s Made Matters

One of the hardest things about going green is figuring out how to take into account the entire lifecycle of the products you use. Some things that are green in terms of the carbon produced as you use them are not as green as other products by the time you take into account the manufacture and disposal.

I especially found this report comparing the Toyota Prius and the Hummer interesting. It sounds discouraging until you do a little research and find this discussion on the Prius and that article with some great links. That site is obviously biased towards the Prius, but the resources they use look pretty good. Not to mention the personal experiences in terms of durability.
But I do like seeing discussion on considering how these things are made. It matters a great deal and too often that question is left unanswered for consumers. Living green is tough and answers often are not all that clear cut.

I like to keep up on which vehicles are good. We only have the one car right now, but when finances allow, we will go back to having two, and I want to pick one that is reliable and environmentally friendly.

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