Summertime is for vacations. They are good for the soul. Vacations usually mean travel. We would not ask you to give that up. But we do challenge you in August to give yourself a gas budget.
The reasons to cut back on gasoline consumption are obvious. The extraction and transportation of oil take a huge toll on planet surfaces and bodies of water. When it is burned in the form of gasoline, air and ozone are effected. When mistakes happen in the extraction or transportation process, the consequences are dire.
Peak oil is an issue that needs attention. There is a finite amount of oil. Worldwide production is past it's maximum, but demand is not slowing at the same rate as the declining reserves. Some studies have predicted the demand for oil will surpass the supply by as early as 2015. We have to adjust our ways. Changing habits now will make the transition easier.
When filling our tank, we might not be thinking about sea life after an oil spill or the Arctic ice that is now covered in a lake. But whatever happens to one, will affect the rest. The poisoned ocean affects not only the marine life, but also those who are part of the clean-up process or live nearby. The melting arctic ice means higher global temperatures and more carbon dioxide and methane in the air. If you think about the human body and what a fever does to it, even a few degrees could mean the difference between life and death. The earth also needs to maintain a balance. If we do think, would it change our habits, even just a little?
This month, to get your gas budget down, consider the following:
Walk or Bike It's good for you, both in mind and body. Make a trip you'd normally take by car into a daily exercise goal. Walk your child to school if you live in town.
Consolidate trips Unfortunately, not everything is within walking distance. When driving is necessary, be sure to pick up, drop off, and do everything you'll need to do in that area in one trip. Make lists. Try to be organized and efficient.
Arrange carpools with other parents, friends, and co-workers. Some other places to find/ give rides:
"Smart Jitney" A system that connects people willing to give rides to people needing rides. A public taxi system. www.avego.com/
Shepherdstown, WV Bulletin Board. Join the facebook group for all things Shepherdstown.
Bus schedule for travel in Charles Town, Martinsburg, the VA Medical Center and surrounding areas. www.pantran.com/
Marc rail for commuting to the D.C. Metro area. mta.maryland.gov/marc-train
Put children on school bus when school starts later this month. boe.jeff.k12.wv.us/
If any parents feel inclined, start "a walking bus" system for the elementary and middle school kids living in town. A few parents would have to volunteer to map out route and escort kids to school.
Buy Gas Efficient Transportation
Federal tax incentives and the increasing popularity and demand make hybrid and electric cars comparable to the cost of gasoline engine cars. Plugging in and using power from the grid is more efficient but not the over-all best solution. Consider also installing solar panels if possible.
100% electric cars: Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus, Mitsubishi i, Tesla Models
Hybrids: From Hatchbacks to SUVs, there are so many: Toyota Prius, Chevy Volt, Ford Fusion, Honda Civic, Ford Escape, Chevy Tahoe, Toyota Highlander, GMC Yukon,...
Fuel efficient cars: Gas mileagee ranges from 30- 40 combined MPG: Honda Fit,Volkswagenn Golf TDI (diesel), Chevy Cruze ECO, Toyota Yaris,...
Motorcycles and scooters also get good gas mileage- anywhere from about 40 to 100 miles per gallon.
Lower Ground Level Ozone
Good ozone is the protective layer high in the atmosphere. Bad ozone is ground level ozone which causes poor air quality. It can lead to asthma and respiratory problems. To lower ground level ozone:
Mow lawns in the evening, not in the heat of the day.
Be careful not to spill gas.
Turn off your car when waiting for a train, the bus, or other instances that will be longer than a minute or so.
If you like to join our mailing list or have ideas for our group, please visit www.sustainableshepherdstown.org