August 02, 2007

More Energy Calculators

There are, of course, a huge number of calculators online that offer visitors the chance to discover just how nasty or nice to the environment our living habits actually are. My beef with these calculators is twofold:
  • They rarely explain the math behind the calculations.
  • They often gloss over many of the ways in which we impact our environment.
I've just stumbled across a calculator that seems to address at least this latter problem. The Personal Environmental Impact Calculator breaks down your energy use into transportation, recycling, water, and energy. It's not exactly the sexiest calculator out there, and there are a few broken links but most of the results are well documented, and provide helpful conservation suggestions and further reading.

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July 12, 2007

Walk It Out

How does your neighborhood rate on the walkability scale? Get your hood's Walk Score now! This is such a great use of Google Maps it kills me. Not only does it rate your area, but it shows you all the cool stuff nearby.

My hood rates a 92 out of 100, which fails to take into account minor details like the recent rash of muggings and hold-ups in the area. But still, 92 is pretty damn good!

[via Triple Pundit]

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July 07, 2007

What's Your Foodometer Read?

What a great little vid that reveals a whole lot of depth in a wonderful way:

[Via the wonderful Ethicurian]

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February 28, 2007

Walkable Neighborhoods

What does the phrase city planning conjur up in your mind? If you're like most folks I come across, you have one of two reactions. Either your eyes glaze over and you visualize boring suits at ineffectual hearings making pointless decisions for the rest of us, or you think of traffic jams, road rage, no parking and chain stores.

Either way, if you think city planning doesn't affect you, think again. Every step you take outside your house is impacted by the folks who planned and created your built environment. There was a great example of this in a recent edition of the SF Chronicle. The article in question discusses how the residents of the New Urbanist community in Hercules, CA aren't in walking distance of a local coffee shop. They have to get in their cars to run to the corner store. That's not just inefficient, it's bad for the environment.

I brought up the benefits of walkable neighborhoods long before I came across the Walkable Neighborhoods blog. Although apparently somewhat commercial in nature (the group works to link realtors with homeowners who value a walkable community), it offers really great insights into the benefits and possibilities of neighborhoods that encourage residents to interact with their environment and, ultimately, each other.

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November 18, 2006

Car Shares: All the Perks, None of the Work

Car ownsership really isn't all it's cracked up to be. As I watch my sacred '89 Volvo slowly deteriorate before my eyes (she's clocking 290,000 miles and then some), I wonder what my next move will be. I'd love to be able to justify the expense of a new car, so I can get a shiny new hybrid. But in all honesty, I have more important things to save for. I could always buy a beater but not only does that require more maintenance and expense, it's not the most sustainable option.

I could buy a motorcycle, which uses less gas, but I don't trust San Francisco drivers. I could buy a bicycle, but that won't help me with the groceries. So what's a girl who loves to drive to do? The answer is car shares. Car sharing services are basically low-cost community car rental agencies. Most provide a fleet of cars (some even offer hybrids), which you may access for a nominal fee. You reserve a car parked near you, use an electronic key to get in, and then return the car to the same space when you're done.

There are a number of car sharing services throughout the U.S.:

  1. City Car Share (Bay Area only)
  2. ZipCar (multiple states)
  3. I-Go (Chicago only)
  4. VirtuCar (Ottowa, Canada)
  5. FlexCar (multiple states)
For a comprehensive list of car share companies around the world, visit Earth Easy's list. Have you used a car share service? Share your comments and experiences with us by posting a comment, below.

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