Posts Tagged ‘public transportation’

Memorial Day is just about here, and summer is peaking around the corner. BBQs, tubing trips, baseball games, sleepovers, and pool parties (Hot Child in the City) are in your near future and you need a couple summer reminders. As you already know, I think everything in our environment, and all the actions we take are interconnected and affect our health and well-being and our wallet.

I came across this Top Ten List on the benefits of local food from Fox News (omg yes Fox News, everything is ok). You can find the full list here, but here are a few of my favorites:

1. Locally grown. Items at farmer’s markets have not “travelled” far. The carbon footprint to transport from nearby farms is teeny compared to what’s consumed over hundreds and thousands of miles by sea, air or long-distance trucking. Also, local produce is stacked in wooden crates, which avoids the environmentally polluting packaging, which protects produce from bruising or extends its time before perishing in long-distance transport.

2. Cleaner and safer. Farmer’s markets produce is grown organically or with far less use of chemicals. Produce sold in regular stores is full of toxic pesticides, fungicides, and other chemical fertilizers and sprays. Similarly, breads & baked goods aren’t pumped full of unhealthy preservatives that extend shelf life.

3. Keeps our communities healthy, too. The more we support local farmers who grow food in healthy ways, the more they–and their beautiful farmland–will flourish. Buying at local markets puts money directly into the pockets of local farmers and craftspeople rather than industrial conglomerates.

4. Free exercise. We can often walk or bike to the markets, getting free exercise. Besides, simply walking in the open air is a good way to get vitamin D.

Lastly, on biking and how it does a body good (which I’m sure you’re in the know about), D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare company released the results of its recent membership survey.  I admit I have a love affair with Capital Bikeshare; although its riders may be nuts, I appreciate what the company has accomplished (remember when I posted about Capital Bikeshare last year?). Riders saved an estimated $800 on transportation costs annually!  After obtaining a membership they were 76% more likely to ride to work.  Membership is still mostly within D.C., and now the company hopes to expand to areas like the Anacostia (Northeast D.C.) so that those neighborhoods can see the health benefits as well.  All communities should have access to safe and healthy transportation options.

Here is a summary of a few of the health benefits from the bikeshare survey: “Nearly 27 percent reported improved stamina after joining the system, 31.5 percent said their stress levels diminished, and 18.4 percent reported losing weight thanks to bicycle sharing. The numbers of members who consider themselves in good or excellent condition increased, while figures for those who consider themselves in poor, average, or fair health decreased.”  You can read the full article here.

Enjoy those tasty local foods, and bike/walk/public transit more. Cheers.

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Do you live in the Washington D.C. area and have an occasion to celebrate?  I have a new recommendation for you. I would like to introduce you to a bar on wheels called the Trolley Pub of Arlington, VA.

You're telling me I can drink and bike and not get a DUI?

You’re telling me I can drink and bike and not get a DUI?

Warm weather is approaching in the Northeast and Midwest and this might be your cure for those cold weather blues.  Get 6-14 of your friends together (heck you and your buddy could just ask random people to join, who wouldn’t want to do this?!) for a two hour tour (that will run you $420 total, or $30 per person) and get your pedaling legs and drinking arm (you might need both hands to keep a steady grip on your brew, what about potholes?) ready for a good time.  Smaller tours for groups of 1-6 are $35 per person. The tour promises to stop at your favorite local watering holes in the Claredon, VA neighborhood (that’s right, I’m calling a Spinachead outing and we’ll report back to you), or you can cruise with minimal stops while people watching.

Have no fear there is a conductor who will do all the steering for you, he even has an electric backup in case you get distracted (or have one too many) while pedaling. The tour options are not yet published on their website (a route should be planned for the National Mall), but you can follow Trolley Pub’s updates on their website here. We at Spinach appreciate public transportation, such has bike systems, and we also appreciate a good brew – our favorite things combined into one.  This also gets you outdoors, another thing we like.

Consider this the best heads up you’ve gotten on this first day of Spring 2013.  Trolley Pub is booking requests now. We’ll let you know how it is.

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This grandma was told she should be green.

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.”

The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were truly recycled.

But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.

But too bad we didn’t do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?

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This kid has not been to a wedding to do the real electric slide

The news I’m reporting is electric.  It pertains to the trucking industry (I have a thing for big cars that can get the mileage of a Prius (when I studied in Italy I found a diesel Land Rover, it’s not available in the U.S.)).  A new report by the Carbon War Room found that the trucking industry could eliminate 624 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2020, and each truck would save $22,400 annually by retrofitting to electric engines. Now, I’m not a mechanic and I don’t know the full logistics of how the conversion would occur (that’s what YouTube is for), but the article reports that transmission and cruise control upgrades and better tires will play a large role in the reduction of carbon dioxide (I’m not for warming, I like wearing a jacket in the winter).

The most important conclusion of the report is that the financing for the upgrades will be repaid in 18 months!  We often forget that most of the goods we get in this country are trucked and transported from a port or warehouse that can be several states away, especially food (I don’t need pineapples in the dead of winter)!  The trucking industry is a very large sector of economy and the potential for reduction of carbon dioxide is great. EPA started the “SmartWay Partnership” in 2004 to reduce carbon emissions in the trucking industry.

Since it began, the program has amassed nearly 3,000 partners that have benefited from $6.5 billion in fuel savings and reduced 23.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, according to the agency.

Two weeks ago, the City of Chicago announced it received $15 million  from the U.S. Department of Transportation to create an incentive program for the private and public trucking industry to convert to electric vehicles.

Phew Doritos are electric

The program is set to launch in the Spring of 2013 and Chicago will be a national leader of electric fleets on it’s city’s streets. The vouchers will support up to 60% of the conversion costs and roughly 250 vouchers will be issued.

This movement is great; both sides benefit – reduced fuel costs and lower carbon emissions.  This news also comes at a time when Consumer Reports just announced that the Chevy Volt is America’s Most Loved Car. 92% of owners said they would buy the Volt again.  If I had to take a survey, I’d give high remarks to my no-car decision, as I approach year 3.  Do what you can to reduce your footprint – walk, bike, public transport, reduce the weight in your car, make less trips, and carpool.

Have a great week. Cheers.

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Sandy, ya betta shape up

Hurricane Sandy made landfall Monday, October 29, 2012 and for most states in the Northeast the impacts are the worst anyone has ever seen from any weather system.  New Jersey in particular, my home state, barred some of the worst impacts leaving many shore communities underwater and making downtown Atlantic City look like Canal Street in downtown New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina (yes, I said it, minus the looting).  A local New Orleans blogger gave some tips to the Northeast on how to deal with power outages and how to deal with clean up; you can read the humorous post here.

In a nutshell, the storm paralyzed major transportation systems in NYC, DC, and Philadelphia, at least 80 homes burned in a NY neighborhood,  West Virginia mountains had two-three feet of snow, and many beach communities had boardwalks, piers, and storefront properties that were devastated.  Just this morning, a levee breach flooded three communities in northern New Jersey, one of those communities just ten minutes from my family.  My family is ok, but most don’t have power.  There have been 26 U.S. deaths from the storm to date.

It’s good to see that federal and state assistance has been released to a few states for disaster clean up.  Eight counties in NJ have been declared as disaster sites, and the NJ Turnpike is only open at exits 1-10.  The NIEHS, a branch under NIH, offers some of the best emergency response tools for the public and first responders after hurricanes, they can be found here.

The timing is just one week before the national presidential election, and Obama’s response to the storm has been applauded so far.  He has been in engaged in active communication with Northeast governors and mayors.  There’s much that could be said to the severity of the storm and what it says about human induced climate change, but for now I won’t go there.  For now my thoughts are with my family in NJ, the millions without power and damaged homes across the affected states, the safety of the first responders who protect us, and to rebuilding communities affected by the storm. Cheers.

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You may be over Earth Day, but here in spinach land we’re just getting started with our weeklong tribute to Earth Day.  This week we’re highlighting what we think are our planet’s greatest challenges.  I’d like to bring attention to our car-designed cities.  I haven’t owned a car for two years (some people say omg how do you live without a car?!); I find it invigorating.  Not all cities were built around a train or bus system like NY, DC, and a few others.  There are a couple DC food blogs (and perhaps other blog types too) that hype up the so-called NY-DC rivalry.  I’m sure this leaves NY-ers saying, rivalry whaaat? And DC-ers saying oh yeah the DC food scene is very up and coming.  That aside, (as my Northern Jersey roots say there’s no place like NY despite my love for the District) DC takes the cake for showing its love for…the bicycle.

A bicycle tribute to the upcoming Summer Olympics.

Just this week Wmata (Washington’s metro service) announced plans for a pilot bike & ride facility.  I love this concept, Green Light approved.  The pilot facility will be at the University of Maryland’s College Park metro station and will hold up to 100 bikes in a secure room and the cost to the cyclist, ready…2 to 5 cents per hour!  Now that’s a cheap parking garage.  DC also started the famous Capital Bikeshare which NY is starting this summer.  With bikeshare you pick up and pay as you go or have a monthly membership to bicycle all over town as much or as little as you like and then drop off the bike at the closest docking station near you (there’s an app for that).  I hope more cities do bike and ride garages; biking perks are endless – exercise (great way to clear your head), no 4.00/gallon fuel, less road rage, and clean air, it doesn’t get better than that.  So, grab a bike, take a walk, request better public transportation near you, and drive less when you can. Cheers.

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