Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Top 10 most fuel efficient vehicles for 2014

The latest "Model Year 2014 Fuel Economy Guide" was released on November 19th by the US Department of Energy, listing the fuel efficiency of over 1000 vehicles, including plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

The winner was the Chevy Spark EV, with a 119 mile per gallon (MPG) rating.

Here are the top 10 vehicles based on the combined MPG rating. Vehicles with an asterisk are listed with their MPGe rating. MPGe is used to compare energy consumption of advanced technology vehicles (alternative fuel, plug-in electric, etc) with the fuel economy of conventional internal combustion vehicles expressed as miles per US gallon.

You can also search the fueleconomy.gov website by vehicle type, to find the most fuel efficient vehicle by category (trucks, SUVs, sedans, hatchbacks, vans, etc).


Monday, July 29, 2013

Sustainable Buying and Disposal Decision Guide for Non-Environmentalists

Do you have friends, family or co-workers who have no sense of being sustainable or environmentally-friendly? That can be very frustrating, especially when you have to see the decisions they make on a regular basis. You drop hints and ask questions, but nothing seems to get through to them.

The other frustration is when they dispose of items that could have been recycled on-site, or recycled by taking somewhere else. They look for the nearest trash can, and the item goes off to a magical place, never to be seen again. Ugh!

Even when I make decisions, I don't always choose the best decision for the environment. I might buy something in anticipation of a need, and it turns out I didn't need it after all (microphone for recording audio). Other times, I'll forget to ask to borrow an item for a short-term use (video camera). In other cases, I'm buying products that have packaging that is not recyclable, or I throw something away that I could have taken back home and recycled.

Since my background is in process improvement, I decided to think about what the purchasing and disposal decision process should be, and document it. We've tested it out on a few purchases, and it works really well.



Download the PDF file here and try it out!

The document is broken into two sections: Purchasing an item, and Disposal of an item.

On the purchasing side, the idea is to use existing resources first, before buying anything. Once you've tried all of these options with no luck, then you can evaluate buying something new. The next set of questions evaluate the environmental impact of the item, and the last section focuses on the packaging.


    • Do I really need it, and do I need it right now?
    • Can you borrow or rent the item (item not needed very frequently)?
    • Can you buy it used or refurbished?
    • Are you buying the minimal quantity or amount of this item you possibly can?
    • Is there a compostable or biodegradable option?
    • Is there an option made from recycled content?
    • Is there a sustainably produced option (organic, fair trade, chemical free, or carbon offset)?
    • Is there a local option to minimize transportation distance?
    • Is there a high quality/durable option that will last a long time?
    • Is there a package-free option?
    • Is there a compostable or biodegradable packaging option?
    • Is there a packaging option made from recycled content?

If you've fully evaluated all of the above questions, then you can proceed and make the purchase (hopefully making the best environmental choice)

On the disposal side, the idea is to find as many ways to avoid the landfill, from fixing, donating, and including storing and waiting for the future when it might be recyclable.


    • Can the item be fixed or repaired so it is still useful?
    • Can the item be resold?
    • Can the item be donated to a charity or given to someone?
    • Can the item be repurposed for something else?
    • Can the item be composted or biodegraded?
    • Can the item be recycled locally?
    • Can the item be transported where it can be recycled?
    • Can the item be broken down into smaller pieces that can be recycled?
    • Can the item be stored until a recycling option is made available?
    • Can the item be burned safely to extract the stored energy?

If you've fully evaluated all of the above questions and didn't find another viable solution, then you can proceed and safely dispose of the item in the landfill.

Download the PDF file here >>>

Please share this document with your family, friends and co-workers, to help them make better decisions about buying and disposing of items with the environment in mind.

What do you think? Did we forget some questions?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Key West organic cafe hits the spot

One of the best drives I've ever taken is between Miami and Key West. It takes about 3-4 hours to drive down there, but it's definitely worth it. All you can see is bright blue water on either side of the highway, with many different beaches to stop at along the way.

When we arrived, we wanted to find someplace unique to eat. After we found a place to park, we started walking towards the famous Duval Street, and lucked out by finding Le Petit Paris Organic and Natural Cafe, one of the newest french-themed eateries in town.

Their menu includes organic smoothies, coffees and juices, along with crepes, sandwiches, paninis, salads and omelets (made from cage-free eggs). I ordered the Portabellawich (mushroom panini) and the Very Berrylicious fruit smoothie. They were delicious and very filling, and as always, eating organic makes it even better. The location of the cafe is also ideal, since there is seating outside, so you can do some serious people-watching.

To learn more, visit their website at http://www.lepetitpariskeywest.com

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