Article: US states banned from exporting their trash to China are drowning in plastic

US states banned from exporting their trash to China are drowning in plastic

So should I stop buying products that come packaged in plastic?   I thought I was doing the right thing by recycling.  Heck, last year my municipality made it mandatory on my monthly bill (I pay for recycling whether I utilize the service or not).

Rolling Back the Odometer

As I sit here sipping a freshly brewed cup of Irish Blend tea, I wrote my final monthly fare payment check for the year 2012.  I reviewed my statement from the Advantage Vanpool program at KCATA and decided to run the numbers and see if another year of not driving my personal automobile to work was worth it.

The Pros:

My total outlay for 2012 in fares came to $1,686.  It should have been less, but 7/12 of this year the van had five riders instead of six, so the fare increased slightly those months.  I hope next year the van will remain fully occupied so I can look forward to only spending $1,536 annually on my work commute.  Either way, I’m sure I did better than most people who live in Leavenworth or Lansing and work in Kansas City.  Most of them probably have car payments (I don’t), higher insurance rates (not needed since I don’t drive my personal automobiles much), routine maintenance (oil, tires, etc.) and fuel costs.

By participating in the vanpool this year, I did NOT put 15,000 miles on my personal automobile.

Had I driven myself to work, alone, in either of my cars (which both require premium grade gasoline), I would have spent a minimum of $2,000.00 on fuel alone (visit AAA’s Fuel Guage Report site for my tidbits about the cost of gasoline).  My insurance would have risen to reflect the additional risk of subjecting myself to rush hour traffic.  I would have had to change my oil at least twice, possibly three times (this is a matter of debate in our household because we use only expensive synthetic oil and filters which are supposed to allow you to change your oil less frequently).  I wouldn’t have had to buy new tires, since we did that last year, but I would have used up a significant portion of the tread life of said tires.

The Cons:

I only have a couple of negatives, and I consider them small ones compared to the overwhelming positives I experience from the vanpool.  The most obvious one happens to be the extended commute time.  On average I spend an extra thirty minutes per day in the van as opposed to what I would spend if I drove myself.  Totaled for the year, that comes to 120 hours or about five days.

Driving daily, instead of riding, comes in as my second downside.  When I joined the vanpool a couple of years ago, I didn’t mind the extra time, because I could read, listen to music or just plain sleep while someone else got me to work and dealt with all the stressful traffic or inclement weather.  For the last year (14 months actually), I’ve been the primary driver for the vanpool.  I am thankful, though, that weather, thanks to the worst drought in decades, has been a non-entity until very recently (see companion post at the van’s blog).

Rolling Forward

Despite these slight bumps on the road to transportation redemption, I look forward to many more months, dare I say years, of smooth driving and my quest to preserve the planet … one van at a time.

The Great Thermostat Debate

After reading Modesitt’s blog post today, editorializing about the fragility of our infrastructure, I got to thinking about something that bothers me every time I return home … my thermostat setting.

I take (and give) a lot of grief about it.  I’m accused of many things, most of them not repeatable.  I try to shrug it off and go on with my life. I’ll spare you the sordid details now (especially since this weekend is Valentine’s Day and if I want to celebrate, I’d best restrain myself).

So, back to Mr. Modesitt’s blog, specifically this excerpt from the second paragraph:

In fact, we turn the heat down from 65 degrees to 50 at night, and the house didn’t even cool fifteen degrees that night.  But then, we have a well-insulated house, and the starting temperature was 65 degrees.

Wow, I’m impressed.  I would love to set my thermostat on 65 and just leave it there, rather than it’s current much higher setting.

So, I’m coming to you, my loyal handful of readers, to poll you for your winter thermostat setting.  The results, perhaps, will ease my peace of mind.

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