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Audi Ad Ticks Greenies Off

Check out this Audi ad for their new diesel-powered car (thanks to ecorazzi for posting and bringing this to my attention!).

30% fewer emissions than what… a bike? The bus? The vege oil car? Even the annoying guy on the footpath? (He really shouldn’t be riding there, and I would get serious pedestrian rage if he was telling me to get out of the way, but that’s beside the point.)

The point? I don’t think the new Audi has 30% fewer emissions than any of those. Maybe it has 30% fewer emissions than a regular petrol car.

Audi, is your target audience the greenies, or just the light-green greenies who wanna look like they’re doing the right thing without having to actually go to any effort?* Or maybe it’s the people who are sick of paying huge petrol prices. What are you really going for?

Cos I think you just pissed a lot of people off.

*I probably just pissed a bunch of people off too, cos that was pretty cynical. Oops, I’m sick, my brain-mouth/typing fingers filter is gone.

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Cycling: The Way of the Future?

The Netherlands is the land of dikes dykes bikes. The land is flat, and huge numbers of the population use bikes to get around. Check out this article, written by someone in Amsterdam at the moment. There are just bikes everywhere. The author wonders if this is the way of the future. It looks like an incredible future to me. Huge, free bike parking lots, filled to bursting.

Bikes in Amsterdam (photo by Annalee Newitz).

Bikes in Amsterdam (photo by Annalee Newitz).

We have a bike station in Brisbane, in the city, but I don’t know how well used it is. The website says 420 cyclists use it daily. I do see plenty of cyclists taking their chances amongst the cars and buses, and zipping along the bikeway by the river. Not like in The Netherlands though. (Incidentally, lots of the commenters on the original article talk about how in some places it’s too hot to cycle everywhere. That’s why you have showers in the bike stations, like we do in Brisbane. Duh.)

I really like the idea of a city full of bikes… if only I could ride one without falling off.

I can only go in a straight line on flat ground. If I’m having a good day, I can make a really wide turn. That’s pretty much the limit of my ability. I think part of it is the type of bike I’ve been riding. I used to do ok on the bike I had when I was 12. It was an old, classic kind of bike. No cross-bar (a lady’s bike for the dyke, thanks!), upright handlebars so I didn’t have to lean so far over to ride it. Sitting up works better for me. I notice that lots of the bikes in the picture in the Amsterdam article have handlebars like that too. My bike woes really started when I got too tall for my classic bike and Dad bought be one that was on sale… it was a pink (!!) cross-trainer with the skinniest tyres in the history of the modern Earth. The falling began. Yankee Elv’s mountain bike isn’t much better, it’s one of the ‘bend yourself in half to reach the handlebars’ type.

I can’t scooter, skateboard, roller skate, roller blade or ice skate either. Balance is not my forte.

So far, I’ve stuck to walking… but as the bikes zip past me on the bikeway, I wonder if I should give it a try again. They all make it look so easy and fast. I could try a classic bike, like these ones. Or maybe an adult trike?

Does anyone else cycle regularly? How do you find it?

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1

The Elves in Melbourne!

I had to go to Melbourne for work on Monday, so I booked a flight for Yankee Elv and we went down a day early to take in the city. It was a good way to amalgamate travel costs and reduce emissions. We flew carbon neutral, which was surprisingly cheap, only $3.08 per flight, which is about a third of a tonne of emissions. It’s the first time Yankee Elv has been there, so it was fun!

So what kind of ELV-esque stuff did we see?

The Queen Victoria markets have a really big open-air section for fruit and veg, and one whole big aisle of it is for organic food. It was huge and pretty cool. If we lived in Melbourne we’d definitely shop there. In contrast, the West End markets up here have only a few organic stalls and they all cost a fortune. The ones in the Queen Victoria markets were fairly reasonably priced. Yankee Elv bought an orange for breakfast the next day.

The organics aisle at the Queen Victoria markets.

The organics aisle at the Queen Victoria markets.

Melbourne is known for it’s cafe culture, so we tried out a place I’d never seen before – Hudsons Coffee. It looked like a one-off sort of place, but once I got inside and started ordering, I realised it was some kind of franchise, not dissimilar to Starbucks (with better atmosphere), which was a bit disappointing. It was cosy and warm in there though, and we’d already paid for drinks, so we stayed. I couldn’t figure out why they served our drinks in paper cups and our food in paper bags, rather than using crockery since we were eating in the cafe. Weird – and wasteful.

Disposable junk at Hudsons.

Disposable junk at Hudsons.

Speaking of cosy and warm, Melbourne is cold, and apparently even the locals agree. Why else would you see restaurants with signs advertising heated couches? I wonder how much energy that wastes…

Heated couches!

Heated couches!

Public transport is pretty good in Melbourne, and a fair number of people ride bikes… probably about the same as Brisbane.

Trams and cycling and horses, oh my!

Trams and cycling and horses, oh my!

I’m not sure how I feel about the use of electric trams. I think they’re better than diesel or even natural gas buses (are they? fossil fuels still go towards the production of electricity), but the wires look ugly and they make the road rules weird! Plus, they scare the horses.

The trams scared the poor horses. Horses shouldn't be in the city anyway!

The trams scared the poor horses. Horses shouldn't be in the city anyway!

When I was working on Monday, Yankee Elv checked out this little veg*n fast food place called Lord of the Fries, right on the corner of Flinders St and Elizabeth St. She loved it – apparently the nuggets were particularly awesome. I like that there’s a veg*n food venue in such a populated place. It always seemed to have plenty of customers. I wonder if that’s because they don’t seem to advertise too much that they’re veg. When I was first in Melbourne and looking for a place to eat, I didn’t realise they were veg and I asked if they had any vege burgers. Needless to say, they looked at me a bit weirdly. At the time I felt like Indian though, so I didn’t get anything from there. I will next time though!

Veg*n fast food, Lord of the Fries.

Veg*n fast food, Lord of the Fries.

And of course, no trip to Melbourne is complete with a stop at Taco Bill for dinner. Be warned though – although they make the most awesome chocolate mousse ever in the entire universe (that I’ve tasted), it’s not vegan (just vegetarian). I’m not an official convert yet.

Taco Bill and me.

Taco Bill and me.

Tell me about your favourite ELV-ish place in Melbourne!

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Reuse: Green Bags

Ok guys – this post is kind of a continuation of yesterday’s post on reducing plastic bag use. Yes, I know it’s lame and unoriginal, but when this post appears on the blog, I’ll be in Perth for work so I’ve had to write some posts ahead of time. This is the last one left, it’s nearly midnight at my flight leaves in less than 8 hours.

So seriously… let’s reuse our green bags.

Reusable green bag from HEB in Texas (we used to shop there... cos there was nowhere else to shop)

Reusable green bag from HEB in Texas (we used to shop there... cos there was nowhere else to shop)

Why? Cos it’s, you know, the right thing to do. See yesterday’s post for more detail on the why. Today, I’m more interested in the how. That is, how do you remember to bring them to the shop!?

The grocery stores have taken to putting up signs reminding us that green bags only work if you remember to bring them. The only thing that does is make me feel guilty that I’ve forgotten. A sign at the shop is a bit too little, too late, you know what I mean? As I mentioned yesterday though, before we switched to a mini-rubbish bin, I used to use way fewer plastic bags, and thus used green shopping bags all the time. I had some secret ways of remembering to bring them.

  1. Have quite a lot of bags so you can have bags in different places.
  2. Keep a bag in your work bag/backpack for emergency shopping on the way home from work. You only need one, as you don’t normally buy much on the way home from work when you have to carry things on the bus.
  3. Keep some bags in your car boot – we normally take the car when we’re going shopping for lots of stuff.
  4. Keep some bags inside the house in case you want to walk to the shops. Keep them out of reach of naughty cats who pee on things. Trust me on this one. Don’t think the top of the fridge is safe, either.
  5. Have spare bags so you can keep on using them while you’re mending the older bags that start ripping.
  6. Have at least one insulated bag so your cold stuff stays cold while you’re walking home from the shops – this is most important in hotter climates like Queensland. Yes, I know we’re not the ones having a heatwave this summer (sorry Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney), but normally it’s hotter up here. We also have an insulated backpack, which works better if you’re cycling, scootering or skating to the shop.
  7. Put your bags back where they go as part of your grocery-putting-away routine. For example, after a big shop, gather the bags up and put them back in the boot of the car. Otherwise, you’ll get to the shop next time and realise you left them on the kitchen bench. That sucks. Once it’s part of your routine it will seem normal.
  8. It’s ok to buy the odd new green bag, but don’t go crazy. That’s emergency times only, and only if you’re a bit low on green bags at home.
  9. You can use any old bag, not just a green bag, if your groceries will fit. I’ve carried lots of stuff home in my laptop backpack before. It also makes it easier to carry on the bus.
  10. Enlist other people to help you remember and help you put the bags away as part of your routine. If you’re too lazy tired old busy doing incredibly important things, you can always have the kids do it. 😉

How do you remember your green bags?

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4

Reduce: Boredom on the bus

I was going to write about reducing your carbon emissions and costs when keeping cool in summer. Instead, I’m writing about reducing boredom on the bus.

Why?

Cos today I decided to reduce my stress levels by having a couple of drinks with a colleague, who is also a friend, after work. So I’m not sure that I’m quite up to a serious post requiring a bit of research… hence, boredom on the bus! The topic came to me on the bus ride home, strangely enough.

Also, my wrist hurts. Not sure what I’ve done to it. Must minimise typing requirements.

So: first up, why the bus?
Well, here’s my little transport pyramid. I made it myself. Just now.

Aussie Elv's Transport Pyramid

Aussie Elv's Transport Pyramid

It has five sections – the bigger the section (towards the bottom), the more you should use that type of transport.

People Power
This type of transportation includes walking, running, jumping, somersaulting, hopping, swimming or any other transport that involves your body and no equipment to get you from one place to another.

Move it Yourself
This type of transportation includes unicycling, bicycling, scootering, skateboarding, surfing, rollerblading, sailing or any other transport than involves a piece of equipment, by which you are propelled using your own kinetic energy (muscles) or sustainable energy (wind or solar).

Let’s get Together
This type of transportation includes bus, train, light rail, tram, ferry, city cat – any transport that is accessed publicly and transports reasonably large numbers of people, and is typically powered by fossil fuels or renewable energy. This could be electricity (possibly produced sustainably), gas (including natural), diesel or petrol.

Mini-me Vehicles
This type of transportation includes motorbikes, motor scooters, hybrid cars – any private transport that runs on either a small amount of fossil fuels or uses a combination of fossil fuels and electricity, possibly sustainable. (For more about sustainable cars, see my review of the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?)

Hummers and Friends
This type of transportation includes cars, utes, trucks, camper vans – any private transport that runs on fossil fuels. Note – carpooling reduces the severity of this one. If enough people are in the car, it might reduce it down a level or two. (I don’t drive, so I can honestly say I’ve never been in a car and not carpooled).

What do you think of my pyramid?

So back to reducing boredom on the bus.

I take the bus because I live too far from work to walk or ride (I might be able to ride, but I’d be to buggered to work by the time I get there). I could catch the train, but the bus is more convenient. It’s not a long bus ride, and I change buses in the city to get to my workplace in one of the inner suburbs. But I gotta tell ya – the bus can be friend or foe.

Ways I make the bus my friend (aka – beat boredom on the bus):

  • Sleep/nap/snooze – you’re there before you know it (this is the most common thing I do)
  • Read books about sustainability, low impact living, veganism, or the latest celesbians (we all have our vices)
  • Knit or crochet (I don’t do this cos I am the slowest knitter in the world and I’d knit one row before I got there, but I watch another lady do it every day, she’s very good and fast)
  • Prep yourself mentally for work (this is my least favourite)
  • Talk or text on the phone
  • Look out the window at all the pretty trees in bloom (it’s summer here)
  • Discreetly people watch (remember, public transport takes away physical and auditory privacy, so it’s unspoken etiquette to give other passengers visual privacy – to a point)
  • Count your fingers (this one is for when you’re still half asleep)
  • Plan your dream eco-home (mine includes strawbale construction and lots of mango and frangipani trees)
  • If you have a signing friend, sign and watch the other passengers try to not look at you
  • Discreetly read people’s lips if you can
  • Make up stories in your head about the other people
  • Do a crossword or play sudoku
  • Listen to music (I don’t do this, but lots of other people do, which gives them auditory privacy)
  • Read a free newspaper
  • Make a friend and chat (I have bus buddies, which is cool as they all live in my neighbourhood so I see them around home too).

What do you do to reduce boredom on the bus?

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