Category Archives: Environment

5 reasons to bike to work on May 15th

bike-to-work-day-2009For those of you who don’t know, Friday May 15th is National “Bike To Work Day.”  Unfortunately most people won’t ever consider riding a bike to work, which truly is a shame.  So, as a bike commuter for the last three years, I thought that I’d share some of the reasons and benefits of my choice.

If you’re like me you spend the better part of 10 hours a day sitting in front of a computer.  Granted your fingers may be more chiseled than a 19 year old Schwarzenegger the rest of your body basically does nothing all day long.   Add to that a diet of sausage pizza, Chinese takeout, doner kababs, breakfast burritos, donuts, ice cream and the rest… and well you’re not exactly living healthy.  

Each day I ride approximately 3 miles to and from work.  My bike ride to work is downhill and is quite easy whereas my bike ride home is uphill and usually accounts for about a 20 minute  battle.  At first my legs would get sore, now I can race the entire hill.  I feel great when I get home and I physically can notice the difference.  

The kicker in this scenario is that once you get to work on your bike you must return home on your bike so you’re forced to exercise.  By the time I get home, I’m not tire! I feel great and am generally very productive due to a surge in energy.

We all know that when you don’t drive you save gas but there’s also another environmentally friendly result of riding your bike to work and it works exponentially.  When you remove your car from the roads there is one less car congesting the roads.  One car probably won’t make a difference but multiply that by 1000 or even 10,000 and all of a sudden the roads are much less congested.  Less congestion results in less time on the road which ultimately burns less fuel.

This concept is typically not apparent to most people but one of the most energy inefficient activities is traffic.  Thousands of cars waiting, burning oil and not getting to point B.

Vehicle Depreciation
Cars aren’t cheap and everyone always says that they “loose 20% the day they drive off the lot.”  Not only that every year your car depreciates in value.  Think about it, would you pay more for a 2006 car with 20,000 miles or 200,000 miles.  Basically, as you run up the odometer on your car it looses value and biking to work keeps your mileage low, way low.

When I moved to San Diego 3 years ago I had 28,000 miles on my car.  At the time I thought… not to bad for a 2 year old car.  Well, I went to get my oil changed yesterday(5/10/09) and my mileage checked in at 32,221.  So, in three years I have put just over 4,000 miles on my car.  Consider this now, my girlfriend who’s car is two years newer than mine has over 64,000 miles on it and she didn’t drive from Cincinnati to San Diego three times (almost 7,000 miles).

Insurance Savings
This is another very overlooked area of savings when people look to alternative methods for commuting to work.  Granted that getting rid of your car would save you the most money, it is usually not an option for most people.  So, since you’ve decided to keep your car for emergencies and road trips why not get some more savings for your good-willed effort of riding your bike to work.  Call up your insurance and tell them “I’m a good citizen, I’m riding my bike to work.  Can you change my vehicle to a recreational vehicle?”  Also let them know that you now will be driving less than 10,000 miles per year.  This should save you anywhere from 15% to 40% on your insurance.  For instance my insurance dropped from $105/month to $72/month.

Enjoyment of Riding your bike
How many times during your commute to work do you get cut-off, stuck in traffic or  get yelled by another driver?  I’m not a pleasant driver and I constantly was frustrated with my 15 minute commute to work.  I’d always try to rush to get there faster and I would never sit back and relax.  Now that I ride my bike to work I am much more relaxed.  My bike ride goes past Balboa Park, down into the city and through our Little Italy district.  It’s very peaceful and quite calming.  I no longer have the stress associated with driving and it’s really nice.  Not only that, I occasionally take different routes just to see different things.  


So there you have it, 5 reason why riding your bike to work can give you peace of mind and save you money.  Give it a shot, I think you’ll enjoy it!

Damien Howley

Apartment living and recycling

I’ve been living in apartments for my entire California experience, about 4 years now. Apartment living lacks many benefits, I miss having a yard, I can’t stand the limited storage and I find it very challenging to recycle. I think the challenge makes sense really. Space is limited and the recycling bins are 5 stories down on the other side of the parking garage. There is no recycling shoot, only a trash shoot so it’s easier to just say “screw it”.

I’m not saying that I’m the most Eco-friendly citizen but I at least make an effort. I unplug my plasm at night and I’ve installed all energy efficient bulbs thanks to the SDG&E subsidy. I refuse to use my AC but I understand that luxury doesn’t pertain to most places outside of southern California. I also recycle and it’s not too much of a hastle.

To store my recyclables I converted one of my bottom kitchen cupboards into a storage bin. It’s one of those cupboards that is huge, it stretches all the way back behind the oven and is very inaccesible. I lined it with garbage bags for leaks and I basically throw anything that is recyclable in there. I spend about 20 minutes every two months sorting through my recycling stash and another 10 dragging it downstairs. I also keep a brown paper bag by my front door for paper recyclables, especially mail.

My effort is minimal and I’m able to recycle a lot, which I think is more than most other apartment dwellers can say.



Green Idea – Green gift baskets

I’ve had this idea for about 6 months now and funny enough I had a friend call me last week asking if I knew any companies in San Diego that would deliver an “environmentally friendly gift basket.” I snickered at the question and told him the story of how I thought someone could make some money of such an offering.

Well, just to clarify the idea I had was to start a company that delivered eco friendly gift baskets. Everything about the gift basket had to be eco friendly including the items in it, the packaging, the delivery and even the content (books, guides, etc). So what I’m thinking is you get a gift basket with environmentally friendly advice booklets, LED bulbs, recycling guides, my shower timer, a re-usable shopping bag, etc. I’m sure there are hundreds more items that could be included I just haven’t put enough thought towards it.

I suppose, if it has any food, that it should should be organic and free-range. That in itself brings up some random thoughts, I don’t think most people send chicken, beef or pork in a gift basket but you never know. I guess it could be free-range beef jerky!

Well, back to the original thought. I think there is some money to be made selling these green baskets. With today’s huge push to be environmentally friendly it makes sense. I don’t think it is really the contents that matter but rather the teaching or promotion of “thinking green”. For instance my parents live in Chicago and they have never really had to be eco friendly. They’re not awful but they’re not good. If I could send them a green gift basket they might become more aware of their actions. Like I said last week:

What it boils down to is awarness. If you’re not aware of what you consume you will never consciously attempt to reduce it. The same applies for electricity, food, money etc. By making people aware of the water they are consuming they may be much more inclined to reduce their usage.


Green Idea – Shower timer with time and gallons

I’m a fairly environmentally conscious person and I occasionally have ideas that I think would either help the environment or encourage people to treat the environment better.  I’ve had this idea for a while now but I don’t have any time to actually create it and take it to market so I’m offering it up to anyone who’s interested in the hopes that it may come to fruition.  I can’t say that I sincerely think it will but I may as well get my thoughts out there.

Simply put I’d like to create a small timer, much like a cooking timer, that has both time and gallons of water consumed.  The timer would be secured inside a shower or bathtub with a suction clip and would provide someone with a good estimate of how many gallons of water they use for their 20 minute shower, 30 minute shower and so on.

Obviously the gallons of water would be an estimation but I think it would be somewhat close to the actual consumption.  Additionally we could provide a chart or table that outlined a “water consumption guide”.  Something like “20 minute daily shower = 2,500 gallons per month.”

What it boils down to is awarness.  If you’re not aware of what you consume you will never consciously attempt to reduce it.  The same applies for electricity, food, money etc.  By making people aware of the water they are consuming they may be much more inclined to reduce their usage.