Most of us aren’t exactly sure what our fuel mileage is – and that makes it hard to tell if changes to our driving habits are yielding results. Here’s an easy way to save 10-20% on your monthly gas bill:

1. the next time you fill up, make note of your odometer reading. A glovebox notebook is best, but a slip of paper works too. For your next fill-up after that, note the odometer reading and the amount of fuel you bought. Then divide the distance you drove since the last fill-up by the amount of fuel it took to fill your tank, and you have your ‘benchmark mileage’, be it kilometers per liter or miles per gallon.

2. practice this one easy habit: drive as if you have an egg taped under the toe of your right foot, and your aim is to get where you’re going without breaking the egg. Gentle on the gas, gentle on the brake, maximum coasting.

3. repeat step one to get your new mileage. If you’re a typical driver, you’ll see a 10-20% savings – just like that!

You can see your vehicle’s official rating here http://www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca/transportation/tools/fuelratings/ratings-search.cfm?attr=8 (Canada) or here http://www.fueleconomy.gov/ (US).

In the news

This week US President Obama announced aggressive new fuel economy standards for new vehicles that are projected to save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the next five years. Good for the wallet, good for energy independence, good for the planet! http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601170&refer=home&sid=aKUXiuTCkyhw

Ontario has passed its Green Energy Act, committing that province to becoming a leader in renewable energy. http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/May2009/14/c4084.html

If you are in the US, please call your Congressman or Congresswoman to support passage of the Waxman/Markey Clean Energy and Security Act (http://energycommerce.house.gov/) – it’s a critical step to progress against climate change.

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Not all recycled paper is created equal: different words, different percentages and different certifications make buying paper a lot more complicated than it used to be. But here’s a bit of clarity.

Paper made from Post-Consumer Waste is made from honest-to-goodness recycled paper: material that has gone through one consumer cycle, been collected via recycling centers or blue boxes, and re-processed into new paper. The percentage of Post Consumer Waste in paper varies, but if you find a product that’s 100% Post-Consumer Waste, you’ve got the best – because it’s made of material diverted (rescued?) from the landfill.

Paper made from Pre-Consumer Waste is made from scrap paper that never made it to the consumer: trimmings from print shops and newspapers, surplus copies printed, etc. Paper made from Pre-Consumer Waste is better than paper made from virgin pulp, but not as good as paper made from Post-Consumer Waste.

And since most paper available is not 100% recycled, look for an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council – http://www.fsccanada.org) or Green Seal (www.greenseal.org) logo that certifies that the non-recycled portion of the paper comes from sustainably managed forests.

In the news

Ontario’s first annual 50 Million Tree Weekend (http://www.treesontario.ca/news/index.php/50_million_tree_weekend) happens this Friday and Saturday: ordinary citizens are being challenged to plant trees in support of the United Nations’ Billion Tree Campaign (http://www.unep.org/billiontreecampaign/).

Trees play a vital role in the world’s carbon cycle, and this is the perfect time of year to plant them. Learn more here: http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/rss/article/655623