Fresh local produce will soon be hitting the farmers markets and grocery stores.  When you buy local, you’re doing a good thing for many reasons:

1.  You’re supporting neighbours and your local economy instead of anonymous, faraway suppliers.

2.  You’re helping build local food production capacity because the more local food people buy, the more farmers will produce.

3.  You’ll know where your food comes from, and can have confidence in higher standards of quality and food safety.

4.  You’ll be doing the environment a favour, because long-distance food has a huge transportation carbon footprint.  One article I’ve read estimates that one third of trucks on the road today are carrying food.  The average item on a typical dinner plate has traveled more than most people travel on vacation!

So, if you’re getting tired of the limited array of local veggies available, take heart: local produce is on the horizon, and it’s a good choice all around!

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Drive two months for free each year

Without investing a penny, most drivers can save 15% on their fuel bill – equivalent to almost two months of free driving a year.

It’s all in how you drive, and here are the two critical habits for savings:

1. accelerate gently – resist that urge to ‘tramp on it’, because that’s when your engine slurps HUGE amounts of fuel.  Then coast as much as possible, and brake gently.

2. limit your speed to 100 KMH or less.  Generally, the slower you go, the more you save.

Here’s proof these two practices work: my Toyota Echo gave me 60 miles per gallon (21 KM/litre) last week, well above the car’s official rating.

For more great fuel-saving tips, visit http://www.ecodriver.org/pages/Fuel-EfficientDriving.php.  And take a 2-minute ride (via YouTube) with the ‘king of hypermiling’: he gets twice his vehicle’s rated fuel mileage!!

Just unplug it!

June 1, 2010

Many appliances in our homes and workplaces use electricity even when they are turned off.  Incredibly, they were designed that way – usually for convenience.  It’s called ‘phantom power’, and dozens of items in a typical home use power 24/365.  The phantom power used in Canada is more than enough to power every home in New Brunswick.

What to do?  Here are three suggestions:

1.  Learn to recognize things that use phantom power: anything with a clock, a remote control, a charger, one of those blocky-looking plugs, or a quick-on feature (IE most televisions).

2. Get into the habit of unplugging items when they are not in use, or use a power bar: when clicked off, it eliminates phantom power.

3.  When buying, choose appliances that use little or no phantom power; look for the ENERGY STAR logo, indicating best-of-class performance.

For more info, check out this great overview of phantom power from the Office of Energy Efficiency.