Sigrid Wright has 20 years of experience in non-profit environmental management, and has been with the Community Environmental Council since 1995. She oversees CEC’s public outreach and fundraising teams -- managing events, such as the annual Earth Day Festival, as well as electronic media, marketing, and publications.
Written by Sigrid Wright on Wednesday, 14 August 2013.
Recently in Not Your Father’s Carpool Part 1, CEC reported on new findings by U.S. Pirg indicating that young people are buying fewer new cars and driving less – demanding a new American Dream that is less dependent on the one-car-per-person model.
Coupled with this is another trend: the rapid development of social media and mobile technology that make it easier for people to connect directly with someone who has something they need.
“I keep hearing people say we need to keep the economy going,” says Eric Lohela, a City of Santa Barbara employee and CEC Partnership Council co-chair. “For me one way to do that is to pay for the things you need when you need them. I don’t think buying millions of cars that sit around depreciating is a good investment. I don’t think that making GM profitable is the next economy. Our next economy needs financial flexibility, where money keeps moving. It’s about services more than about products.”
Eric – who lives downtown within walking and biking distance of most of the places he frequents – found he was putting less than 100 miles a month on his 2007 Toyota Prius, but was reluctant to sell it. He wanted to see his car – the largest investment of capital that many people will make outside of a home purchase – do something in its down time. He tried various informal car-sharing arrangements with friends, and then began officially renting his car through a new peer-to-peer car rental service, Relay Rides.
Relay Rides – like an Airbnb service for cars – allows owners to rent directly to interested drivers who pass the company’s background check. “I like Relay Rides because it gives exceptional control to the owner of the car,” Eric says. “I set the rate, I set the mileage allowance. I indicate when the car is or is not available, and I can change that at any time. When someone requests to rent from me, I see their driver’s license, get their cell phone number, and can even see if we have any mutual friends on Facebook. I can meet them and give them the keys directly, or if they’re a repeat renter and I trust them, I can keep it simple and use a lock box.”
Relay Rides also provides $1 million insurance coverage on each rental, and handles the payment process between owner and renter, taking a 25 percent cut for providing the service. Eric has earned close to $1,000 by renting his Prius, and has “met a bunch of people I wouldn’t have otherwise met,” including a guy who commutes entirely by bike and doesn’t own a car, another guy who has a scooter but occasionally needs to go to LA., and a woman whose car was in an accident and who wanted to drive a Prius while she considered her next purchase.
Perhaps not surprisingly, car-sharing first gained popularity on college campuses, where an innovative spirit is coupled with need – such as parking shortages, or the cost of owning a car on a student budget.
“Campuses are on the bleeding edge of the early adoption of technology,” said Jamey Wagner, Program Manager of the Transportation Alternatives Program at UCSB. “They are like little cities. At UCSB we have approximately 4,500 faculty and staff and another 20,000 students -- that’s a large pool of potential drivers, day and night. And most of them are tech savvy.”
UCSB was the first campus in the UC system to put in place a car-sharing program, which over the last decade has matured into a small fleet of rent-by-the-hour cars now serviced by Zipcar. Unlike Relay Rides, which arranges a peer-to-peer car rental, Zipcar provides short-term rental services from a fleet of company cars.
“This helps those who can’t afford a car or don’t want to bring one on campus. For $7.50 an hour, you can go to a doctor’s appointment, help a friend move, even make a late night food run,” said Wagner.
He notes that Zipcar lowered the minimum rental age from 24 to 18 years old, which may help Zipcar’s automaker partners build brand loyalty among future car owners. This may be a necessity, as recent reports show that the percentage of new cars purchased by people age 21 to 34 is dropping – from 38 percent of all new cars in 1985, to 27 percent in 2010, the Atlantic reported. In fact, another survey indicates that 30 percent of people ages 18 to 34 say they would rather give up a car than give up their mobile phone or laptop.
Having easy access to a rental car helped Arjun Sarkar, Alternative Fuels Coordinator at UCSB, in his goal to avoid adding a car when his two teen boys came of driving age. “We did a total role reversal, and one of the family cars became the primary car for my son. I became a multi-modal commuter, getting to my job on campus by bus or carpool, and then using the campus Zipcar once or twice a week when I needed to leave during the day.”
“The first two or three weeks were the hardest, in terms of letting go of having my car at my disposal all the time. It got easier as I got familiar with the system, often booking from Zipcar the day or sometimes the hour I needed it. I realized I could get a car really quickly if I had an emergency.”
Written by Sigrid Wright on Tuesday, 04 June 2013.
When 18-year-old Lauren Mok leaves her apartment in Isla Vista for classes across town at Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) and uses an iPhone app to offer a ride to a student she doesn’t know, she occasionally reflects on something a professor recently said:
We’re in the middle of a social revolution, where technology is changing the way we do everything. Even, it seems, activities as mundane as driving.
Mok is part of a pilot program using a new mobile application that matches carpoolers in real time: SmartRide (www.SmartRide.org). The program aims to tap into the river of cars driving between SBCC and Isla Vista – a corridor where bus ridership has increased so much in recent years that buses often exceed capacity and students are forced to wait for the next one.
Using the app, car owners and riders create a profile and log in when they want to offer a ride, or catch one. They can schedule ahead, or can find someone who is ready to go, sorted by location. They see each other’s photo and how they’ve been rated by other users, and then text or call to arrange where to meet up. After the ride, both drivers and riders can rate each other and leave comments, which helps add to a sense of safety and community. The system also facilitates an electronic payment based on mileage.
This is the next generation of carsharing and ridesharing, which is evolving beyond the familiar pre-arranged vanpool into a realm that is more instantaneous and free-flowing – and that even rethinks traditional car ownership. Heading to the Santa Barbara Bowl for a concert and want to avoid parking hassles by catching a ride on the fly? There’s an app for that. Want to rent a car just for an hour or two? Someone has that figured out, too. There’s even a well-established network of services designed for visitors who want to travel to Santa Barbara car-free.
“Carpooling is the easiest way to effectively double the mpg of any car. It’s the fastest, cheapest way to cut down on congestion and pollution, as there are people driving everywhere, but usually with just a driver and four empty seats,” said Michael Chiacos, Transportation Manager at the Community Environmental Council, which has partnered with Traffic Solutions to run the SmartRide program.
In truth, this evolution away from the one-car-per-person model has been underway for a while. In a few larger cities, commuters pick up passengers from a group of strangers on the side of the road to help share a toll booth fee or to meet a required minimum before entering a high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane – a practice called “casual carpooling” or “slugging.”
What’s new, however, is an explosion of tools and services that allow the user more flexibility and control. In recent years, the internet has made it easier to match riders and drivers – both through formal services (like one managed by the countywide Traffic Solutions) and informal services (like posting on Craigslist to catch a ride to the Bay Area). One popular on-demand ridesharing program, Zimride, was co-founded by UCSBalum Logan Green and has since become a national service is helping users share 100 million miles per year.
Over the next month, CEC will be showcasing some of these services -- the market’s response, in part, to the fact that fewer young people are buying new cars or even driving. According to recent reports, fewer teens and 20-somethings are getting their license, fewer adults between the ages of 21 and 34 are buying cars and that age group is driving 23% fewer miles. In fact, Americans in general are driving fewer total miles today than they were eight years ago.
In fact, according to a new report released this month by U.S. Pirg, “The unique combina-tion of conditions that fueled the Driving Boom — from cheap gas prices to the rapid expansion of the workforce during the Baby Boom generation — no longer exists. Meanwhile, a new generation — the Mil¬lennials — is demanding a new American Dream less dependent on driving.”
So what’s the best way to respond to this changing market? “Rather than using scarce transportation dollars to build new roads or buy new buses,” says CEC’s Michael Chiacos, “we can make the existing system more efficient by using something that many people already have – a smart phone”
Written by Sigrid Wright on Wednesday, 17 April 2013.
Five years after launching the Green Shorts Film Festival, CEC and Traffic Solutions are coordinating a final commemorative of the festival’s top films, which will be featured at this week’s Earth Day Opening Night Party Wednesday, April 17 from 6 to 10 p.m. at Oreana Winery.
“There are so many great movies that a lot of people haven’t been able to see, and we wanted to show the best before bringing the film festival to a close,” explained Kent Epperson, Traffic Solutions Director and lead coordinator of Green Shorts.
The film festival and video contest were created to encourage local amateur filmmakers to focus on the environment, each year centering on a theme that related to CEC’s Earth Day Festival, such as “Bringing it Home,” “Powered by the People,” and “Mobilize for the Earth.”
With such a relatively small community, it was difficult to find strong content to continue developing new movies each year, and Traffic Solutions was forced to allocate their resources to other projects. That said, the 25 to 30 films that will be showcased this week reflect how influential art and storytelling can be. “Little actions go a long way, and individuals can make daily decisions that change the world,” says Kent.
“The filmmakers and production teams are influenced by the movies they create,” he said, “and the audience is often touched by the films and motivated to change their behavior as a result.” In addition to the screening events that took place over the last four years, several of the short films found a broader audience, being promoted online via websites, additional events, and public access television. For example, CEC commissioned Erin Feinblatt’s Pointless Plastic for its Rethink the Drink campaign, and Seinn Schlidt’s short film Ride was accepted into the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
Kent also credits the project with helping to create a sense of community. “It wouldn’t have happened without individuals passionate about a particular topic and the numerous hours it takes to create a 2-minute piece,” he said. He fondly remembers looking into the audience and seeing new faces that wouldn’t otherwise have established a relationship and connection with Traffic Solutions, but were able to “meet through the minds of creativity.”
Written by Sigrid Wright on Wednesday, 06 June 2012.
The community we want to live in is centered on people instead of cars. In fact, walkable, bikable communities are part of CEC’s vision to wean our region off of fossil fuels in one generation. CEC Assistant Director Sigrid Wright, who is the Sustainability Editor for Seasons Magazine, recently wrote about Bike Moves, an eclectic community of bike enthusiasts in Santa Barbara. These monthly bike rides offer a fun and free way to enjoy biking in town with friends and fellow cyclists.
A 30-something man rides his bike down State Street dressed as Bill Nye, the Science Guy. Decked in a short-sleeved dress shirt with his hair slicked back, he pulls a tag-along, from which a makeshift stereo blasts music. His wheels spin with neon green lights as he joins hundreds of other bicyclists dressed in similarly outrageous gear.
This is Bike Moves.
Coinciding with downtown Santa Barbara's 1st Thursday celebration, Bike Moves is a monthly almost-leaderless gathering of bicyclists: everyday commuters, hardcore cyclists, casual riders, parents, kids.
The idea, says one rider, is to "shift the culture by taking something that people might think of as threatening—like hundreds of bicyclists—and creating something whimsical and fun.
Each month, Bike Moves centers around a theme, often tied to a holiday (Night of the Riding Dead for Halloween), a movie (Lord of the Chain Rings) or a cultural motif (Bill Nye, the Science Ride). The month when Empire Bikes Back was the theme, Darth Vaders and storm troopers took over the streets, and those who had light sabers stopped to duel.
"The best themes can be loosely interpreted, with costumes pulled together from a thrift store," says Kent Epperson, coordinator of CycleMAYnia, a month-long celebration of bicycling. "One of my favorites was Shotgun Wedding. The idea of a bunch of people dressed in wedding outfits on bicycles was just so over the top."
Unlike in other communities that host regular Critical Mass rides to advocate for bicycle rights—such as San Francisco and Portland—the confrontational reputation of Critical Mass doesn't fit with Santa Barbara's style, says co-founder John Hygelund. "From the beginning, our goal has been to be part of the community, having a good time but following the rules of the road. We don't want to create a situation where we're riding through red lights and aggravating motorists." Instead, Bike Moves focuses on creating a bike culture in Santa Barbara and being "fun and welcoming to new people," says Hygelund.
While some riders are athletic, "Bike Moves itself isn't an athletic event. You ride a mile or so, have fun, cruise around. For people who don't bike much, this might get them going. Maybe they'll start biking to a friend's house or to work once a week."
Riders start at a downtown location every 1st Thursday at 7:30 p.m., head up Santa Barbara Street to Arlington Theatre, loop back down State Street and end up at the pier. Here everyone circles up for Bicycle Sumo, a light-hearted agility contest in which pairs of volunteers ride in tight circles around each other.
While it is free to participate in the ride, many of the events end in some prearranged occasion, such as a fashion show or fundraiser at a restaurant or bar. Over the last couple of years, Bike Moves has raised about $7,500 for projects like purchasing new tools to maintain mountain bike trails, reaching out to Spanish-speaking riders and helping offset a bicycle coach's medical fees when he was hit by a car.
"Bike Moves is one of my favorite parts of the month, and something I do to feel connected with the community," says Epperson. "While we live in a relatively bicycle-friendly city, the reality is that bicyclists tend to feel a little exposed and on their own sometimes.....with Bike Moves, you feel like you belong. Everyone belongs. Also, cycling tends to be destination oriented—you have to get to work or to school, or you're training for a race. With Bike Moves, there's no agenda, no destination, no rules other than the rules of the road and being courteous."
Hygelund, a mechanical engineer, agrees with the community-building aspect of the event. He introduced the concept to Santa Barbara after experiencing something similar in San Luis Obispo, as a student at Cal Poly, and sets the themes each month. "Because of Bike Moves, I've become a lot more involved. I joined the board of Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition and volunteer to help maintain mountain bike trails. I feel more connected."
Part of what helps create that spirit is that all cross-segments of Santa Barbara participate. While Bike Moves is particularly popular with the 25 to 35 age group—in part because the event is largely advertised through Facebook and other social media—participants range from children under 10 years old to riders in their 60s and 70s. "I've brought my mom a few times," says Hygelund. "I don't think it's intimidating. One month the theme was Twins, and she dressed as a double helix."
He continues, "I'm always amazed during the ride how many fun and new people I meet. Everyone's got a smile on their face and is genuinely enjoying something totally free. Our only common thread is our bikes."
For more information about Bike Moves, visit www.sbbikemoves.com.
Written by Sigrid Wright on Wednesday, 21 March 2012.
"What I love about Earth Day today is that it has become an enormous exchange of information and ideas about how to preserve, protect and enhance the quality of life in Santa Barbara and by extension, the world. It's fun, educational and an aesthetic experience all rolled into one. How many events do you go to where 38,000 people gather to learn from one another? Earth Day gives me a sense of joy and hope each and every year."
- Paul Relis, former CEC Executive Director
The oil spill
To understand how Santa Barbara became the home of the one of the most highly attended, most consistently held community-based Earth Day festivals on the West Coast, one needs to go back to first Earth Day celebration in 1970.
Or rather, a year before that -- because the story of this annual celebration actually started with a tragedy. On January 28, 1969, an oil platform six miles off of Santa Barbara's coast ruptured, sending 80,000 to 100,000 barrels of crude oil into the Santa Barbara Channel over the next 10 days. The oil spread from Goleta to Ventura, killing thousands of sea birds, as well as dolphins, elephant seals, and sea lions.
"It's hard to imagine today, but at the time it was the largest oil spill in the U.S.," said Marc McGinnes, retired UCSB Environmental Studies Program professor. (Today the Santa Barbara spill ranks third behind the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf in 2010 and the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989.) "What we now know as the environmental movement was just emerging. It was events like this and fires burning on the Cuyahoga River that got people's attention."
Over the next few years, the Nixon Administration would respond by putting into place the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and national legislation. Locally, on the first anniversary of the oil spill, activists hosted a national conference at Santa Barbara City College, with speakers that included notable environmentalists Paul Ehrlich and David Brower, political leaders Sen. Alan Cranston, Rep. Pete McCloskey and former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, as well as Denis Hayes, coordinator of the first Earth Day observances planned for later that year.
The ripples of that conference – in which the community began to channel its outrage, concern, and hopes for a better future – can still be felt today. One of these was the formation of the Community Environmental Council (CEC), whose first order of business was to open an ecology center on the corner of State and Anapamu, close down the street out front, and host one of the first Earth Day celebrations in the country on April 22, 1970.
The Earth Day Festival was born
"The festival itself was modest, with maybe 5,000 people. But when taken collectively, it turned out to be the world's largest event – cities everywhere participated that day," said former CEC Executive Director Paul Relis, who co-directed the organization in its early years with former Santa Barbara mayor Hal Conklin.
The annual event continued on and off thru the 1970s, waned in the 1980s, and then was revitalized in 1990 when Denis Hayes called for a recommitment to a national day of recognition for the environment. Karen Feeney led an effort to re-spark the gathering with a 20th anniversary bash at Santa Barbara City College, and Earth Day has been held consistently and with increasing attendance by the CEC since then.
Today's Earth Day Festival
Today the Earth Day Festival is a two-day event at Alameda Park, with more than 250 local and national exhibitors, a Green Car Show, live music, and speakers that have recently included director James Cameron, actress Daryl Hannah, and Tesla Motorcars CEO Elon Musk. With more that 38,000 people attending in 2011, it logs as the most well-attended annual Earth Day Festival on the West Coast.
For more informtaion on CEC's Earth Day Festival visit: www.SBEarthDay.org
Written by Sigrid Wright on Wednesday, 30 November 2011.
Isabelle Greene could not have escaped her destiny even if she’d wanted to: it was built right into her family name. Growing up in the wilder, more open-space version of Pasadena and the granddaughter of the notable Arts and Crafts architect Henry Greene, she was exposed early on to both the built environment and the natural world. Today, at the age of 78, she is an energetic champion of “sustainable landscape architecture,” and continues to manage her private practice of 30 years.
But in 2004, Green took on her biggest challenge – renovating a 1948 mail order cottage in the neighborhood behind the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. After decades of creating beautiful spaces for other people, her goal was to design a home for herself.
When she purchased the 1,100 square foot house, it was a warren of small, dark rooms with limited windows and closets. The roof had no eaves – exposing the wood to weather -- and the house had sunk six inches in one corner. But she was taken with the neighborhood, was ready to “be out of cement and traffic and noise,” and had long dreamed of the challenge of renovating a house and imprinting it with her own style.
Greene had traveled extensively to places like Holland, Norway, and Japan, where small living spaces made a deep impression on her with their highly functional, elegant, streamlined simplicity.
“I’ve always been so uncomfortable with huge houses – the number of people it takes to maintain them, the distance you have to walk from the kitchen to bedroom. The more human something is and the more aligned with nature, the better I feel.”
Renovating the cottage took two years – “one to think it through and do the plans, and one to do the work,” she said. In the end she virtually de-constructed the entire house, keeping only one original joist. She incorporated salvaged items wherever she could: acacia wood from a storm-fallen tree for the floor, a piece of the old Santa Barbara pier for the mantle, salvaged red oak for the door. She also added environmental technologies: solar panels, an on-demand water heater, and a solar chimney that draws hot air out of the house.
But while going small had been her intent, it was also her challenge. During the two years between buying the property and completing the renovation, she remarried, so the space had to work even more than she’d originally planned.
“In a small house, you use every inch. I measured and re-measured, because virtually everything in the house had to be custom designed. I had to calculate every detail – like how far the warmth of the fireplace would reach to the couch, and how that would impact the sitting area.”
She removed almost all the interior walls in the front half of the house, using discreet lighting and other techniques to create a number of unique living spaces out of one generously sized room. The kitchen, dining area and sitting areas all flow into each other, with all but one appliance completely invisible. A small functional office is tucked into a wide hallway, and a music/reading nook transforms into a cozy guest room with the pull of a curtain.
In the back of the house are a surprisingly spacious bathroom and a laundry room that offers the only place where Greene and her husband John Mealy can keep separate, personal belongings; all other parts of the house are communal. In the bedroom, wide windows and a sliding door make it easy to access the expansive back garden.
And given that her first love was the outdoors, it’s no surprise that the garden is the focal point of the house; in some ways it is the largest and most impressive room, with the interior space designed to draw the eye to it. She converted the badly-sloped deep lot into a gently terraced space filled with two dozen berry bushes and fruit trees, as well as an oversized vegetable garden. Ironically, although she’s a lifelong plant lover and started her career as a botanist, Greene had never seriously grown edibles before. “Now we’ve become backyard farmers. Our yard provides 90 percent of our produce.”
Merging two households into a small home after a lifetime of acquiring things was challenging at first. The family furnishings that they had both accumulated went to John’s children and grandchildren, with only beloved objects making the cut.
“It’s so easy to get burdened and cluttered,” she said. “But here, anytime we bring something into the house, we have to take something out. On the rare instance when I end up at a mall, I really don’t have that feeling of desire or consumer lust for material things. There is a daily discipline to living in a small space.”
Written by Sigrid Wright on Wednesday, 14 September 2011.
Tucked away on a peaceful cul-de-sac that backs up to Elings Park, Dan Emmett's home wouldn't be thought of as an environmental statement at first glance. The solar paneled roof – barely visible except from the upper lawn in the back yard – might even go unnoticed. But Dan and others like him are starting a quiet revolution, built around the idea that solar electricity can power their homes, hot tubs, and even cars.
Dan and his partner Henri Bristol had a 3.5 kW solar panel system installed on their house last year, in part because they were expecting delivery of one of the first all-electric vehicles to be sold by a major car manufacturer, the Nissan Leaf. "I signed up for the Leaf the day they opened the waiting list – even before the cars had been manufactured," he says.
As CEO of a solar energy startup company, Dan wanted to get as close as possible to driving without fossil fuels. "I didn't want to just get a hybrid; I wanted to be completely off petroleum. I wanted my only trips to the gas station to be to be for a pit stop," he says.
"I like the security of knowing that if something were to happen – an earthquake, disruption to the supply of gasoline, or other crisis – I can still get around," he says. "I love how quiet the car is, and also how clean – no tailpipe, no emissions. My bedroom is above the garage, so I like the peace of mind of not having fumes or combustibles just a few feet under my pillow."
He also points out the financial benefits. By day, if his solar panels are generating more electricity than he's using, that electricity is fed into the Southern California Edison grid, where he avoids paying the highest peak period rates of 55 cents per kWh. At midnight, when he charges the car under special "time of use" rates for electric vehicle owners, he pays 10 cents per kWh.
For the most part – like most electric vehicle owners – Dan charges his car battery at home. When he was on the waiting list for his Nissan Leaf, the company sent out a licensed electrician, who recommended that he install a 220-volt charging unit in his garage. "The car does come with a charging kit for a 110-volt outlet, but they call that a 'trickle charge.' It is very slow – you wouldn't even get a full charge overnight." He opted for the 220-volt charging unit, the cost of which was partially offset by a federal tax credit.
With the solar panels on his roof and the new charging station in his garage, Dan was almost ready to leave Santa Barbara in his sunshine-powered car. He just had one problem – something electric vehicle drivers call 'range anxiety' or the fear of running out of juice. He recalls, "I didn't just have range anxiety, I had range panic. I made it to L.A. on the original charge, but it was really dicey – I was in heavy traffic, and I had two miles left on the battery when I got to my destination. When they said that the car had 100 to 120 mile range, I knew that was variable, but my trip was 87 miles door-to-door and I thought I would have more leeway." Since then, he's gotten more accustomed to driving electric and is a pro at finding public charging stations on longer trips.
"It's amazing where technology is – everything is intuitive and transparent. To anyone who is thinking about doing something similar, I would say do it. You will see your gasoline bills and electricity bills go away. It's a lifestyle choice that I think is only going to get easier as the technology improves."
Article modified from original submission to Seasons Magazine.
Written by Sigrid Wright on Thursday, 01 September 2011.
Dr. Timothy Rodgers and his wife Pamela live in a 1948 home near Hendry's Beach. Over the years, they've been on a mission to retrofit their home to make more energy efficient. They've replaced single paned windows with double paned, added insulation to the attic, and replaced halogen lights with LEDs. Making a home more efficient is highly recommended before adding solar panels because "you don't want to have to pay for a system that's any larger than you need," Timothy says.
After talking with 6-8 solar contractors and getting several bids, he contracted with REC Solar to install an 8.4 kW solar system on a hillside on his property in 2009. "We went with an 18-year lease – they do all the maintenance, manage any equipment that might break, and will replace the inverter when it dies, which is expected to be after 10 years."
Recently, Timothy was ready to make another statement reflecting his environmental ethic. "I love cars, and I like the idea of electric cars. When the price of gas hit $4.50/gallon, I thought 'that's it!' First, I went to test drive the Tesla Roadster, then I went to the Community Environmental Council's Earth Day Festival, which includes a large Green Car Show. There were three Tesla owners showing their personal vehicles. I was still on the fence, but hearing them rave about their experiences really helped." He ordered an electric blue Tesla Roadster that week.
The only concern that Timothy had was with the range of the car; in electric vehicles circles, this is known as "range anxiety." Although he still owns a gas-fueled sedan, he wanted to see how the Tesla would handle on a longer trip to San Francisco. Because public charging stations are just starting to come online, his ideal midpoint stopping place – King City – didn't have a station. Instead he stopped for a couple of hours in Atascadero and briefly in Salinas, both times refueling at a Rabobank, which offered free public charging, fueled by solar panels on the roofs "so I was still driving on sunshine, even away from home."
Despite what might seem like complex technology, Roger repeatedly said that the process to install solar and purchase an electric vehicle was seamless, with user-friendly systems that allows him to engage with the technology. "There is a transmitter on my solar inverter that sends out data on the amount of electricity that I generate and use, which I can pull up on my computer," said Timothy. "It's kind of nerdy, but I like to see how I'm doing."
Combining solar panels and electric vehicles makes ditching fossil fuels closer than ever. Transportation and home energy costs make up the vast majority of the average person's energy use. By eliminating reliance on dirty energy in these areas, Fossil Free by '33 is well within reach.
Article modified from original submission to Seasons Magazine.
Written by Sigrid Wright on Monday, 06 June 2011.
Almost every product and service we rely on today is manufactured with or transported by some amount of fossil fuels. Of course, the most important thing we can do to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels is to use less. However, when you do make a purchase, we encourage you to shop for energy-smart products that use less energy to produce.
Here at CEC, we're all about energy-smart products that help us move towards a fossil-free lifestyle and a fossil-free future for Santa Barbara. This is the first in a series of blog posts from CEC staff and supporters about their favorite eco-smart products and we hope you'll find an idea to inspire you.
Today, we're hearing from Sigrid Wright, CEC's Assistant Director.
Favorite eco-product: Lifefactory Water Bottle – reusable water bottle made with glass
Price: $21.99 for 22oz, $19.99 for 16oz
Owned it for: 3 months
There are very few "things" in the world that I would say I love, but this Lifefactory bottle is one of them. In the process of trying to solve one problem that had been bugging me for a while, this product helped me resolve a whole other issue.
My original problem was that I wanted to get away from plastic water bottles as much as possible. There's just so much wrong with them (e.g. that we use 17 million barrels of oil a year in the U.S. just to transport water bottles from one place to the next).
However, I don't like the taste of drinking out of stainless steel containers, or even reusable BP-free plastic bottles -- so I would fill various glass bottles that had originally contained tea or Pelligrino. These worked all right, but they were hard to clean and the caps weren't very durable so half the time I wasn't motivated to carry them around. As a result I often ended up not having water when I needed it.
When a friend brought one of these Lifefactory bottles to a meeting, I immediately bought one. It has a wide mouth so it's easy to clean and add ice, and a durable screw cap with a handle. It also has a silicone protective sleeve, so I'm not afraid it will break tumbling around in my bag. (Although I did drop one full force on pavement and had to replace it.)
But the reason I love it (and why I want to put three little hearts after this post) is that I drink much more water than I did before. It's always with me, and I now drink about three full 22 oz. bottles a day. The Lifefactory bottle has now become one of my favorite presents to give friends.
You can get a Lifefactory water bottle of your own or a different type of reusable water bottle at CEC's Amazon Store in the Reusable Water Bottle section. If you find something you like, a percentage of your purchase comes back to CEC.
Stay tuned to hear from our next CEC staffer, Michelle Kitson, about her favorite reusable bag.
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