4 Reasons it’s High Season to Buy an Electric Vehicle (EV)

by Laura Parker Roerden

Best Investments in Sustainability

Last Memorial Day our family finally replaced our 15-year old premium-gas guzzling car. You could say that it was high time! But it was also an opportunity to think out of the box about our transportation needs and the challenges facing our planet. We bought an electric vehicle (EV): the Chevy Bolt. In those fifteen years, a lot changed in regards to transportation options. Here are four reasons to consider an EV this season.

  1. IT’S CHEAPER THAN A CONVENTIONAL CAR

We knew we wanted to reduce our carbon footprint, but until we started shopping we hadn’t realized how much money we could also save by no longer having to gas up. It turns out that free EV chargers are everywhere! Who knew? We are eight months and 12,000 miles in and have yet to pay a penny for energy. By the end of a year of operating, we estimate we will have wracked up $1,200-$1,500 in gas savings alone. Also see details of federal tax credits (up to $7,500) and any offered by your state. For more explanation about how the total cost of ownership (TCO) is much lower on EVs than in conventional gasoline powered cars see this article.

A cost comparison that does not even factor in tax incentives, which are a big boost of $10,000 tax credits in MA.

 

  1. IT’S SUPRISINGLY FUN

The EV experience has turned out to be a surprisingly great ride and fun lifestyle. A large network of EV owners offer their own garages as plug ins to other owners travelling through Plug Share. So becoming an EV owner is a bit like owning a Harley-Davidson motorcycle: you find yourself suddenly part of a large community of people with whom you share something in common.

Chargepoint, an easy-to-use app for your phone lists free and pay chargers along the routes that you are travelling. I’ve occasionally combined errands with opportunities to charge, discovering in the process wonderful treasures. I’ve been to new libraries where I’ve read books I wouldn’t have otherwise. Or I’ve ended up at an unfamiliar family-owned cafe where the new vantage helped me work more effectively on a project. You can also slide right into premium spaces in busy places like the beach on a hot day, where you can re-charge both your own and your car’s batteries. Lastly, strangers everywhere strike up conversations with you about your ride. They really should add this part of the experience to the brochure. It’s been the best part of EV ownership!

And if you have range anxiety, consider that EV ownership more accurately resembles owning a cell phone. We are in the habit of nightly charging, which means we always have a full tank. For most trips, this is more than sufficient charge.

  1. END OF THE YEAR IS PERFECT TIMING

If you’re in need of a new car there is no better time than right now to consider either purchasing or leasing an EV. Leases start at $139/month, and can be researched through Massachusetts Energy Consumer Alliance, which offers everything you need to shop for a discounted car on their website including handy comparisons. Also, both federal ($7,500) tax incentives are still available.

New Years Eve and New Years Day is traditionally one of the best times of the year to buy a car, with discounts ranging from 7-9% as car manufacturers are incentivized to move inventory and meet both quarterly and annual sales goals.

4. YOU’LL BE LOWERING YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT

For the chorus of naysayers who might say, “But the energy you’re charging your car with is also dirty,” the answer is: nowhere near as dirty as a gas car. For a complete discussion of the environmental impact of EVs cradle to grave, see this well-researched article from the Union of Concerned Scientists. And since the devil is in the details, the UCS also offers an interactive online tool that compares the EV you are thinking of buying to conventional gas and hybrid options using the energy grid mix specific to your zip code. Here is the data on how our Chevy Bolt compares:

There’s plenty of reason to believe that 2020 will be a great year for EVs, with more and more models joining the marketplace. Mass Energy’s Dive Green Program Coordinator Anna Vanderspek had this to say: ““After running Drive Green with Mass Energy for a couple years now, we are looking forward to an exciting 2020! Lots of people have gotten excellent deals on cars like the Chevrolet Bolt and Volt and Nissan LEAF so far, and we are excited for the new electric cars coming on the market.”

We’ve recently installed solar panels on our barn so that we can charge the car and power our house with the sun. Growing up on a farm, I think I’ve always appreciated the way the sun grew the hay and corn that fed the cows that produced the high-butter fat milk used to make the butter and ice cream our wholesaler supplied to area homes. Driving a vehicle also powered by the sun is oddly reconnecting to those ancient rhythms and relationships.

In a nod to that history, we bought our Bolt in what we like to refer to as Jo-Erl Farm Blue—so our car matches our tractor. While that coordination might not be on your car shopping list, we hope you’ll now look into an EV as a best investment in sustainability.

Haying equipment in the field at Jo-Erl Farm

 

Be sure to not miss a Salt from the Earth post by subscribing here:

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Learn more about From the Shaker: Best Investments in Sustainability.

Laura Parker Roerden

Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the boards of Women Working for Oceans (W20) and Earth, Ltd. and is a member of the Pleiades Network of Women.

 

 

 

 

 

Wrappin’ It Up

Best Investments in Sustainability

by Maria Dee

We don’t wrap Christmas presents. To tell you that this started as an earth-friendly initiative would be a lie. During the Christmas season of  2010, I had a 9-year old, a 4-year old, and an 11-month old. My husband and I had a Christmas Eve routine that worked with two kids:  we would stay awake after the kids would go to bed, and while they slept, we would assemble toys and wrap presents. We usually had some drinks and dessert, listening to Christmas music or watching the “A Christmas Story” marathon. At some point we’d split up to wrap each other’s gifts, and then we’d finish the night admiring the mountain of presents under the tree.

And then our 3rd child came, and I knew that was all over.  I had never been so tired in my entire life. Wouldn’t the kids be just as happy to receive presents if they were UNwrapped? Those kids never slept past 6AM, and with the excitement of Christmas they’d wake up at 5. I was so tired that my eyeballs throbbed, and I just wanted to throw those toys into a sack and get myself to bed.

Lightbulb. Grab-bag, the Christmas edition!! So I’m sorry, Mother Earth. This was totally about me and catching some Zzzzzz.

These cute bags can be purchased on Etsy by clicking on the pic.

But it does turn out to be a win for Mother Earth.

Would you believe that between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we create 25% more garbage, equalling about 25 million tons of waste? Only a fastidious few of gift recipients will open the packages delicately without tearing it, with the intention of reusing it for another gift. Paper gift bags and tissue are only marginally more likely to be saved and used another time. Cloth sacks are reusable, year after year. And isn’t that the image that many of us have of Santa, a sack thrown over his shoulder as he heads down the chimney, the sacks of toys piled up in his reindeer-drawn sleigh?

In 2010, I spent $50 on 5 large cloth sacks. I have not bought Christmas wrapping paper since then. Some friends, inspired by the idea, made their own out of fabric or pillow cases, and then gave me some, too! When I am unsure about getting a gift sack back, like at a Secret Santa or for teacher gifts, I reach under my bed for the remaining rolls of Christmas wrap that are, yes, 7 years old.

Christmas morning in my house is just as festive as it ever has been. We tag the presents with the kids’ names, and the kids take turns reaching into the bags and giving the gift to its recipient. Each year, though, I am stunned at the amount of trash still created—factory packaging is full of plastic and cardboard, and both the recycling and trash bins are piled high. But the trash would be 25% higher without that effort.

 

Maria Dee lives in Boston with her husband and three children. She’s an accidental environmentalist, a result of focusing on every day ways to reduce waste without sacrificing convenience, too much money, and her sense of humor. She also pretends she can sing, take photos, and make a difference in Boston politics.

 

 

 

 

Be sure to not miss a Salt from the Earth post by subscribing here:

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Learn more about From the Shaker: Best Investments in Sustainability.

Beeswax Food Cloth

Best Investments in Sustainability

by Guest Blogger Bonnie Combs

“Plastic is Drastic,” said a local fourth-grader working on a poster to promote plastic bag recycling at her school. Along with startling images of sea turtles negatively impacted by plastic pollution and plastic bags caught in tree branches blowing in the wind, those words could not be truer. I got to meet this inspiring girl while giving a presentation on recycling at her school and they have stuck with me.

My commitment to plastic recycling (truthfully it’s more more like plastic avoidance), kicked up a few notches a couple of years ago when I attended a Keep America Beautiful conference and crossed paths with a representative from Trex, who was promoting their recycling program for plastic bags and plastic film. It was a watershed moment for me when I learned that those recycling bins at the entrance to your local supermarket accepted not only the ubiquitous plastic shopping bag, but all kinds of plastic film, known as stretchy plastic and includes products such as bubble wrap, newspaper bags, product overwrap (from things like paper towels and bottled water), food storage bags, bread bags and similar products. Trex works with many retailers in collecting this plastic and makes lumber products with it.

It should be noted that these plastic bags and film must be clean and dry in order to come into contact with food and to be recycled. The next best step is to find something reusable, so that it does not end up in the trash bin. Using a food-safe plastic storage container is one good idea, but did you know that you can call on the bees to help you cover certain dishes that do not have lids?

Beeswax food cloth is trending now among people concerned about their environmental impact and also the effect that plastic has on our own health. It takes just two ingredients: cotton cloth and beeswax to create an all-natural food wrap that can be used over and over again.

Image from Bee Kind Wraps. Follow on FB at https://www.facebook.com/beekindwraps/

In my travels this summer, I purchased a beautiful package of beeswax food cloth at an artisan fair and decided I was going to learn how to make it myself. I clipped it to my fridge for inspiration and when the holidays started rolling around, I decided it was time. After watching several videos and reading tutorials on the subject, I settled on a no-fuss version of baking it in the oven.

On Thanksgiving morning, while everyone was baking holiday pies and posting pictures of their delicious creations, I posted my pictures of baking cotton cloth with beeswax. Along with sweet potato rolls that I baked and wrapped in a linen towel and an apple torte that I packed in cake carrier, I had made some delicious cranberry apple chutney and purchased a beautiful bowl that sat on a pedestal at a local consignment shop with the intention of leaving it for the host where we were going for a Friendsgiving dinner. The bowl didn’t have a lid and I knew I wasn’t going to show up with plastic wrap over the bowl, so the night before I put my 100% cotton fabric through the wash to prepare for the making of the beeswax wrap.

How to Make Beeswax Wrap

The process is simple.

  1. Warm an oven up to no more than 195 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Cut your prewashed 100% cotton fabric into desired size and shape and lay it onto the baking pan.
  3. For the beeswax, you can purchase a block and shave it with a cheese grater or you can buy beeswax pellets. I settled on the pellets for ease of use and sprinkled them on, being mindful to evenly distribute them overthe cloth. You don’t need to cover the entire cloth as the beeswax melts and is quickly absorbed by the cloth.
  4. It’s almost magical to watch through the oven door. Within 10 minutes, the cloth is wet with the melted beeswax and you can remove the pan from the oven. Inspect to make sure all the edges and areas of the cloth are covered. Carefully pick up the cloth from the edges and hang from a makeshift clothesline until dry, which is just about two minutes.

The new beeswax coated cloth responds to the heat in your hands and will gently encapsulate what you are try to cover, be it a round bowl, or a piece of cranberry nut bread that you want to share with a friend.

 

To care for your food cloth, gently rinse in cool water (never hot as the wax will melt). You can use a mild soap if needed and hang to try. I should point out that you can also reuse the parchment paper. You will have droplets of melted beeswax on your parchment-lined pan and they will quickly harden. Just save the paper until your next use and place the cloth over them. They will melt again into your next piece of fabric!

Sharing food has become even more fun now that I have made my own beeswax food cloth! And now you can too!

 

Just in time for the holidays, Bonnie is offering beeswax food wraps for just $5.00 (plus shipping). “Bee the Change” and order yours today! 

Bonnie Combs lives in Blackstone, MA, and is the Marketing Director at Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc., where she also manages the non-profit’s Trash Responsibly™ program. Bonnie works with the 25 communities within the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor on litter cleanups and provide recycling education and events. When she’s not working, she is usually sewing up reusable shopping bags made from seed, feed and grain bags. She also gives workshops on how to make them. Most recently she has started making zippered storage pouches made from upholstery samples that were destined for the landfill by a major retailer. You can follow her journey on Facebook at Bird Brain Designs by Bonnie.

—————————————————————–

Learn more about From the Shaker: Best Investments in Sustainability

and make sure you don’t miss another one by subscribing:

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Or contact us to become a guest blogger! We want to hear about the Best Investments in Sustainability from your home.

Carrying the Moon

by Laura Parker Roerden

Seven bluebirds live on the edge of our hayfield.
Their flight has helped me understand the loss
of my father and brother, two generations of farmers who died
as dominoes go down; one right after the other.

On the end of the field, where a barren lawn meets
boughs of wild grass, the birds compete for gooseberries
or aggressively drive sparrows from their nests.
There is the suggestion there will never be enough;

that loss has somehow won. That each is on her own.
Yet some days, the bluebirds catch a wave
of air across the wide expanse of field, where they undulate
and dart as if one, a single origami crane folding outwards

in a flash of brilliant indigo iridescence. They fear nothing.
When the hard frost of early winter has settled on the fields
and fences; the bluebirds can be found only in their fiery journey
reflected by seven hot, blue stars in the northern sky

of Taurus sailing as one: The Pleiades.
On these days, when we must awaken to fight the threat to rocks
and brooks, canyons and seamounts, stone staircases to the stars,
and places where grass can grow as bouquets of promise and abundance,

these seven stars spill a secret. While what’s at stake
is more than today, loss is a fallow field we can replant,
(as the ancients knew) at the first rise of Pleiades.

And no matter how dark the night,
we together can carry the moon.

Carrying the Moon © Laura Parker Roerden 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Inspired and dedicated to the fabulous Pleiades Network, a constellation of women leaders in sustainability, with deep gratitude to Kathleen Finlay and Penelope Jagessar Chafe for “carrying the moon.”

Laura Parker Roerden

Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the boards of Women Working for Oceans (W20) and Earth, Ltd. and is a member of the Pleiades Network of Women in Sustainability. She lives on her fifth generation family farm in MA.

Subscribe to Salt from the Earth Blog:

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Cloth Everyday

by Guest Blogger Sarah Harrison Roy of Running Girl Eats

Best Investments in Sustainability

Cloth napkins: why even bother to write about something so ordinary?

Well, to me there’s nothing ordinary about cloth napkins. To me, they are gorgeous works of art that lighten up and decorate the kitchen table. To me, they are an outstanding way to save money and our gorgeous forests. To me, they are a way I nurture myself, my family, and give meals a special ritual and celebratory feel.

I grew up using cloth napkins as there was no such thing as a paper napkin at the time, at least not to my knowledge, and my mother NEVER would have used paper napkins at our kitchen table.
I grew up in a house of hanging laundry, homemade bread, and lots and lots of canning from the gigantic garden we grew out back. My mother sewed our clothes, my father built our dollhouses and furniture, and my mother prided herself on re-using everything that came into our home.
She made our meals special. We set the table with silver for each meal, matching place settings, placemats or table cloth, and of course beautiful napkins.
I still use cloth napkins at my kitchen table. I use those same dishes and placemats, as they were handed down to me at my wedding. I learned to make meals feel special; to make the meal a time for the family to gather together. To talk and listen to each other. To share about the day and enjoy the homemade food at the table.  We sit and slow down. We put our phones away and shut the computers off. We join together to share what was good about the day and possibly what wasn’t so good. We laugh, we give each other high-fives, and we offer support.
 
The dishes, placemats, and napkins are symbols that tell my family it’s time to settle down and come together.  By using these items, I’m able to give our meals some history and ritual.
Using cloth napkins makes our meals just that much more special and in the process I’m able to do my little part in saving a few trees. Using cloth doesn’t take much effort. Simply wash, hang dry in the sun, and re-use.  It’s that easy. If everyone used cloth at their meals, just think of all the trees and money that could be saved.
Why not add a special ritual to your family meals and put a few cents back in your wallet at the same time? Do something good for you and for our Mother Earth. I purchased some of these gorgeous napkins on Etsy.com. Go take a peak.

About Sarah Harrison Roy and Running Girl Eats

Holistic Nutrition Coach Licensed * Institute for Integrative Nutrition, MBA * Simmons College

My goal is to help people move beyond emotional eating and to healthier more desirable habits.

I combine philosophies of a few great experts, licensing as a Holistic Nutrition Coach, and a lifetime of experience in my own battle with emotional eating, anorexia, and addiction. I offer to you what has worked for me and my clients. Together we get to the root cause of your eating struggles.

No more dieting, depriving, calorie counting, product testing, disappointment, and distress around what we see as our lack of willpower.

I choose to see that our eating struggles exist as a doorway into the other areas of our life that need love and attention. Our struggles with emotional eating habits shine a light on what we can learn and change in order to feel more life satisfaction in our relationships, career, physical body, and spiritual world.

Please visit my website at Running Girl Eats and schedule an Introduction if you would like to get to know me better and hear more about how I can help you.

—————————————————————–

Learn more about From the Shaker: Best Investments in Sustainability

and make sure you don’t miss another one by subscribing:

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Or contact us to become a guest blogger! We want to hear about the Best Investments in Sustainability from your home.