Cost of Washing Reusable Bags

Posted in Insightson Aug 20, 2014

According to this USA Today article, you should wash your reusable grocery bags once per week to avoid getting sick.  How much does it cost to wash your bags?

Suppose you wash all your bags in a separate load of laundry, once per week.  That load of laundry requires:

  • About 1.1 kWh of electricity to wash in a front-loader and 1.4 kWh to dry for just 20 minutes.
  • About 15 gallons of water for your front-loader washer
  • Laundry detergent.

In Fort Collins, water rates are $2.53 per 1000 gallons, sewage rates are $3.34 per 1000 gallons, and about $0.09 per kWh of electricity.  Member’s Mark liquid detergent from Sam’s Club costs $0.11 per load.

For an entire year of washing reusable bags every week, you would use:

  • 130 kWh of electricity
  • 780 gallons of water (and sewage)
  • 80 ounces of laundry detergent.

For a total cost of: about $22 to wash your reusable bags once per week.

Fort Collins recently passed an ordinance requiring stores to charge $0.05 per disposable bag.  For the $22 cost of washing bags, a person could instead “buy” 440 plastic bags.

Environmental Cost: The main motive for charging for disposable bags in Fort Collins was the environmental impact of those bags.  What is the environmental impact of washing the reusable bags?  What is the environmental impact of producing the reusable bags?  What is the environmental impact of reusable bags that are worn out and thrown away?

Xcel West Main Gas Pipeline

Posted in Businesson Aug 4, 2014

Dear Xcel Energy,

Your communications about the Xcel West Main Gas Pipeline construction through Fort Collins have been misleading.  Considerations to Fort Collins motorists have been minimal.

In an April 21 article in the Coloradoan, Kevin Duggan reports that East bound Drake Road would be closed for two weeks for construction.  15 weeks later and there is still construction on Drake Road causing lane closures.

In a June 30 article in the Coloradoan, Kevin Duggan reports that work should wrap up that week, by July 4, along Drake and Timberline, except that it hasn’t.

On your own website you state, “There are currently no road or lane closures in place for work along South Timberline Road north of the Drake Road intersection.” (Pulled 8:45am, August 4).  Except that as I drove by this morning I noticed that a South bound lane was closed for more construction.

I understand the need for infrastructure upgrades.  But the importance of such upgrades are no excuse for poor communications with the public.  Not only is information passed through the newspaper or your website incorrect, but roadside information has been almost non-existent.  There have been no signs informing the public of possible delays.  Even “LEFT LANE CLOSED AHEAD” signs are located low to the ground on the right side of the road where they often can’t be seen by drivers in the left lane.  That is not being “responsible by nature.”

Maybe you are wrapping things up (although I’ve thought that a few times before) and it is too late to make this plea, but I request that you get your communications act together and start being more forthcoming with the public about lane closures, possible delays, and the realistic time frames for such activities.

Sincerely,

Jacob Brunson

Go to Amazon.com and buy a gift card.  Choose “Instant Delivery: Email” and send the gift card to your own email.  When paying for the gift card, make sure you use your prepaid credit card number and the full remainder of the Visa gift card balance.

In just a couple of minutes after purchasing the gift card, you will get it in your email.  Then you apply the gift card balance to your account, and use it on your next Amazon purchase.

Since it is difficult to use the exact balance just by shopping at stores, this is a good way to clean every last cent off that card.  Also, a good way to “regift” that Visa gift card by turning it into an Amazon card that you can give to someone else.

So long Springpad

Posted in Technicalon May 29, 2014

Springpad is kind of like a mix between Evernote and Pinterest.  It was a very clean personal organization site that I thought was pretty decent.  Sadly, they announced this week that they are shutting down.

It is always a little sad when I see such a good product and many hours of innovation just die.

Coding in the cloud

Posted in Technicalon Dec 30, 2013

I’ve been looking for ways to write code inside a web browser.  There are a number of offerings, and I plan on giving a serious look to the free ones.

So far, I’ve come across runnable.com, It seems like a good site to share code snippets that can be executed right on the site. Kind of like a YouTube-like site for sharing code.  It isn’t the sort of site that you would want to code a large project, but good for sharing just a chunk of code that might be useful by others or useful for programming instruction.

Some of the things I am looking for when writing code in the cloud is the ability to import, export, run, and write code easily.  I am especially looking for the ability to work along side my existing development practices on my home computer.

I’m an adult leader for a patrol of 11 year old boy scouts.  This weekend we are going camping, and I was thinking about the dialog that might occur between the boys and their parents after the trip.  I thought up these questions which I might suggest to parents in order to facilitate such dialog.

Ask about the food.  What did they eat?  Who made it?  What was their favorite thing to eat?  How was the food compared to other camping trips?  How long did it take to cook?  What could they have done to eat sooner?

Ask not just about the weather, but how the scout prepared and reacted to the weather.  What did you do to stay warm?

Ask about the accomplishments.  What was the hardest thing on the campout?  What was the most rewarding?

Ask about their interactions with other scouts.  Who was in the tent with you?  Who was responsible for putting up and taking down the tent?  How did you help the other scouts have fun?  What “good turns” did you do for others?

As parents ask these questions, they shouldn’t be judgemental.  It isn’t a checkup to see if the scout behaved appropriately.  The purpose of the dialog should be to help the scouts make the connection between their actions and the results of their actions.  By talking vocally about the campout, the scouts can turn the things they have done into things they have learned.

The Chicago Tribute had an interesting editorial about Obama’s secret surveillance programs. He references a press conference where Obama tried explaining away such programs with promises of transparency. Here is a choice paragraph from that editorial:

The president says he would have preferred “a lawful, orderly examination of these laws.” Whose fault is it that we didn’t have one? It’s only because of Snowden that the administration’s program has come under review. Before that, we didn’t know what there was to review. And the secrecy was Obama’s choice.

In fact, two years ago, Senator Wyden of Oregon asked the President to participate in an “orderly examination” of those laws. But that didn’t really happen.

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