Posts Tagged ‘environment

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?

I use a modern HP Compaq laptop for business use.  Recently, I installed Kubuntu 8.10 on it with KDE 4.1.  One of the features of the power monitoring task is that it can tell you how much power your laptop.  Power is measured in watts, just like lightbulbs.

When I’m casually using my laptop, it uses between 16 and 21 watts.  I played around a little with the display brightness controlls, and I found that as much as 25% of the laptop power is used by the display backlight.  When the display brightness is all the way down, my laptop uses 16-17 watts.  When the display birghtness is fully bright, it uses about 20-21 watts. Read the rest of this entry »

Aerodynamic trucking

Posted in Businesson Jun 25, 2008

Today I passed one of those big trailer hauling semis, and I started to wonder about what it might be carrying. Bread that I might buy at the grocery store? My next couch? Fertilizer for the farm down the road?

Truck driving down the road

Then I started to think about how incredibly not aerodynamic the trailer is. Anyone who has participated in a pine wood derby knows that a big block on wheels isn’t the best way to go. If you’ve felt the wind come off the end or sides of one of these trucks as it drives by, then you have felt the energy that is lost because of the inefficient design of the big box trailer.

I suppose they are made that way because that is the most inexpensive way to make a trailer. But with diesel prices near $5 per gallon, maybe it’s time to re-think that.

If big-rig trucks were more aerodynamic, then they would get better gas mileage. If they get better gas mileage, then that reduces the cost of delivery for the products they are delivering. This, in turn, can keep consumer prices slightly lower. Lower prices helps the economy.

So much of our economy depends on the distribution of goods, that maybe it is time to think uniquely about making our means of distribution more affordable.

(Image source)

Stay married to save the planet

Posted in Insightson Dec 4, 2007

Divorce rates are increasing all over the world, except in the United States where fewer people getting married means fewer people getting divorced. When people live separate single lives, they consume more resources which is contributing to the causes of global warming, according to a study at Michigan State University.

Divorced couples use more space in their respective homes, equating to 38 million more rooms to heat, light, and air condition. Divorced couples also consume 73 billion kilowatt-hours more of electricity and 627 billion gallons more of water than married couples.

More details of the study are provided at New Scientist, which provides more quotes and statistics about divorce and its effect on the environment.

Smoking environmentalists

Posted in Funnyon Jun 12, 2007

I saw a funny Facebook group today called:
People who smoke should not call themselves environmentalists