Whenever I visit Europe — whether to explore a few former Soviet bloc countries or to take a 2,000-mile driving trip through Italy and Switzerland’s Ticino region — I’m always struck upon “re-entry” into the U.S. by how BIG everything is here at home.
We drive big cars, especially here in Colorado, where every other vehicle seems to be an SUV. Our cars have big cup holders for our venti Frappucinos and Big Gulp sodas. We live in big houses that we furnish with stuff we buy at big-box stores. Our big refrigerators – and often an extra freezer – are crammed full of food we purchase at big supermarkets. And, alas, we ourselves are big, and getting bigger: According to the American Heart Association, more than 70 percent of American adults are overweight, and of those, nearly 38 percent are obese.
Europeans clearly do things differently from us. Yet their ‘smaller’ lives seem in many ways richer and fuller. I’ve begun to notice some of those differences that we might do well to consider. Here are five that really struck me:
Was “go green” one of your New Year’s resolutions? Even if your composter is still empty and there are chemical cleaners still lurking in your cabinets, don’t fret — Only 12 percent of those who make New Year’s resolutions actually keep them for a year. Which, frankly, is 12 percent more than I would have guessed. But if you’re like me and the other 88 percent, what can help us keep resolutions is the support of others.
With that in mind, this Earth Day I’m enlisting my family in the greening goals I set for 2011. And by “greening” (aren’t we all just getting sick to death of that word?), I mean treading more lightly on my wallet, my Daytimer, my blood pressure and Mother Earth. Surely THAT’s a resolution worth fighting for!
Buying a kayak qualifies as a “big purchase” for my family, and my husband and I recently took that huge step. Although we’ve had a canoe for a long time, this is our first acquisition of this type of silent-sports, aquatic craft.
Have a hybrid? Enjoying riding solo in the carpool lane? Those days could be numbered.
Some in California’s legislature are proposing new rules that would either grant solo driving privileges only to vehicles powered by alternative fuels like electricity and natural gas or would require hybrids to get at least 65 miles per gallon, rather than the 45 miles per gallon combined city-highway mileage required today. Why the changes? Too many hybrids.
Ford, Chevy, Nissan, and Mitsubishi have all announced plans to release fully electric cars in the coming years, which means we’re going to have to have charging stations available for about a million all-electric cars by 2014. So, how’s that going to work?
Good question. Here’s your cheat sheet on what they’re calling electric vehicle “smart charging.”
Back in June when I wrote about the upcoming Cash for Clunkers program, few observers actually thought many people would take advantage of it. Surprisingly, then, as you’ve probably heard on the news, it was so wildly successful that it used up its entire $1 billion allotment in a single week!
Summer means swimming pools and hot dogs and… boiling hot cars. Raise your hand if you’ve recently almost burnt your hand on your steering wheeling after your ride’s been baking in the sun.
Yes, I’m that girl. The one who speeds up on a city street only to slam on the brakes 100 yards later in the face of a stoplight. Apparently I’m not only doing a number on my brakes. Turns out it’s not so good for the environment either.
You need a new car, and you want to do your bit for the planet. So you’re weighing your eco-friendly options:
There’s the Prius, of course. Cost: $25,000. Mileage: 46 mpg.
The new Smart cars are cheaper–$17,000 for the two-seater. Mileage: About the same.
Al Gore: New Thinking on the Climate Crisis
In his update to the legendary slideshow featured in An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore presents evidence that the pace of climate change may be even worse than scientists were recently predicting, and challenges us to set it right. (Technology, Entertainment, Design)
Enterprise Opens ‘Green’ Branches