A nation built on unsustainability

Obviously driving less, using mass transit, biking, walking or purchasing a fuel-efficient vehicle are the best ways to cut your fuel consumption.

With trucking diesel fuel prices now over $4 per gallon in many locations, food prices are reaching an all-time high, since the average grocery store item has traveled 1,500 to 3,500 miles.

Over the past year alone, consumers have been forced to pay significantly more for staples like eggs (25 percent), milk (17 percent), cheese (15 percent), bread (12 percent) and rice (13 percent). This is partially due to increased transportation costs and partially due to massive amounts of cropland being converted to biofuel production. As a result, consumers are paying more for their food and paying $15 billion in increased taxes per year for biofuel subsidies.

Fuel prices have nearly doubled the expenses of commuters over the last year. Recent polls show a strong majority of U.S. citizens are in favor of allocating a larger portion of the federal budget for mass transportation.

In contrast, the amount of federal money earmarked for mass transit projects (e.g., rail and bus) has been reduced by nearly 70 percent since the Bush administration took office in 2001.

A record number of consumers are using credit cards to pay for increased fuel costs. Although the recession has negatively impacted employment, The New York Times reports one of the few booming occupations in the current job market is debt collection.

Since 2001, the top five oil companies have increased their annual profits by an average of 500 percent. Obviously driving less, using mass transit, biking, walking or purchasing a fuel-efficient vehicle are the best ways to cut your fuel consumption. But for those times when driving a car is a necessity, here are some tips:

  • Don’t be a jerky driver. Jumpy starts and fast getaways can burn over 50 percent more gasoline than normal acceleration. Use cruise control once accelerated.
  • Slow down. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, most automobiles get about 20 percent more miles per gallon on the highway at 55 miles per hour than they do at 70 miles per hour.
  • A well-maintained car (oil change, fuel filters, tire pressure, alignment) gets an average of 10 percent better fuel efficiency.
  • Turn off your engine if you stop for more than one minute. (This does not apply if you are in traffic.) Restarting the automobile will use less gasoline than idling for more than one minute.
  • Decrease the number of short trips you make. Short trips drastically reduce gas mileage. If an automobile gets 20 miles per gallon in general, it may get only four miles per gallon on a short trip of five miles or less.

 

Resource: www.organicconsumers.org.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 27, Number 2, April/May 2008.

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