Spring Cleaning: Commute Your Driving Sins

If you can’t ditch your car, you’re not alone. But there are things you can do to clean up your gas usage.

This challenge is in partnership with Levi's ®

Global warming is getting worse, and so are our commutes. The 2010 American Community Survey showed that in 2009 the number of commuters driving alone increased half a percentage point to 76.6 percent, a total of about 100 million people. Meanwhile, the percentage who took public transportation slightly decreased to 4.9 percent.

Of course, you already know some of the easiest ways to help curb pollution. Carpool. Take the bus. Take the metro. Bike to work at least once a week and get fit in the process. (The first few days on the road can be intimidating, but follow a few simple tips and confidence will follow.) Or make your other car an electric bike. Walk, and enjoy some spring air. Our December human infographic on traffic in Los Angeles showed how much better traffic flow would become if just 3 percent of the city’s drivers switched to taking public transportation or biking to work.

If you can’t ditch your car, you’re not alone. There are 808 cars for every 1000 people in the U.S, second only to Monaco. Transportation counts for 28 percent of America’s total energy use, and the average car only travels 22.5 miles per gallon. Twenty percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States come from transportation. And one gallon of gasoline takes nearly 13 gallons of water to produce, so you may be inadvertently using more than 500 gallons of water every time you fill up. But there are things you can do to clean up your car’s gas usage:

  • Usually, the older your car is, the less fuel-efficient it is. If you keep your speed at 55 or below, your car won’t have to work as hard and you’ll save gas. (Are you really in a hurry to get to work, anyway?) If you’re waiting for a train to pass or are stuck behind a police blockage, turn off your engine. Avoid sudden stops or quick revs of your engine. And make sure your car is up to date as far as installing clean air filters and getting regular maintenance and tune-ups. Lastly, keep your tires fully inflated; being low on air can be a huge gas suck.
  • If you’re ready to switch to a greener car, the Environmental Protection Agency’s green vehicle guide can help you find the right one for you, or evaluate how earth-friendly your current car is. Or check out for an extensive list of vehicles rated by environmental standards. The Toyota Prius tops the list, traveling 51 mpg, followed by the Honda Insight and the Scion IQ. Electric cars only make up a tiny fraction of vehicles on the road in America, but the Mitsubishi I-Miev electric car won the top spot for greenest vehicle of 2012.
  • April isn’t just Spring Cleaning Month, it’s also—who knew—National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, according to the Department of Transportation. Texting or talking while driving means more accidents, which means more rubbernecking, slower traffic and wasted gas for the rest of us. So, a basic way to clean up your commute is simply to focus on the task at hand.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Molbot

To learn more about how you can save water every day, click here and take the Water<Less Challenge.

via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

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A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

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Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger


Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head


Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor


Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

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