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Nasty Polluted Air

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Looks like Charlotte is having routine Code Orange air pollution now these days (next two days have that prediction) and we have had at least one Code Red already and summer only officially just started last week. My question is are you guys making any lifestyle changes that might reduce your own personal impact on the air quality in Charlotte?

Idle automobile motors


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- I sold my car so I either don't leave areas within walking distance or bussing distance, or else I coordinate to carpool.

- I live within a mile of my work, my grocer, my drugstore, and most places that I need to go.

- Instead of driving to the Y to run in place in air conditioning, I run in the real world.

- I do not drive in congestion with the rest of the pack ('nobody goes there anymore, it is too crowded').

- Whenever I have work in the suburbs, I am on the right side of the above pic not the left.

- I avoid the suburbs like the plague, where I'd not only have to drive far, but I'd have to drive on congested thoroughfares or freeways.

- I take transit or telecommute whenever walking doesn't work out, such as in inclement weather.

Inside my home: (as the coal power plants are a major reason for our polluted air)

- I have an energy star TV, DVD player, and other electronics to reduce electricity used when using them.

- I have programmable thermostat which we set for the A/C or heat to be vitually off in the middle of the night and while at work.

- Three quarters of my light bulbs are compact fluorescents, with the only exceptions being at our bathroom mirror (where the light affects self esteem), the dining room (where the lack of dimmability affects ambience), and a number of bulbs in lamps we hardly ever use (so they aren't worth the higher expense of CFLs).

- I only have laptops, which use significantly less electricity, and put them on hibernate (no electricity use) when I am not using them.

- I have a natural gas heating system, hot water system, and dryer offsetting the electricity used for heating, which is not only more efficient, but pollutes much less than the mix of electricity fuels from Duke (mostly coal).

- I have most of my battery and phone chargers on a powerstrip on a switched outlet, so that when we aren't actively charging something, the switch can be off, reducing the phantom loads (many times chargers pull the same amount of electricity down, regardless of whether charging a phone or not).

- Only run the dishwasher or clothes washer when they are full.

- Keep window shutters mostly closed during warm months to reduce the cooling needs.

- Use ceiling fans as much as possible to reduce the air conditioning needs.

Politically and Culturally:

- I converse with other people about not driving to the Y just to run in place, about hour long commutes from rural nowhere towns, about the joys of a short or a reverse commute, etc. etc.

- I support mass transit and urbanization to help redesign this city from one wholly reliant on long car trips.

- I support retail to uptown, to hopefully remove some of the last trips we must take to the suburbs.

- I support hybrid, flex-fuel, plug-in electric, hydrogen technologies, and plan to buy or rent them whenever I can (I used a hybrid car when I was commuting by freeway.

Misc/Other Emissions:

- I don't smoke and support smoke-free establishments.

- I only paint my house with low-VOC paint.

- I buy non-toxic cleaners in my house, which I'm sure translates to some lower emissions of some stuff.

- I try to buy local and natural as much as possible, so that also probably factors into emissions indirectly.

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Moved to center city, walk almost everywhere except to work (I can't, I have to visit job sites daily but they are all within a mile or so of downtown). Once the trains get moving my partner and I will sell one car, we currently have 2 and just bought a vespa to suppliment when one is sold.

I plan on using the trains to shop soon also as most of where we currently shop for things that aren't located in the middle of town can be found along South Blvd: World Market, AMC Theaters, Home Depot, Shoe stores, etc.

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I bought a house (purposely) that is within very easy walking distance of a HT, restaurants, bars, and other local services near Park and Woodlawn. The biggest being the grocery store, which cuts out 2-3 car trips a week. I rarely drive to any of these things.

Hasn't happened yet, but I'm selling my sports car and will be buying the most practical fuel efficient car I can find. I've cut down on driving so much that owning a car is just not practical with monthly payments.

I ride a bike for exercise and transportation, ride the 19 bus to visit friends or when going uptown, and will use the bike/LRT combo when the blue line becomes operational. (cant wait to use that bike rack :) )

Even though I live within a mile or 2 of Tyvola, I never venture outside of it, all the services I need are between my house and uptown.

My house is practical for me at just over 1000sf to keep heating and cooling costs down, and I've started buying energy efficient appliances (still not all though). I've become more aware of what is done to my lawn after learning about these things. No longer use any fertilizers, weed eating chemicals, and no longer water my lawn.

I debate and preach daily to my older, blue collar, hard headed, suburban minded coworkers. I've got most of them supportive of the transit tax and mass transit in general, and even getting through with them on some of the environmental issues. (not easy.....)

I'm learning as I go about alot of these things, and I think most people dont realize how much of a difference small changes can make. I certainly have room for improvement, so I'll keep trying to do my part.

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  • I went to telecommuting so I don't need to drive to work anymore. I drive so infrequently now that I haven't bought any gas since April and the battery went dead from lack of use. LOL I might sell it (second car) but I do like it since it is a Merc. Maybe I will get a SMART when they come out next winter.

  • I hang clothes on a clothes line like most people did 30 years ago. Clothes dryers are huge energy wasters, both in the energy they directly use and in the air conditioned and heated air they exhaust outside during the process of drying.

  • I have stopped purchasing sick produce from places like Harris Teeter where that is imported from 1000s of miles away. Instead we have moved to seasonal vegetable that can be gotten local. We have a garden and very fortunate, there is a CSA farm near here.

  • Converted all of the incadescent lights to CFLs.

  • Recycle as much as possible and avoid buying stuff with a lot of packaging.

  • Eat less meat

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I didn't think about produce...we buy almost all we eat from the market downtown on Saturdays or the market on Kings during the week. I also have 5 varieties of peppers growing on my terrace and grow all of the possible spices we use in multiple pots (basil - 3 kinds, thyme, parsley, oregano). Not a big difference, but a little

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I'm not nearly as green as Dub (he's set the bar pretty high), but some of the things I've done or do:

*Traded a gas-slurping Saab turbo for a Honda hybrid (~21MPG average vs. ~49MPG average and Partial Zero Emissions)

*Reverse-commute from downtown to Ballantyne to work (sadly, telecommuting isn't an option for me).

*Swapping out incandescents with CFLs as they burn out.

*Vegetarian since 1992.

*Only do laundry/dishes when full loads, and only doing those at night.

*Rabid recycler.

*My condo is small at ~740 sq ft, so it doesn't take much to heat/cool.

*Most appliances are EnergyStar.

Granted, its a lot of low-hanging fruit, but each little bit does make a difference.

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  • My wife and I moved so we could be much closer to both of our workplaces

  • We have a garden to help offset the amount of veggies and herbs we have to purchase from the grocery store

  • We time our shopping so that we can stop on the way home from work instead of making a special trip

  • We recycle heavily and fill multiple recycling containers each week

  • I collect recyclable materials from trash bins here at work and have personally placed recycling bins of my own throughout my workplace

  • Every light in our home is a CFL

  • We compost all of our grass clippings, organic scraps, coffee grounds, leaves, etc. to reduce garbage (we typically only have 1-2 small bags of trash each week due to recycling and composting habits)

  • Our home uses natural gas for heating and for our water heater

  • We have a programmable thermostat that basically turns the A/C off during the day and significantly reduces the amount of A/C used overnight

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You guys reminded me of other things I do, which I didn't really consider as air quality items, but indirectly, they are:

- I signed up for a delivery service of organic vegetables and fruit, which buys local and in-season fruit and vegetables (maybe with a few exceptions) and delivers them biweekly. That service was showcased in this week's CBJ. They are much higher quality of organics over the Teet. In fact, the UpTeet only has a small shelving unit, 2 feet tall, with organic veggies.


- I recycle almost to the point of obsession. I actually try to force myself to let go sometimes, and let things go to the garbage just so I don't get the point of my father (who tears those plastic windows off junk mail to recycle it!). We normally bust out of the seams of our recycle bin, but usually have only one bag of garbage every other week. So half the time, I only have recycling out there.

I must confess, though, that even though I have replaced my bulbs with CFLs, I do often forget to turn them off. It is a vice that I think must be another subconscious rebellion from my father, who would follow behind all of his children sometimes just to turn off the lights as we went by. Luckily, that vice is much less of an impact with CFLs over the 19th century incandessant technology.

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My choices were not specifically to reduce the impact on air, but just to establish the lifestyle that I want. This is an interesting topic. I've been doing things out of habit and convenience that I didn't even realize was evironmentally beneficial (like the laptop, dishes, etc). I think the #1 thing that I do is NOT drive everywhere for everything. I take a few trips every week with my car, and I don't drive more than a few miles (everything here has been very convenient). Anyway, here is my list:

I do the following

  • Live in Center City

  • Walk to Work (or)

  • Take bus/trolley to work

  • Switching to CFL lights as old ones die

  • If I drive, I stay within route 4

  • Recycle

  • Laptop

  • Do laundry/dishes when full loads, and usually at night

  • Regularly advocate non-automotive transportation options

    Future plans:

  • Purchase a bike for extended carless range

  • Purchase new TV that uses less energy

Unfortunatley I will never get rid of my car unless High Speed Rail is buillt in our lifetime and connects to Spartanburg, Columbia, and Charleston. I'm not opposed to renting a car for some trips, but for regular travel its just not practical to not have a car. Such is life. Fortunately I don't need it very often here in Charlotte.

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Sheesh I feel like such a leech and I thought I was relatively green friendly. I work from home for my freelance job. I am a dog walker in the afternoons and my clients are all over the city in out of the way places so I do need a car. I walk to as many four legged clients as possible. It's an older Civic. I would love to get a Prius eventually. I walk to eat and shop along East every day mostly to Berrybrook Farm or Talley's. I live in a very old apt house with lots of big windows so I don't have lights on much during the day. We have solar powered walkway lights to the communal front porch I share with the neighboring apt. Being a renter I don't have much control over interior fixtures but make a conscientious effort to have a light footprint where and when I can.

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* I take the RT 12 bus to work part of the time

* I ride my gas sipping scooter to work most the time instead of the car

* Drive the car only for longer errands (groceries, etc) and to work when it rains

* I don't use the barbecue grill anymore

* All unused lights are turned off

* I don't smoke

* Ride the bike or scooter for those really short errands

* use the dishwasher only once a week

* I don't bake very much anymore

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