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Not Your Father’s Chevy: Playing with the Chevy Volt

By Green Diva Meg thegreendivas.com
May 15, 2013
File under: Lifestyle, Transportation

green divas pose with the chevy voltMaybe I’m just a fickle gal, but it seems that I fall in love with the last car I test drive. The Chevy Volt is my 4th week-long review ride, and as of now, it is at the top of my real-world, eco-ride list. Sandy totaled two of our cars (with one tree!), and my daughter has the one that was salvageable at college, so I’ve been taking my time doing research on my next vehicle. Being a Green Diva has its advantages . . .

It seems like most car manufacturers are coming out with some type of EV, hybrid or plug-in hybrid. Most of them are still concept cars, but worse, many of them are only ‘compliance’ cars designed to fulfill California emissions requirements so the car company can continue to sell cars in that enormous market. Sadly, compliance cars are extremely small production runs and usually aren’t available to the rest of the US. Bummer.

What’s a Green Diva to do? Fortunately, companies like GM are serious, and proving it with the Volt.

Great 2-part video chat with John Voelcker, Sr. Editor of GreenCarReports.com on compliance cars from last year:

Part 1: John Voelcker does a 101 on compliance cars

Part 2: John voelcker talks about which cars are and which cars aren’t compliance cars

The good news is that the Volt is NOT a compliance car and they have been out long enough to have a significant track record on the road. I’ve talked about them for a couple of years with John Voelcker and other green car experts and the ruling has always been positive. So, I was glad to have a chance to really play with this car and consider it seriously as the next GD mobile!

My dream is to have a car that will run primarily on electricity with a small gas engine as back-up for longer trips. Sounds like a Volt, right? I had driven the Prius plug-in hybrid and the Ford C-Max Energi, which are both great little cars in many ways, but as it turns out, charging from my house (as it stands without a 220 station) didn’t give either of them enough juice to run without using the gas reserves on a daily basis.

I work from home and live where I can walk to town and aside from occasional trips to New York, I really only need the car for local travel during the week.

So far, the Volt is the only car that has answered this dream of gas-less driving. I didn’t use a drop of gasoline the entire week I had the Volt! Now, if I were to every purchase or lease this car, I would definitely consider a 220 charging station because it did take over 12 hours the first time I charged it . . . (note the ‘charge by’ time is 3:30am – this shot was taken at about 11am, so it’s expected time to fully charge was well over 12 hours.)

Chevy Volt charging details - day 1 with green diva meg

That was only the first day because they guy that brought it, had completely drained the battery and even depleted the gas as he had to drive over 60 miles to drop the car off. The rest of the time, it charged easily overnight — being plugged in after dinner and ready to go first thing in the morning, which would mostly be my schedule.

It was a little strange never hearing the gas engine kick in, but I rather liked that part.

Generally, the car is a very smooth ride (and is exactly what every single person that got in it said almost right away), and more powerful than you imagine an electric engine to be. I didn’t take it on the highway till day 4 and was very tentative about passing a big truck in a healthy volume of traffic, but the car quietly, but powerfully accelerated without a moment’s hesitation. I expected the battery meter to drain quickly, but it did not move. Hmmm. Really not what I was expecting — in a good way.

This particular model was missing a couple of the bells and whistles that I’ve gotten very attached to — electric seats with memory settings and beeping reverse and front bumper sensors. The former a luxury my husband and I love because we are a foot difference in height, so you can imagine how vastly different our driving settings are; the latter just a helpful crutch that I’ve gotten accustomed to using for the past 6 years, and it felt strange NOT to have those little beepy helpers.

Like all hybrids and electrics, the Volt has its own graphic drive train that helps illustrate in real-time when you are draining the battery and when you are recharging it. And like the others, it offers other graphic displays in the driver’s view that are designed to help retrain how we drive in order to drive more eco-friendly, and ultimately take advantage of the electric/hybrid engine. There was a wonderful little green ball graphic that rotates with leaves happily when you are in the eco ‘sweet spot’ and changes color and loses the leaves when you are not.

Every time you turn the car off, the main display would offer this detailed report . . .

chevy volt driving details dashboard

I was very pleased with this car, and because of my ability to drive without using any gasoline, this could now be at the top of the list for new official Green Diva vehicle. That and the fact that the interior was aesthetically pleasing, comfortable and the sound system rocked (a prerequisite for any serious car contenders).

chevy volt music dashboard

and Green Diva Gracie gives it her paw print of approval too . . .

green diva gracie in the chevy volt

 

 
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Nemo, Non-GMO Valentine’s Day & More Winter Fun

By Green Diva Meg thegreendivas.com
February 13, 2013
File under: Eco-Friendly Activities, Family, Food, Holidays, Lifestyle, Projects, Sustainable Practices, Transportation

When did we start naming winter storms, and who the heck came up with this name anyway? Hard to think about a cute little colorful fish whipping the Northeast into such a frenzy. I don’t generally panic when it comes to snow storms – have lived in NJ or New England for my entire life. I feel like an old geezer, “I remember the blizzard of ’93 . . . we had 3 feet of snow and there were 7 foot snow drifts up against the doors and windows . . . ”

My husband and I LOVE a good snow storm, so we were almost disappointed that we only got a foot of snow!

The only bummer is that I’m in the middle of a week-long test drive of the adorable and surprisingly lovable Ford C-Max Energi and while I’m not the least bit worried about driving in the snow – in MY OWN car – I didn’t want to take any chances with someone else’s car. Not everyone is confident or skilled at driving in the snow and even if I am a particularly good snow-driver, there are those times when the dope with the rear-wheel tank applies the breaks at the wrong time and you find yourself helpless as you see one of these vehicles with their driver’s wide-eyed surprise sliding sideways towards you . . . ahhhhhh. Nope. Keeping this little cute car safely parked till we get the roads cleared up properly.

But, before Nemo, we had a particularly awesome show with an all-girl Green Diva studio. Unfortunately Green Dude Eco-Ed Schwartz, who was supposed to be IN the studio with us for the first time, couldn’t make it because he was too busy driving the porcelain bus (icky flu and we thanked him for not trying to be stoic and for staying home!). Sorry Ed! Feel better soon! But we got to talk to Green Diva Correspondent Maggie Miller from Georgia about the amazing eco-community of Serenbe near Atlanta.

Just before the show, we all got a treat and got to go cruising in the Ford C-Max Energi GD Meg’s been sporting around in this week.

Our only hit of testosterone came in the form of our wonderful friend and green dude, Rodman Schley, host of the TV series, The Urban Conversion. Rodman called in to talk about their fantastic adventure to the White House!

Listen to the full podcast of this week’s Green Divas Radio Show 2.7.13

or read the highlights below

Want to avoid V-Day candy with GMOs?

With Valentines Day upon us its pretty hard to escape all those heart-shaped, pink and red candies. While they may seem temping, many of them contain GMOs. GMO Inside is leading the push to get Hersey and Mars to stop making candy with GMOs in 2013, or at least to start labeling their products as containing GMOs.

GMO Inside is a coalition of businesses and organizations that support a healthy, GMO-free food system. Their most recent campaign is aimed at Hersey and Mars, that combined comprise nearly 70 percent of the U.S. chocolate market. Both companies have also spent more than a million dollars to oppose GMO labeling in California in the November 2012 election.

Because GMO corn, sugar and soy, which are commonly used for many of Hershey’s and Mars candy products, it may be wise to avoid them if you are trying to minimize or eliminate your consumption of GMOs.

Here are a couple of popular Valentine’s Day candies that contain GMOs:

  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Filled Hearts – BUMMER*
  • Hershey Hugs
  • Valentine’s colored M&M’s
  • Valentine’s Snickers

GMO Inside released a Valentine’s Day Villains shopping guide for consumers who want to avoid giving GMO treats to their honeys.

*GD Meg makes her own – here’s her favorite recipe for homemade GF peanut butter cups

Read GD Meg’s post with 9 Ways to Have a Healthy, Green & Low-Stress Valentine’s Day– whether you are in a relationship or not!

Green Diva Correspondent: Maggie Miller

Our Green Diva Correspondent this week Maggie Miller, who called in from Georgia. GD Maggie is a fabulous artist who’s philosophy is to keep her art eco-friendly and sustainable. Some of her designs are in the form of reclaimed and beautifully painted old furniture. See her work on her Etsy site.

GD Maggie told us about the wonderful and interesting town of Serenbe in the heart of Chattahoochee Hill Country, which is about 40,000 acres of rural Georgia and pretty much the last undeveloped stretches of land in the Atlanta area. The founders of Serenbe realized that they had 1,000 acres, which would allowed them the opportunity to create a conscious community — an eco-village that harkins back to the simpler days and is designed for small community living.

This community bases itself on being completely sustainable. According to their website they hold the notion that a community is a living part of its natural surroundings, not something to be at nature’s expense.

One of the coolest parts to this eco-haven is Serenbe Farms — a 25-acre working, organic farm which provides organic produce throughout Atlanta and also to the local restaurants of Serenbe.

The Green Divas Go Cruisin’

GD Meg’s had a special ride this week from the smart folks at Ford, who thought she would look adorable and probably fall in love with their new C-Max Energi. This C-Max is a plug-in hybrid and indeed Ford will have a hard time taking this car back!

Check out GD Meg’s posts her experience with this Ford C-Max Energi:

Green Diva Road Trip- Ford C-Max Review 1: First Date

Green Diva Road Trip- Ford C-Max Review 2: Getting to Know You

Today the rest of us Green Divas got to join in on the fun.  Green Diva Mizar took the wheel and went joy riding around Boonton Township. Green Diva Meg, Mizar, and Jamie all agreed that this was one cool car.

Video of GD Mizar Driving the Ford C-Max

The car also drove well — it had great pick up and was super quiet. The coolest feature was its backing up camera which shows you through lines exactly where to go and to not go. So, for all you people who can’t back up to save their lives this is the car you need to get.

Fun GD video of Ford C-Max Reverse AssistanceReverse

 

 

GD Mizar’s DIY: Coat Rack from Fallen Tree Limbs

This week Green Diva (and re-purposing queen) Mizar gave us a great way to use all those fallen tree limbs — thank you new stormy climate! This has been the year of the storms and trees suffer many casualties. GD Mizar’s DIY this week offers one solution by giving instructions on how to make coat racks out of fallen branches. To learn more see GD Mizar’s latest DIY post on making a coat rack from fallen tree branches.

Listen to the fun 5-min podcast about this GD Mizar DIY coat rack project!

Feature Interview: Rodman Schley

The host of Urban Conversion (and one of our favorite semi-regular guests), Rodman Schley called-in this week to update us on his recent trip to the White House. Rodman along with his wife and kids were given a tour by the White House Assistant Chef, Sam Kass who is also the Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives at the White House. Rodman informed us that only a small portion of the vegetables and fruits grown in the White House Garden are served to the President and his family. Most of it is donated to Miriams Kitchen, a local D.C. soup kitchen. The idea is that everyone should have the same access to the same kinds of food no matter what their socio-economic background is.

Rodman and The Urban Conversion will be screening the one hour White House episode at the Environmental Film Festival in Colorado on February 22. Episodes of The Urban Conservationist will be airing this Spring on PBS.

Listen to the full podcast of this week’s Green Divas Radio Show 2.7.13

 

 
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Tips for Driving Greener: Save Money & Help the Planet

By Green Diva Meg thegreendivas.com
January 24, 2013
File under: Eco-Friendly Activities, Saving Money, Sustainable Practices, Transportation


 
On the heels of the big annual North American International Auto Show in Detroit, It’s fun to think about the possibility of getting a new car. I realize that in a perfectly green world, I would walk or ride my bicycle or take mass transit everywhere, but that just isn’t a workable reality where I am, so . . . The Detroit auto show and my participation in it were timely this year, because I am in fact looking for a new car as mine was trashed by a large oak tree during Sandy. In the midst of researching the greenest, most reliable, affordable and attainable cars available to me, my head is spinning and meanwhile I’m happily sharing my husband’s fancy Lexus Hybrid.

Read about the Green Divas in Detroit and see a few fun pics.

It is easy to get caught up in the idea of a shiny new car, but I wanted to remember some simple ways we can make whatever car we are currently driving a little greener and save some money while we’re at it!

Watch my segment on Ebru Today where I talk about driving greener . . .
 

 


6 simple tips for driving greener

1  Of Idle Minds & Idle Cars

When you’re idling, you get zero miles per gallon. That’s right. Nothing. Nada. Zippo. If you think you will wait more than 30 seconds, turn it off!

2  Pump it Up

Underinflated tires can cost you 1-2 mpg! Check your tires once a month; your owner’s manual will show you the recommended air pressure. Some cars even have a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb or on the inside of the fuel door. Get a decent air pressure gauge or fill your tires with 100% nitrogen – it keeps the tires at the proper air pressure longer than regular air.

3  Chill on the Gas & the Brakes and Cruise Baby

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, accelerating or decelerating too fast can lower your fuel economy by as much as 33% on the highway and 5% in the city! Don’t do a “jackrabbit” start when the light turns green. Use steady and smooth pressure on the gas pedal. Also, avoid heavy braking — anticipate upcoming red lights and coast to stop. Use cruise control when possible.

4  Slow Down!

The sweet spot for fuel economy is between 40 and 60 mph. The faster you drive, the more energy is needed to overcome the aerodynamic drag, causing your gas mileage to decrease by about 5 mpg for every 10 mph you go over 60 mph.

5  Lose Weight

An extra 100 pounds in your car can lower your fuel economy by 2% – wow! Guess I should lose those extra pounds, huh? Also, avoid a loaded roof rack, which can decrease your fuel economy by 5%.

6  Be Smart and Plan Errands and Trips

This may seem obvious, but it’s something that a lot of people don’t do. If you know where you’re going, you can shave off several miles off your trip. Also, when it’s cold outside, combine several short trips into one because a cold engine will decrease your fuel economy.

These tips are derived with permission from EarthGarage‘s original article, 6 Green Driving Techniques.



 

 
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Electric Cars: Real v. Compliance Cars {video}

By Green Diva Meg thegreendivas.com
May 23, 2012
File under: Environmental Concerns, Sustainable Practices, Transportation

You’re probably aware that there are a lot of new electric cars coming out. Thanks to California zero-emissions regulations, which have been adopted by several states in the northeast as well as the northwest, many car manufacturers have incentive to create new zero-emission electric cars. Good right?

Well . . . If you listen to this interview, which is the first of our 2-part series with our favorite green car dude, John Voelcker, editor of GreenCarReports.com, you begin to separate the real from the marketing hype.

Here’s Part 1: What is a Compliance Car?

In Part 2, John names names . . . Watch Part 2 HERE!

More from ecomii:

 

 
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6 Low-Stress Ways to be a Better Eco-Citizen in 2012

By Green Diva Meg thegreendivas.com
January 4, 2012
File under: Culture, Eco-Friendly Activities, Energy Efficiency, Environmental Concerns, Family, Food, Goals, Home, Lifestyle, Recycling, Saving Money, Stress Management, Transportation, Waste Reduction

 

GD Meg & Hubby Experiencing a California Sunset

Why Should We Care? by Green Diva Meg
These posts explore a myriad of topics relating to green, sustainable and healthy living and offer simple and clear information from the fun and quirky point of view of the Green Divas. Each post provides practical, no nonsense information on What Can We Do to make a difference.

 

This post isn’t exactly a “Why Should We Care.” It’s more “Hints on How To.” I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, but my husband and I have gotten into an annual habit of reviewing the year that is passing and imagining the year ahead. While we prefer to dwell on the winning moments of the past, we take the time to focus on areas that could use some improvement and strategize ways to manifest better versions of ourselves in the coming year. Always keeping in mind advice from some wise friends – progress, not perfection.

Here are a few ways we will be improving our green diva (and green dude) status in 2012:

…read more of 6 Low-Stress Ways to be a Better Eco-Citizen in 2012 here

 
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