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The Green Myth About Electric Cars

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The statement that electric cars are not green may make great headline bait, however it is poor math.  The following is how the argument goes, over and over again.

There are higher manufacturing emissions on electric cars than there are regular cars.  In addition, electricity is used by electric cars, which has a footprint of its own.  When these two factors are put together they form a ‘dirty little secret’ where any climate benefit that electric cars enjoy are negated.  Look at this recent piece from Wired.

So once and for all, let’s clear all of this up.

The juice is what it is all about. 

One of the more irritating things about the articles that discuss electric car emissions is due to how it is always portrayed in a very black and white manner.

There is the ‘zero emissions’ team in one corner and the ‘worse than combustion’ gang in the other.

However, real life, as always, is shades of grey.

Even after the larger manufacturing footprint that an electric car has is taken into account, it is still centres around the fuel mix of whatever power is used.  In other words, ‘the juice.’

Nothing is done to help cut emissions when electric cars use coal powered electricity.  When natural gas electricity is used, it is a top hybrid that uses low carbon power.  This results in less than 50 percent of total emissions from the finest combustion vehicle, including manufacturing.

In a recent study entitled ‘Shades of Green: Electric Cars’ Carbon Emissions Around the Globe,‘ electric car emissions that were grid powered were calculated in twenty countries.  However, there was data for a number of other countries that weren’t included.

So let’s break down the data so that this thing can be put to rest.

Electric Car Emissions Mapped

The map compares carbon footprints for electric driving that uses average grid electricity in approximately 40 countries.  The electricity’s actual carbon intensity that you might use is different than what the national average is for several different reasons.  However, it does make an excellent starting point.

The results are given in grams of the equivalent carbon dioxide per kilometre of a vehicle (g CO2e/km).  Every estimate includes grid losses, upstream fuel production, power station combustion and emissions from automobile manufacturing.

The specifications are based on a complete electric vehicle, which is similar to the Nissan Leaf.  It used each country’s average fuel mix for 2009.  For every country, it has assumed that vehicle manufacturing emissions were 70g CO2e/km, which was based on several studies that the report detailed.

EV Emissions Per Country

Out of the 40 countries that this map covers, emissions vary.  In India, which has heavy coal use, it is 370 g CO2e/km, while in water loving Paraguay is is 70g CO2/km.  Canada’s average is 115g CO2e/km, China’s is 258g Co2e/km and in the US it is 202g CO2e/km.

“In Paraguay nearly all emissions come from manufacturing vehicles, since power is very low carbon.  In India is breaks down as 70g on grid losses, 30g on fuel production, 200g on power plants and 70g on vehicle manufacturing” according to Ian Beevis of Traders Insurance.

The colors from the legend split up the countries into five separate groups, which is based on their carbon intensity.  As can be seen, even once vehicle manufacturing has been included, carbon intensity from driving electric cars differs 5 fold depending on the juice.

For reference purposes, the average gasoline vehicle in the U.S. is at around 300g CO2e/km.  Once fuel production, fuel combustion and vehicle manufacturing is included, a new hybrid may manage 180 g CO2e/km.

Compared with combustion vehicles

Since grams per kilometer is a strange metric it’s very nice converting them into results that are more familiar.  When we work backwards from this data we are able to estimate what kind of regular vehicle (if any) might produce similar emissions.

Let’s refer to this as ‘Emissions equivalent petrol car,’ for lack of a better phrase.

EV emissions equivalent

It is much easier now to get a good grip on the figures.

In coal heavy South Africa, Australia, China and India, electric cars utilizing grid power are similar to typical gasoline vehicles, and are within the 25-30 MPGUS range.  In Italy, Japan, Germany and the UK, they are as good as the finest petrol hybrids, and within the 45-50 MPGUS range. However, in low carbon supply countries like Norway, Switzerland, Brazil and France, they are in an entirely different league, and average well over 100 MPGUS equivalent emissions.

It’s very important to keep in mind that the electricity that you receive may not match what the national average is and there could be several different reasons for this.  The night time intensity may vary, you may have solar panels or you might live in a country such as the United States, where in actuality the grid is really a group of separate grids.  In Colorado, for example, an electric car that is grid powered is equivalent to around 30 MPGUS, while in California it is around 70 MPG.

In the map, for all of the comparisons, the vehicle manufacturing is only 40g CO2e/m for a gasoline car.  For electric vehicles, on the other hand, it is 70g CO2e/m.  That is due to the fact that we have accounted for an electric car’s lower lifetime mileage and greater manufacturing footprint.

Check the full report out if you would like to know more about the details.  Included are comparisons with diesel vehicles, vehicle performance, sensitivities to manufacturing and breakdown of all figures.

Electric vehicles are as green as the juice is

Electric car critics love putting the horse before the cart and talking about manufacturing emissions.  However, they don’t ever appear to offer better solutions ever.  If they happened to be going on about joys of bicycles, electrified public transport or urban densification, than perhaps their critiques might ring true.  However, that isn’t what you hear.

In terms of commercial scale, electric cars are fairly new, and must deal with issues such as charging speed, range and cost.  Improving batteries can help all of them.  Despite that, great hope is offered when it comes to limiting noise pollution, making improvements to local air quality and reducing carbon emissions.

Electric cars are definitely not perfect.  There are numerous ways that they can be critiqued in a valid manner.  However, when it comes to carbon emissions, a gasoline vehicle will be unable to compete with electric cars.  There is no contest.

If an electric car is given the right juice, it will crush combustion engines.

Environment

5 Eco-friendly Appliance Maintenance Tips

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Eco-friendly Appliance
Shutterstock Photos - By Punyhong | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/punyhong

Modern day society is becoming ever more conscious about the effects of human consumption on the environment & the planet.

As a collective, more people are considering taking action to positively counteract their environmental footprint. This is accomplished by cutting down on water consumption, recycling and switching from plastic to more sustainable materials. Although most people forget about the additional things that can be done at home to improve your individual eco footprint.

Appliances, for example, can be overlooked when it comes to helping the environment, despite the fact they are items which are found in every household, and if they are not maintained effectively they can be detrimental to the environment. The longer an appliance is used, the less of an impact it has on the environment, so it is essential for you to keep them well maintained.

If you’re considering becoming more eco-conscious, here are 5 handy appliance maintenance tips to help you.

Don’t Forget to Disconnect From Power First

General maintenance of all your appliances start with disconnecting them from power; microwaves, washing machines and ovens all use residual energy when plugged in, so it’s essential to unplug them.

Disconnecting the plugs can help keep them in their best condition, as it ensures no electrical current is running through them whilst they are supposed to be out of use. Additionally, this can help you save on energy bills. By doing this you are minimising your energy footprint.

Here we break down 4 tips to keep the most popular household appliances maintained.

Eco-Friendly Oven Maintenance

Ovens generally require very little maintenance, although it is essential to stay on top of cleaning.

A simple task to make sure you don’t have any issues in the future is to check the oven door has a tight seal. To do this ensure the oven is cold, open the oven door and use your hands to locate the rubber seal. You can now feel for any tears or breaks. If any have occurred simply replace the seal. More oven tips can be read here.

Eco-Friendly Refrigerator Maintenance

When keeping a fridge in good condition, don’t forget about exterior maintenance. Refrigerator coils, although an external fixture, can cause damage when overlooked.

Refrigerator coils can be found either at the front or rear of a fridge (check you user manual if you are unsure of its location). These tend to accumulate various sources of dust and dirt over a substantial time-period, which clog refrigerator coils, causing the refrigerator to have to work twice as hard to stay cool. An easy tip to solve this is to periodically use a vacuum to get rid of any loose dirt.

Eco-Friendly Washing Machine Maintenance

Most people tend to remember the basics tasks for maintaining a washing machine, such as not to overload the machine, not to slam the door and to ensure the washing machine is on a solid and level platform.

In addition, it is necessary to routinely do a maintenance wash for your washing machine. This means running an empty wash on the highest temperature setting and letting it complete a full wash to erase any build up and residue. You should repeat this task at least once a month.

Try to schedule this task around your bulk wash load times to save on water consumption.

This will help keep your washing machine in peak working condition.

Eco-Friendly Dishwasher Maintenance Tips

Dishwasher maintenance can be simple if implemented after every wash cycle.

To keep your best dishwasher hygiene standards, scrape away excess food whilst making sure to keep the filter at the bottom of the cavity empty between cycles. This simple task can be highly effective at preventing food build up from occurring in your dishwasher.

If you need additional tips or tasks you, can reference your manufacturer’s guidebook to check for a full breakdown. You can also head to Service Force’s extensive database of repair and maintenance manuals – including extensive troubleshooting guides for all of the critical appliance maintenance procedures.

In conclusion, you can save both money and energy by keeping your appliances in peak condition. The steps outlined in this guide will help us all preserve the environment and reduce industrial waste from discarded appliances.

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Environment

Two Ancient Japanese Philosophies Are the Future of Eco-Living

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Eco-Living
Shutterstock Photos - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Our obsession with all things new has blighted the planet. We have a waste crisis, particularly when it comes to plastic. US scientists have calculated the total amount of plastic ever made – 8.3 billion tons! Unfortunately, only 9% of this is estimated to have been recycled. And current global trends point to there being 12 billion tons of plastic waste by 2050.

However, two ancient Japanese philosophies are providing an antidote to the excesses of modern life. By emphasizing the elimination of waste and the acceptance of the old and imperfect, the concepts of Mottainai and Wabi-Sabi have positively influenced Japanese life for centuries.

They are now making their way into the consciousness of the Western mainstream, with an increasing influence in the UK and US. By encouraging us to be frugal with our possessions, (i.e. using natural materials for interior design) these concepts can be the future of eco-living.

What is Wabi-Sabi and Mottainai??

Wabi-Sabi emphasizes an acceptance of transience and imperfection. Although Wabi had the original meaning of sad and lonely, it has come to describe those that are simple, unmaterialistic and at one with nature. The term Sabi is defined as the “the bloom of time”, and has evolved into a new meaning: taking pleasure and seeing beauty in things that are old and faded. 

Any flaws in objects, like cracks or marks, are cherished because they illustrate the passage of time. Wear and tear is seen as a representation of their loving use. This makes it intrinsically linked to Wabi, due to its emphasis on simplicity and rejection of materialism.

In the West, Wabi-Sabi has infiltrated many elements of daily life, from cuisine to interior design. Specialist Japanese homeware companies, like Sansho, source handmade products that embody the Wabi-Sabi philosophy. Their products, largely made from natural materials, are handcrafted by traditional Japanese artisans – meaning no two pieces are the same and no two pieces are “perfect” in size or shape.

Mottainai

Mottainai is a term expressing a feeling of regret concerning waste, translating roughly in English to either “what a waste!” or “Don’t waste!”. The philosophy emphasizes the intrinsic value of a resource or object, and is linked to hinto animism, the notion that all objects have a spirit, or ‘kami’. The idea that we are part of nature is a key part of Japanese psychology.

Mottainai also has origins in Buddhist philosophy. The Buddhist monastic tradition emphasizes a life of frugality, to allow us to concentrate on attaining enlightenment. It is from this move towards frugality that a link to Mottainai as a concept of waste can be made.

How have Wabi-Sabi and Mottainai promoted eco living?

Wabi-Sabi is still a prominent feature of Japanese life today, and has remained instrumental in the way people design their homes. The ideas of imperfection and frugality are hugely influential.

For example, instead of buying a brand-new kitchen table, many Japanese people instead retain a table that has been passed through the generations. Although its long use can be seen by various marks and scratches, Wabi-Sabi has taught people that they should value it because of its imperfect nature. Those scratches and marks are a story and signify the passage of time. This is a far cry from what we typically associate with the Western World.

Like Wabi Sabi, Mottainai is manifested throughout Japanese life, creating a great respect for Japanese resources. This has had a major impact on home design. For example, the Japanese prefer natural materials in their homes, such as using soil and dried grass as thermal insulation.

Their influence in the UK

The UK appears to be increasingly influenced by thes two concepts. Some new reports indicate that Wabi Sabi has been labelled as ‘the trend of 2018’. For example, Japanese ofuro baths inspired the project that won the New London Architecture’s 2017 Don’t Move, Improve award. Ofuro baths are smaller than typical baths, use less water, and are usually made out of natural materials, like hinoki wood.

Many other UK properties have also been influenced by these philosophies, such as natural Kebony wood being applied to the external cladding of a Victorian property in Hampstead; or a house in Lancaster Gate using rice paper partitions as sub-dividers. These examples embody the spirit of both philosophies. They are representative of Mottainai because of their use of natural resources to discourage waste. And they’re reflective of Wabi-Sabi because they accept imperfect materials that have not been engineered or modified.

In a world that is plagued by mass over-consumption and an incessant need for novelty, the ancient concepts of Mottainai and Wabi-Sabi provide a blueprint for living a more sustainable life. They help us to reduce consumption and put less of a strain on the planet. This refreshing mindset can help us transform the way we go about our day to day lives.

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