Jul 24, 2008

Where does your gas money go?

This chart shows where the cost of gasoline at the pump comes from as a percentage. This is not based on biofuel cost, but odds are that it would look fairly similar, since most costs are fixed. A fixed cost doesn't change when the price of fuel changes. Taxes, production, gas station and distribution costs are all generally fixed numbers. For example:
  • In Oregon, every gallon of fuel has $0.484 of State and Federal Road Tax on it, regardless of price.
When the price of fuel at the pump is high, credit card fees and crude prices take a larger slice of the pie.

Not shown: where geographically gas money goes. Oregon has zero oil refineries, but several biofuel production plants. It is very difficult (if not impossible) to track where individual gallons of petrol come from - it all gets pooled together in giant tanks before being distributed. That said, according the the Energy Information Administration, the US imports 55% of all petroleum it uses.

Jul 16, 2008

What irrigated crop takes up three times more US landmass than corn?

What irrigated crop takes up three times more US landmass than corn?
Look no farther than your front lawn.

This is a story that was released a few years ago, but is still very relevant: people's lawns are slurping up a huge amount of water, fertilizer and herbicides, but giving very little back.

I'm going to try to keep this post from going too much into the benefits of urban gardens, and I know it leaves out those who live in apartments, but the impact of your (or your landlord's) lawn is something you should consider:
  • If you water your lawn, what time of day is it - think of evaporation.
  • If you water your lawn, is there runoff onto your driveway or sidewalk?
  • Could your lawn be doing more? Food, flowers and grass alternatives all make more of a positive impact than a lawn.
This is not to say that you should not have a lawn altogether - it is a very nice luxury - but think about how much water you use (dried out grass doesn't need to be mowed!) and if there are any areas in your yard that would work for flowers, bushes, vegetables or berries.

The world is facing many macro issues and quite honestly sometimes it makes you feel a bit helpless. But, as they say, change starts at home, and your personal water / land usage can make a positive impact on the world.

Other tips for saving water:
  • Turn off the faucet while shaving or brushing your teeth
  • Wash only full loads of dishes and laundry
  • Fix dripping and leaking faucets and toilets
  • Take shorter showers
  • Wash cars less frequently
  • Water lawns and gardens on alternate evenings, not every day
  • Raise your lawn mower blade height; longer grass needs less water

Get involved: Growing Gardens Portland
Bonus further reading: Sowing the Seeds of Urban Farming.

Jul 1, 2008

Encore Oils

Encore Oils
SeQuential is proud to announce the startup of Encore Oils, a subsidiary of SeQuential-Pacific Biodiesel. Encore Oils collects used cooking oil, serving restaurants and businesses in the Pacific Northwest.

Restaurants used to have to pay to get rid of their used cooking oil – now Encore Oils will buy it by the gallon! All collected oil will be taken to Salem to be processed into high quality Oregon-Made Biodiesel. For more information: www.EncoreOils.com.