Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day: Resources used on the road

As I was doing my laundry today and listening to the Earth Day news at the laundromat I started thinking about the resources I use and how they compare to when I lived in an apartment.  How I can modify to use less resources.  So here is a run down.

I use less than a gallon of water a day.  If I use an entire gallon I have drank, cooked, washed my hair, and shaved my legs.  If I cook and drink it is probably about 3/4 and if I just drink it is a little more than 1/2.  I know... totally not enough water intake for the day... working on that.

I do laundry every other week.  One load in the wash and then split it to 2 for the dryer.  That is just clothes.  I wash blankets and sheets every other time or so... just depends on how motivated I am. :)

I charge my computer and ipad 3 times a week at the local library.  I can charge the ipad with my solar panel but it was cloudy for a few days and I accidentally ran down the battery so the solar panels won't work until I charge it up with a 110 or 30 amp.  I charge smaller electronics like my cell phone and ipod with a smaller solar panel that they plug directly into with a 12v adapter.

I plug in TicTac on occasion... I will at the next place I can.  Since January I have only charged TicTac once before leaving my house sitting gig.  Since then I have been using my solar panel.

Trash wise I may fill up a Walmart bag in 2 days... Mainly because of the packaging from food.  And also the gallon jugs the water comes in.

Gas wise I get around 40mpg.  Since January my goal is to spend less than $20 on gas a week.  I have a 5 gallon tank and usually fill up at 100 to 120 miles and it is almost never a full tank... unless I have been driving in the steep mountains.  Then there is the oil change and tires.  I change oil and the rear tire of Blue every 5000 miles.  I wish I could find a better tire that can handle the load but haven't just yet.  The front tire can go twice as long and the trailer tires, once I got good tires, should last quite some time.  Then other maintenance when needed.

I clean Blue and TicTac at a car wash every few months... and that is if they are completely dirty... at this moment TicTac has had bird poo on her for weeks... so need to clean her for all the pictures I take. :)  Probably the most wasteful thing I do on the road.

So how do I want to be more efficient...

First, I want to get some reusable water bladders and finding places I can fill up.  In the desert they usually have water kiosk things where you can put in a couple dollars and get so much water... not sure where to go outside of that.  I haven't researched too much yet.  That will get rid of the waste of the gallon bottles.

Second, I need to get better with the solar panel.  When riding during the day I loose all of that energy because it is not attached to TicTac.  I would like to find a way to attach solar panels to TicTac and a little more power so I don't have times where the battery gets too low.  I only have a 60 Watt solar panel that plugs into TicTac and it isn't enough to charge my computer unless I am in the desert and it is sunny all day.  The computer has to be off and it could take 5+ hours for it to charge when it is almost dead.  Maybe a larger battery in TicTac would also be helpful but I would have to modify TicTac to hold a larger battery.

Third, my dream is to make Blue a biodiesel hybrid of some sort.  Using pure vegetable oil and getting a bit of energy from the sun. I would get more mpg and I would be using a renewable resource... if I could find a way to power Blue using trash like the DeLorean in Back To The Future that would be ultimate!! and... it would take care of the trash waste I have.

One thing I have to work on is when I stay in a house.  It is hard to realize the resources you use when they are readily available.  It sure is nice to take a long, hot shower... and to wash multiple loads before I hit the road again... plugging in TicTac so I can watch a movie, run the fan, lights and charge my ipad all at the same time... and when it is cold to have heat.  I am always aware of the light usage in a house but I almost never turn on my lights in TicTac so turning on a light in every room I'm in seems quite wasteful.  Then you have the heating and cooling of the home... which now I don't even know how to use anymore.  I usually open a window or add more layers.  Then you have the electric resources of refrigeration, cooking, running water, electronics, all those things to keep the house clean and so many other things that I have completely forgotten about.  Oh, and don't forget about the water to flush a toilet... Since being back on the road I probably use a flushing toilet three or four times a week.... not three or four times a day.  Or the water used to wash dishes, water the lawn and plants, clean the dog, car and whatever else.

I would of never realized all the resources I used living in an apartment or house but living on the road changed the way I think.  I don't have anything that is readily available.  I have to make the effort for everything.  This had made me think about why I use a resource and how I can use less.


  1. Drop your battery at a garage and ask them to charge it up all day. Maybe it will cost you a couple bucks. Good to do that on cloudy days while you are running errands.