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Should I drive my daughter the 5.5 miles to her school in my 2006 Toyota Prius, or have her take the school bus? —Meredith, CO Calculations are cold, unfeeling things, and subject to lots of outside factors: Is your daughter’s school on the way to your job, or would you turn around and drive right back home? Would you take the neighbors’ kid along as well? What model is the bus, and would it be full to capacity? Would it retrace its route to a garage between the morning pickups and afternoon dropoffs, or wait near the school? But let’s do some rough estimating. If there are 180 school days in the year, you’re driving 5.5 miles four times a day (twice in the morning, twice in the afternoon), 180 times. That’s 3,960 miles total. According to, a nonprofit online carbon calculator, driving 4,000 miles in your Toyota Prius will produce about 0.65 tons of CO2. Now let’s talk about the bus scenario. Matthew Solomon, Mobile Source Analyst for nonprofit Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM), estimates that the average school bus (carrying 72 students and getting about 7 miles to the gallon) would emit 0.089 tons of CO2 per passenger over the course of 4,000 miles. So no matter how you slice it, the bus is far and away your greenest option. Plus, putting your daughter on the bus at an early age will teach her to support public transportation— especially if you take the time to explain your logic to her.

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student loans, meal plans, housing, and the rising price of watery beer, who wants to shell out a thousand bucks on new books each year? The best thing to do is to start your own program on campus. That way, your 600page astrophysics textbook goes straight into the hands of someone who’s taking the same course next fall, rather than being shipped across the country to some big textbook-rental warehouse and back again. Log on to for tips on starting a campus-textbook recycling program. But there are some useful online options for cheap used-textbook rental as well. Check out, campusbook, or—a rental agency that partnered with a reforestation company called Eco-Libris so that they could plant a tree for every book you rent. Chegg allows for only “minimal highlighting,” and notetaking is off-limits, so keep a separate document as you read—small price to pay for a healthy planet and a heavy wallet, right?

7 whole grains on a mission



Plenty Magazine Issue 23 Aug/Sept 2008  

beyond the bulb> the best Ideas In green desIgn krIstIn gore kIlls her laWn | saIlIng greece | gossIp gIrl’s eco star