Liking the Bike

Today I am hoping to convince you to at least entertain the thought of at least considering the idea of getting a bicycle if you haven’t already. (If I don’t do it today then I must certainly will when I show you my upcycling project…hopefully…maybe…)

This just about says it all.

I only rode my bike for about a week before I stopped, so that I could adorn it. That took longer than expected.

I haven’t worked out the kinks in the routine that I have, but I’m sure I’ll still look bad when I say this anyway. The house I’m riding from is only like 1.5 miles using the major roads. The city’s roads are basically made for cars. The city has sidewalks, share the road signs, but there aren’t any designated bike lanes that are for bikes only (I think we may be getting some though). I choose the sidewalks. I’m so slow and I’m terrified of riding in the street. Therefore, I choose the sidewalks. Because of this choice I have to wait for the walking signs to turn green, (I’ve seen people who use the sidewalks, but go when the cars going the same direction go. Maybe I’ll start doing this.) which seems to take more than a few rounds before it’s ever my turn. It takes about 30 minutes for me to get to school and put up my bike. Thirty minutes for 1.5 miles and it takes about the same time for me to go 2 or so miles and take less busy intersections. It takes me about 10-15 minutes to drive, a few minutes to find a parking place and then about 15 minutes for me to leisurely stroll to my class. I always leave the house about an hour early because I do not want to be rushed in any sort of way and that’s why I let myself take 15 minutes to take to class.

I don’t have a lot of time to work out anymore and when I don’t get my cardio in I don’t feel the greatest. I am not fit by any means, but that little bit of exercise does wonders. My bike rides take that problem out of the equation. If it takes me thirty minutes to get to class, no matter what, then I might as well multitask and get the most effective 30 minutes I can. I could gawk around or pick my nose at a stop light or I could get a work out. On my way home, unfortunately that’s when I’m exhausted, but I still have several hills that I must conquer first. These hills aren’t ginormous and they seem like ant hills to some, but for a newbie like myself, they’re no walk in the park. Summer tends to suck the life right out of me, so hopefully in the fall and winter they might be so bad, but for now there is nothing like being exhausted and still conquering that one last hill before I collapse and (or the first time I go to the top of that hill without breaking a sweat). I have no choice. It’s either do it or sleep in the bathroom on campus. And not being able to use my tiredness as an excuse is pretty motivating.

It is also a therapeutic exercise because you’re being connected to nature and being outside. Some don’t like the gym atmosphere where they’re running or biking, never going anywhere or staring at a wall. Running on concrete may not be comfortable, so biking provides a solution for both and it burns 500 calories an hour. And you get the added bonus of never being stuck in a traffic jam. We don’t have huge traffic jams here, but still it’s nice to be the one going while they’re stuck.

Driving a car is expensive. You have the gas, the tires, the repairs, the replacements, on and on. I save a little less than a fourth of a tank, which isn’t as much as I want, but I go home on the weekends and that’s a 2 hour drive. Still I save about $8 just for the gas.

It also saves money for taxpayers if enough people ride because they don’t have to worry about as many road repairs.

Biking is perfect if you have a co-carpooler that never wants to pay their half because then you can just ditch them and ride for free.

My favorite part is not having to circle around five times looking for a parking spot. It makes just about the whole ride, uphills and downhills, pretty worth it.

You don’t need a loan or a lifetime of savings to get a new bike and then worry about the repairs that you have to make four months later. I got my bike for $50 on craiglist. It wasn’t the prettiest bike ever, but I knew it would get me to where I needed, so I got some stuff (I’ll take about this project soon) for about $30 and made it better. So for about $80 I got myself a pretty decent bike. You can’t even get a car tire for that much.

Those are my reasons for riding a bike. For those that can’t even afford a car it also provides a reasonably priced solution. It may not be practical for everyone, but it could provide an easy solution for some.

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The Cost of Eating Meat

Here’s the thing:  June 24-30 is animal abuse awareness week. I did not know this and therefore am unprepared, content wise, emotionally and mentally. I’ve been thinking about covering this topic for a while, but haven’t really known where to start or how to get across everything that I want to. Since there is no time like the present, I will try to do my best to get some decent posts out about this subject.  I’m not vegetarian and I am certainly not vegan. I wish I could be. If no one cooked for me or if only I cooked for myself then I could do it no problem. Yeah, sometimes I would crave it, but I’ve craved donuts for years now and will power is an amazing thing. I can’t force the people I live with to rearrange their lives around mine. At restaurants there are very, very few options for vegetarians and no options for vegans. My favorite dishes I can no longer eat, but I can’t replace it with anything that is hardly considered a meal. If I’m lucky I can find a boring quesadilla. Sometimes I’m lucky and I can just get my favorite salad with an interesting dressing and just ask for no meat, but sometimes that even goes wrong and I find little bits of chicken from where they forgot and at the last second picked the pieces out.

I think people who eat meat are selfish. No matter what the reason is. I’m selfish. And I hate it. I hate being selfish, but as long as I choose to pick people’s feelings over lives then I guess that is a hate I’ll have to try not to choke myself with.

With that being said I’m not going to be your traditional vegetarian/vegan. I’d like to be, but A) that would make me a hypocrite because I eat meat and B) it’s highly unrealistic for me to expect that no matter what logic I try to show you or pictures I show you, you will decide to never touch another animal product as long as you should live. Instead, I’m going to beg you to give me just a few more minutes of your time, so that I can share with you some reasons that you should just eat LESS meat if not give it up entirely.

Money Cost. There is different variations to these experiments. What city you’re shopping in, how much you eat, etc. I didn’t use any pro-vegetarian sites for this argument because I figure they have a reason to be biased. Some said you could save money and some said it was more expensive. I think the deciding factor is exactly what you’re buying. That fake meat stuff, or dairy substitutes I think are what make a vegetarian diet more expensive. Also, if you think of how much money you could end up spending on hospital bills due to unhealthy habits then there really is no comparison.

When comparing just fruits, vegetables, and nuts to meat, the savings are pretty noticeable.

Cost/lb Corn- .043

Soybeans-.093

Wheat-.086

Peanuts-.021

Pork-.069

Beef-1.228

Broilers-.471

Milk-.206

http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/55529/2/lusk%20-%20current.pdf

http://20somethingfinance.com/cost-of-vegetarian-diet/

Humanitarian Cost.

Twenty million people will die this year as a result of malnutrition. If Americans reduced their intake of meat by 10%, 100 million more people could be fed by the land that was freed. Only 20% of the corn grown in the U.S. is eaten by people. The other 80% is fed to livestock. Ninety-five percent of the oats grown in the U.S. is fed to livestock. By cycling grain through livestock, 90% of protein is wasted. Forty thousand  pounds of potatoes can be grown on one acre, but only 250 pounds of beef can be produced on that same acre and fifty-six percent of our land is devoted to beef production. Sixteen pounds of grain and soybeans are needed to produce one pound of edible flesh from feedlot beef.  Just to point out, grass-fed beef still takes land to grow, but they feed off the land that they are on instead of needing additional land to grow grain.

Percentage of US farmland devoted to beef production: 56
http://www.consumercide.com/js/index.php/food-supply/39-necessarily-vegetarian/379-how-to-win-an-argument-with-a-meat-eater

Health Costs

Vegetarians have lower rates of heart disease heart disease, colorectal, ovarian, and breast cancers, diabetes, obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure). This could be attributed to the fact that the vegetarian diet usually involves a diet low in fat and high in fiber. These affects could be negated when their diet is high in fat or includes excessive amounts of fatty snack foods or fried foods.

There are many benefits of eating meat. It does have things that we need, but these aren’t things that can’t be found non-meat food.  For the most part, these things include protein, zinc, and B vitamins. All of which can be found in several different kinds of vegetables.

Calcium and Vitamin D deficiencies can arise in a vegan diet, but surprisingly study participants did not suffer from osteoporosis which typically related to inadequate intakes of these micro-nutrients.

Not only are vegetables healthier in way of nutrients, but they also don’t require waste or antibiotics to be streamed into our water supply. Which can then lead to our food supply. Ever hear of a recall of produce because E. Coli? You can thank the meat industry. Because the animals are always crammed together, diseases run rampant throughout the feedlots. Antibiotics are used. Those antibiotics are in our food and water supply and are now contributing to antibiotic resistant strings of bacteria.

Environmental Costs.

Worldwide, over 284 million tons of meat was consumed. As Americans, we eat 8 ounces a day which is twice the global average. As Americans, we also represent about 5% of the world population, but as we process and consume 10 billion animals a year, we are representing about 15% of the meat consumption.

About 30% of the ice-free land is dedicated to the meat industry and gives off 1/5 of the greenhouse gases which is more than transportation.

Or, you could also say 2.2 pounds of beef is responsible for the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the average European car every 155 miles, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days.

Farm animals produce 16.6 billion tons of excrement per year. That is more than a million pounds per second (that’s 60 times as much as is produced by the world’s human population.) For the UN, animal agriculture is a leading case of water pollution.

Farm animals and water needed to irrigate the crops to feed them are responsible for consuming 240 trillion gallons per year or 7.5 million gallons per second.

It takes more than 11 times as much fossil fuel to make one calorie of animal protein as it does to make one calorie of plant protein.

The meat industry is also responsible for soil erosion, 40 billion tons per year to be exact.

http://www.alternet.org/environment/137737/13_breathtaking_effects_of_cutting_back_on_meat/

All is not lost though. Click here for some solutions.

Success!

Man, I had such a productive day yesterday.

First, my mom and I took our recycling to the center. I’ve been collecting wine corks to make cork boards, but it takes quite a lot just to make a decent sized one and it’s hard to find them around here because not very many people drink wine here. I’ve been asking restaurants, but they only give me four or five a week. So when I saw that they were having a wine festival I knew I couldn’t give up that opportunity. I had called the guy, who was running the event last week to explain and ask him if I could come, but he didn’t remember me nor did he understand what I was asking for. I had expected this would happen, so I made sure to get their early before it got all chaotic and busy.  That was the next thing we did. We dropped off some containers so the different wineries could put their wine corks in them. Since I’m under 21 he had some other guy go with me around to the different tables. He explained everything for me which made my time there a lot less stressful (I’m terrible at explaining what I’m wanting. I don’t know why, but no one ever seems to get it.) I told them I would come get them later.

Then we went dumpster diving. We went to several places down town, mostly to see what was in them. I didn’t need anything, but I just like to know for future reference and just in case I find something that I know someone else could use. We saw a cabinet, a tire, a vintage suitcase, and what looked to be a cardboard thing that carpet gets rolled on and we kept that for the kids. We did our first round at the mall. We haven’t gone before because mall security is always driving around, but this time we braved it and just did it quickly. We mostly found boxes, but we did find a computer monitor. I’m not sure if it works or not, but I have a pretty exciting plan for it anyways.

After we ate lunch and went to Wal-Mart (my worst nightmare) we went dumpster diving again. It was an electrical supply store that was by another place we had to stop at, so it was just a random decision.  I’m not 100 percent sure what we found, actually I have no idea what it was, but it had all these wires sticking out and there was about 50 lone wires that were in the bottom. We’ve decided that anytime we find electronics or wires that we’re going to strip the copper from them and sell it. We were pretty excited by our find.

Later in the day I went back to get my corks. I got a pretty good bag full; not as much as I wanted, but more than I would have gotten in like half a year of just restaurants alone so I’m grateful for it.

We have five cats that spend the day time outside and then come into the garage at night. They’re pretty messy and piggly little things so when they eat inside we have place mats to keep them from tracking food everywhere. We have to get some new mats because the current ones were falling apart. My mom said, “What could we upcycle into some new place mats?”

I hadn’t even thought about trying to come up with something, but as soon as she said it, I knew exactly what we could use. You see, my dad works at a gym facility and a couple of weeks ago they had to replace one of the belt (I think it’s called a belt, but just that part you walk and run on) of the treadmill. He asked me if I wanted it and my first reaction was, yeah that could make an awesome yoga mat. Of course it was later that I realized how silly that was. It was way too rough and knowing myself I could get seriously hurt on that. It’s not padded either, so I discarded my ridiculous idea and it has been sitting out there ever since waiting for me to use it. So as soon as she said it I knew that’s what we should use.  My dad cut it with a box cutter and you can see the kitties eating below. Take my word for it, I thought they were adorable before, but they’re way cuter now that they’re eating on their upcycled place mats. The picture below is of Cheerio (orange and white) and Melody and Harmony. The other two were scared by the camera, but you can see the two front paws of Mr. T. (He wasn’t named after the official Mr. T. We only named him that because he had a white T marked on his face.) Mystique is the other one and yes she was named after the Mystique in x-men. She is all black and I knew the second she was born that she was either going to be a Mystique or a Wolverine. She was a girl, so a Mystique she became. It suits her. Someday I’ll tell you all about them and how I came to find each one. In my opinion they’re very entertaining and they’re always on my mind, so it’s taken a lot of discipline not to write about them every time.

The kitties eating on their new place mats

Melody and Harmony and a hint of Mr. T eating on their new place mats.

So anyways, pretty much that was my day yesterday. Once again I must say, I love dumpster diving. Whether I find things that are universally useful or just the things that have the potential to be, it pretty much makes the world my oyster and there is nothing more exciting than that.