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Why, and how, I shave in the shower

Posted by admin on Jun 6th, 2011
Jun 6

“What!?!”, you may say. That sounds pretty non-eco, right? Lots of water being wasted…just down the drain. I’ve heard over and over again that shaving in the shower is bad for the environment. Well I’m here to tell you that it’s much more eco than you may think, if it’s done the right way. I’m not saying I’m doing it the best way possible, just the best way possible with the knowledge I have so far.

Here’s the jist of the thought process, and the personal results, from this “project”. Whiskers can be, let’s say, stubborn. When we use hot water they get less stubborn. The ideal place to shave, then, would be in the shower – right? All the hot water, and steam, this all makes the whiskers much easier to shave. If we make the whiskers easier to shave then the razor won’t get dull so quickly. Hopefully we’re all on the same page so far.

I have been shaving in the shower for the past 16+ years, based off of a suggestion from a co-worker back in 1994. The thing that I’ve noticed since I’ve been doing that is that my disposable razors have been lasting 2-3 months. My wife bought me a pack of 50 disposable razors from Costco almost six years ago, and I just got rid of the last one. That averages to one razor every 6 weeks. Some my wife used and some I could only use once or twice for various reasons, so the numbers might seem off, but don’t freak out over the math ;). I’ve recently been privy to information from current co-workers that they can’t use disposable razors for more than 3-4 uses. Wow. Now to be fair, I only shave every other day, and have done so for the past 16+ years, because I never seem to get a job that requires I present myself in a clean-cut fashion on a daily basis. That’s an advantage to working in the tech industry.

When I started learning about how to reduce my environmental footprint, and then started using the 5 gallon bucket in the shower (the 5th paragraph down) it made me feel like I was making a difference, albeit in a small way. My shower water collection has progressed, changed, and matured in several ways (which I’ll discuss in a later post) and now I think it’s pretty close to being somewhat mature. I collect the shower water the same as I’ve always done, but now when I shave I use a cup or mug to collect a small portion of hot water, then turn off the shower, then I shave – rinsing the razor in the water in the cup, then turn back on the shower. Because of this, I save even more water, minimize the disposable razors I put in the landfill, and get a better shave than I would if I had used the sink. Oh, and when I do dispose of the razor I remove the head from the handle and recycle the handle. I actually don’t know if I can recycle the head of the razor or not – let me know if you know the answer to that.

So what are you doing to save water? I’d be curious to hear.

Workplace eco mentality

Posted by admin on Apr 20th, 2011
Apr 20

I’m sure I can’t be the only one that has a certain level of frustration with how the general mentality of the workforce is so lackadaisical toward environmentalism. Where I work, there are several recycle bins for cans and bins for paper – but what gets put in them? Trash. Grease stained boxes from lunch, the single use coffee packets, spent non-recyclable packaging, etc. The other thing that gets me is that people will turn on every available light whether or not they need it. I’m constantly turning off two of the three light switches in the break room, which reduces the available light only slightly.


So because of this, I’d like to pose a question. Is it possible to motivate people to think even a little more about the benefits and need for thinking more environmentally in the workplace without sounding preachy? There are plenty of things in place where I work to recycle, and using a light switch is pretty easy, so it must just be a matter of caring. I make light comments when I see the opportunity, but it really needs to be more of a thought/life process change, than the random jibing by a co-worker to encourage green thinking.


Post comments if you have suggestions on effective ways to “educate”.


Hypermiling on a Harley

Posted by admin on May 29th, 2010
May 29

I have been doing some research on finding other Harley owners who have done some experimentation with hypermiling, but haven’t really been able to find anyone posting much about the subject. Since I’ve done a lot of hypermiling in the past, and I own a Harley, I thought I’d start my own testing and report my results here. How convenient 🙂 Here’s my back-story.

It’s been a little over a year and a half now that I’ve been riding a motorcycle as my daily commuter. My commute is just under 45 miles round trip in mostly heavy traffic, so it makes sense to “ride” rather than “drive” for me. Not only is it better in the fuel economy department but it’s also great for cutting down my time in transit (in California it’s ok to “cut lanes”).

The first bike I ever bought was a 2008 Harley Dyna Super Glide. I had never in my life driven a motorcycle when I bought it – I didn’t even have an endorsement. I know, crazy – but that’s how I roll sometimes. There is more to the story, but it doesn’t need to be told here. After finally learning how to ride it, and having taken the certification class, I had my endorsement and could hit the highway. Unfortunately about eight months later I got in an accident and totaled the bike. I then replaced it with a 2009 Dyna Street Bob (I *love* this bike!). Both bikes are rated for about 48mpg on the highway – we’ll get to my reality on that later.

I started out doing a little hypermiling but never really was consistent with it. I was always doing freeway driving and was also more focused on not turning my face into road pizza to be concerned with hypermiling. I’ve since become a much more confident rider and I’m now at a point where I’m going to try to improve my average mpg. It’s not that I’m getting bad gas mileage – I’m averaging about 40mpg now – but I know I can do a lot better. The reason I know this is because of one thing: when I first started riding on the freeway consistently I was getting 46-48mpg. Now I’m getting consistently 40mpg. The reason for this is because of my driving style – since I’m a lot more confident I’m driving much faster which is decreasing my efficiency.

I’m now at a point where I’m ready to slow down and “cruise” more. This alone will help my overall economy, but to further enhance it I’m going to start re-implementing my hypermiling experimentation. The little testing I’ve done so far hasn’t shown any change at all, but I haven’t given it a fully concerted effort to make an educated evaluation. I’m going to truly focus more on seeing what I can do with this and if it can ultimately add any overall improvements in efficiency.

I have had a lot of success in my (former) Dodge Charger. If you’d like to read up on my findings and tactics in the four wheeled arena then please check my other posts on the subject.

Green server hosting

Posted by admin on Mar 29th, 2010
Mar 29

I just received an email today from my server hosting provider that they are in the process of opening a new data center in Boston Massachusetts that will be fed 100% by wind power. Unfortunately it’s *just* the Boston colo (my server is in Seattle, they will have three total), but I think it’s awesome that they are doing anything at all. Data centers use HUGE amounts of resources so this will have a big impact on their overall footprint. I looked all over their site and blog for info about it but, alas, couldn’t find anything there. All I have as proof is the email…. This does bring to mind that I’d like to research more “green power” colocations (i.e. colos, i.e. data centers).

I’ve started on a VAWT (Vertical Access Wind Turbine) this past weekend which is made out of 2.5″ pvc tubing and 5 gallon bucket lids. We’ll see how it goes, but so far I’m having issues connecting the tubing to the lid very securely. I have the rest of the week to think it over though as I won’t have time to work on it until the weekend. I’ll update with pictures, details, and other info when it’s done. I built a rough turbine style prototype as a test last weekend, but my back yard seems to have swirling winds so the VAWT seems to make the most sense.

Researching solar oven plans

Posted by admin on Mar 13th, 2010
Mar 13

Lately I’ve been itching to retry my solar oven experiment. For one, it seems to be one of the projects that gets the most interest on this blog, and secondly I want to see how far I can take it. Someone left me a comment asking if I thought it possible to boil water, which I do – and then some. But what are the upper limits of a home made solar oven? Well, I want to bake something – how’s that for a goal?

While researching different plans for building an oven I came across this site. My favorites are the tire cooker and the Fresnel parabolic cooker. Seems that a lot of the plans on the first page are of an open air funnel design using things like a reflective car windshield shade. I’m not sure how well that might work….

I’m going to find one that I think is practical, easy to make, and has the potential of baking something and start working on it this weekend. I’m expecting to be able to cook at least part of a meal by Sunday afternoon.

Dodge 1, me 0

Posted by admin on Jul 29th, 2008
Jul 29

Looks like I was wrong about the estimated mileage that Dodge put on their website about the Charger SE model. We got 27.67 mpg on our trip to Vegas (282.2 miles / 10.2 gallons). That was going 70-75 mph the whole way, which if it had been 65-70 it probably would have been better. We filled up before we left Vegas to come back home and we haven’t filled it up since we got back this afternoon, but it looks like it’s going to be about the same mileage for the return trip too.

One thing though that I should mention. The night before we left for Vegas we went to the airport to pick up my Mother-in-law, which is about 60 miles round trip. We had filled up that day, then we filled up again the next day just before we left for Vegas. The mpg we got from just driving to the airport and back was less that 17mpg! That was with two extra adults and their luggage in the car. What a difference the extra weight can make.

Micro wind turbines

Posted by admin on Jul 3rd, 2008
Jul 3

I’ve been thinking a lot lately of ways that I can charge my bank of batteries without having to use power from the utility company or from fossil fuels (my electricity is, in theory, 100% green from the ladwp – or at least that’s what I signed up for….). As you may have read in the previous post, I’m building a peddle power generator, which I’m hesitantly optimistic about. It does seem to be the greenest option for me to recharge the batteries at this point, and if it works as well as I hope then I’ll be very close to unhooking the garage from the utility power – and I’ll be in much better shape to boot.

I’ve heard it’s necessary to have at least an acre and a half to have a turbine in my area so I can’t put one up because of my postage stamp piece of property. Solar is expensive, although I’m signed up on the Citizen-Re program, but they haven’t contacted me about installation in the more than 21 months since I signed up. Also, in order to have solar installed we would need to get our 25+ year old roofing redone first, which is $13,000 I just don’t have.

I’m a systems engineer by trade so I work on computers all day. I’ve often wondered how much power I could get out of one of the larger desktop cooling fans and have actually brought in a voltmeter to test it out. On one of my latest tests, holding the computer fan up to a box fan at full speed, I could get about .17amps out of it. So that would mean that a cluster of six of them would get around an amp in the same scenario. Not a lot, but it could be useful for something. I’m just toying with the idea for now, but I’m collecting the fans as I go along with the ambition of clustering a bunch of them together to see what kind of output they can produce.

I found this link of an entrepreneur in Hong Kong is doing something along the same lines. The fans are bigger than I would use, and I’m thinking of putting them in more of a tunnel format, but essentially the bones of the plan are similar.