Make Like a Tree and…Emit Zero Emissions

I recently had the pleasure of test driving the soon-to-be-released Nissan LEAF™, a fully electric car. It has great pickup, and a super smooth ride. And it is surprisingly spacious inside. My husband, who is 6′ tall, had plenty of leg room in the back, which is rare for a compact car. In addition to the creature comforts, this car offers lots of other advantages. Besides the obviously huge cost savings in fuel, you will save money on car insurance because, unlike regular cars, you aren’t toting around flammable liquids, and the engine has no moving parts to break down. Plus the break pads don’t wear out because the car slows itself down.

It can travel up to 100 miles on a single charge, and can go up to 90 mph. Because its maximum speed is 90 mph, which is plenty for most roads, this also reduces your insurance costs.

My husband was very impressed with the fact that it has 100% torque available at 0 RPM. I liked the fact that if something goes wrong with the battery, you don’t have to replace the whole thing. It comes in components (I think there are about 100 battery units within the battery case), which can each be diagnosed and addressed individually.

The battery charging stations are compact and fit easily into any garage. You can also use the same type of outlet you would use to power a washer and dryer, it just takes longer to fully charge the car. Already, companies like Kaiser Permanent, Whole Foods, Walgreens, and Cracker Barrel have plans to install charging stations. The car comes equipped with sensors that tell you where the nearest available charging station is!

There is also an App, which you can download and play with to see how the features work, even if you aren’t yet an owner of a Nissan LEAF™ . You can use the App to: check the level of your battery charge, begin charging, see when the battery charge is complete, see your estimated driving range, and even turn the climate control system on or off – on cold days, you can warm up your car from inside the comfort of your home!

Originally scheduled to ship in September, production has been delayed due to the recent catastrophic events in Japan. However, they expect to ship the first cars in December. The waiting list has been closed, but you can sign up on the Nissan website to be notified to be on the next waiting list. In the meantime, to find out where you can take a test drive, check the Drive Nissan LEAF™ website.

The cost for the LEAF™ will range from $32,700 to $33,700. However, with rebates and tax incentives, the actually cost can range from about $23,000 to $25,000. Not bad, especially considering the fuel cost savings in just one year.

On April 1st, the White House announced the green fleet initiative, which ensures that by 2015, all new vehicles purchased for U.S. federal agencies will be electric, gas-electric hybrid, or alternatively fueled. Given the wild fluctuations and rising gas prices, it seems that the electric car is an idea whose time has finally come.

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Some great reasons to ride the Megabus in 2011

photo copyright Megabus

This post was written by Katie Peige, Herban Lifestyle’s Sustainability Associate

As a devoted public transit junkie who had to find her way to and from NYC on a regular basis for school, I became an expert of every conceivable way to make the ~170 mile journey. Clearly driving was not an option – the tolls alone cost over $20, then factor in gas and parking, and you have an expensive, time consuming journey. And while Amtrak is a sexier choice than most when it comes to public transit, I found myself spending average of $100 each way for the regular train (the Acela, which is about 20 minutes faster, has nicer accommodations and Wi-Fi, but costs twice as much). But the train is not always smooth convenient sailing. Out of the six trips I’ve made, I’ve arrived late three times: once I experienced a power outage between Philadelphia and Baltimore, once I had to wait while they arrested someone on the train in Newark, NJ, and once I sat on the train for an hour as we rescued passengers from another train that had broken down.

As a poor college student and now a recent grad, the train is something of a luxurious splurge, so an economic alternative would be to take a bus. Having taken the greyhound (one way $40 or $36 with a student advantage card, and even less if you purchase your ticket online), I have had a few problem-free experiences, but too many unpleasant experiences to consider it, unless it is my only option. A cheaper option, and a bit more pleasant, is the Chinatown bus, which rolls up with a different unmarked bus each time. The cost is $20 cash on the bus or you can pay online. The experience is not horrible, but the pick-up and drop-off spots are often pretty sketchy.

Based on these experiences, none of these options can hold a candle to the Megabus, a life-saver for the eco-traveler on a budget. For the general public, this is exciting because it offers rapid intercity travel with tickets starting at $1 (yes that’s right, $1!), plus a $.50 reservation fee. Now this doesn’t mean that every ticket is $1, they start at that price and go up depending on when you buy your ticket and how many people have already purchased a ticket. It’s something of a game of luck, and it feels like winning the lottery when you can score your all-time low ticket price (before last week my all time best price was $8 round trip from Baltimore to NYC). So if you can book your trip a month beforehand, you have a decent shot at finding the $1 fare, especially on weekdays. If not, a day ticket from Baltimore to NYC is on average $17. Another awesome bonus is the buses themselves, which are all brand new (double deckers when going to and from NYC), clean, comfortable and equipped with free Wi-Fi and power outlets.

For this transit junkie, the best part of this deal is that the Megabus’ Baltimore stop isn’t in sketchy downtown Baltimore but right off of I-95 in White Marsh. Two other sustainable bonuses are that the bus is a certified green coach and you do not need to print your ticket since all you need to do is show them your confirmation number. I keep mine on my phone, so it’s paperless!

But wait, there’s more! If you haven’t taken the Megabus yet, be sure to make 2011 the year you try it. The Megabus used to only service the East Coast (it’s in the Mid-West too and started out in the U.K.) by going to and from NYC from various cities (including Baltimore and Washington D.C.) with NYC asvthe main hub. But starting in December 2010, Washington DC became a major hub offering stops in Richmond, Raleigh/Durham, Charlotte, Knoxville, Hampton, and Christiansburg. So, theoretically, one could take the Megabus from Knoxville to Toronto! Wow!

But yet it keeps getting better! Megabus is giving away 200,000 free tickets from January 12th until March 1st!  Check out the promotion here. The $.50 reservation fee still applies and you still need to use the same strategy of booking early to find the tickets offered for $0.00. I already booked my ticket for an interview in Connecticut that cost me $1.00 roundtrip from Baltimore to Connecticut and back – most exciting deal of my life!!!

So, if you haven’t hopped on a Megabus yet, jump on this deal and work on your Greener travel while on a budget resolution for 2011!

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Please Join Us at Squidfire’s 2010 Winter Art Mart!

Once again, it is time for Squidfire’s Winter Art Mart in downtown Baltimore! This year’s Art Mart will be held on December 11 at the First Unitarian Church in Mt Vernon. As always, the art mart will feature some of the best diy/indie crafters from all over the East Coast. Whether you’re looking for handmade soap, freshly baked dog treats, unique paper goods, or even locally roasted coffee beans, they will have it there. So, come on out and support local artists and get unique, handmade crafts for everyone on your holiday shopping list! I hope you can join us on December 11, from 11am-6pm, at the First Unitarian Church, 501 North Charles Street Baltimore, MD 21201.

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Join Us At the Squidfire Spring 2010 Art Mart!

Please join us and over 50 amazing artists for another fabulous Squidfire Art Mart. It will be held from May 8th from 11am-6pm at 801 S Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231, right in the heart of in the heart of the funky and vibrant Fells Point area. Hope to see you there!

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Join Herban Lifestyle at the Squidfire Holiday Art Mart

Squidfire Winter Art Mart 2009I love this poster that I received from the creative guys at Squidfire advertising their annual Holiday Art Mart. I posted about this show earlier in the week, but just had to share this image. It reminds me of the animated Abominable Snowman in the Rudolph the Reindeer Christmas movie that terrorized me as a child, except this one looks much friendlier and I wouldn’t mind shopping where he shops.

I hope you can join us and 60 other amazing artisans at Du Burns Arena, 1301 South Ellwood Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21224 on Saturday, December 12, from 11am to 6pm!

Join Us at Squidfire’s 2009 Winter Art Mart

Join us and 60 other amazing artists and crafters at Squidfire’s Winter Art Mart in downtown Baltimore on December 12. This year’s festivities will be held at the Du Burns Arena in Canton. As always, the art mart will feature some of the best diy/indie crafters from all over the East Coast. Whether you’re looking for handmade soap, freshly baked dog treats, unique paper goods, or even locally roasted coffee beans, they will have it there.

So I hope you can join us on December 12, from 11am-6pm, at the:

Du Burns Arena
1301 S Ellwood Ave
Baltimore, MD 21224

Hello Craft Brings Year-Round Crafty Fun

FeltedFriendsBack in May, I had the good fortune of attending the Summit of Awesome, a weekend of seminars, workshops, and social events for crafters, which was presented by the wonderful women of Hello Craft, a group “dedicated to the advancement of independent crafters and the handmade movement, as well as empowering small business owners and educating the public to the benefits of buying handmade and teaching the joys of making.”

At the Summit, I participated in a workshop of hand felting, in which I learned to make a bird. I then went on to create a couple of pieces of sushi, which I gave to my favorite local sushi chef (he has a big collection of fake sushi accessories that customers have given to him over the years). On a recent visit, I found that the felt sushi has been a great source of amusement for the restaurant patrons.
soa_class2009I’m looking forward to next year’s Summit, but in the meantime, Hello Craft offers a blog full of great information for crafters, as well as opportunities to network and learn about the business of crafting. This Saturday, they are teaming up with the fabulous sisters, Kelly and Kasey, owners of Biggs & Featherbelle, to offer a behind-the-scenes look at how they run their an eco-conscious bath and body product business. The three-hour tour of their warehouse, located in the groovy Hampden neighborhood in Baltimore, will include several product making demonstrations and an overview of the day-to-day business of running a small craft-based business.
The tour should be a lot of fun. Kelly and Kasey have lots of wonderful, positive energy. I had the opportunity to meet them at the first annual Handmade Mart held in SilverSpring on May 31st. The first Handmade Mart was a great success, and they are planning another one to be held on December 5th. Check out their Facebook page for details as they develop.
For more information on the Biggs & Featherbelle tour, visit the Hello Craft website.

Squidfire 2009 Spring Art Mart

image copyright Squidfire

image copyright Squidfire

Herban Lifestyle will be participating in Squidfire’s 2009 Spring Art Mart! We had a wonderful time vending at their Winter Art Mart, and are looking forward to another fabulous show. Here are the details:

Saturday, May 9, 11am-6pm
Mount Vernon Square (between Charles & Cathedral Streets)
Baltimore, MD 21201
Click here for map

The Art Mart will feature over 50 of the best local and regional crafters and artists as they display their handmade wares in the most beautiful park in the city.

In addition to visual treats, gustatory goodies will also be available:  there will be gourmet sandwiches from Puffs and Pastries, local ice cream by Sylvan Beach, and local, sustainable Blue Bird Artisinal Coffee Roaster will offer their heavenly beverages.

In addition, Tenpachi, a local hair salon will be providing FREE haircuts and makeovers AND Federal Hill Massage will be providing massages! It doesn’t get better than this!

The event goes on rain or shine. Please join us!

Squidfire Winter Art Mart 2008

image copyright Squidfire

image copyright Squidfire

While vending at the DC Craft Mafia’s UNusual Suspects Arts and Crafts Fair earlier this month, I met Jean-Baptiste Regnard, co-owner of Squidfire. Jean is a fun, high-energy guy, with a great enthusiasm for what he does — a real love of his work, which is great to be around. He mentioned that he was hosting an arts and crafts fair in Baltimore in December, so I took a look at the Squidfire site, and saw that they had a great line-up of artisans for a show to be held in a very cool venue. I will be offering my ware’s at SquidFire’s 2008 Winter Art Mart on Sunday, December 7, from noon until 6:30pm. It’s being held at the beautiful Lyric Opera House, 110 West Mount Royal Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21201.

Here’s an announcement I found online: “The 5th ever Squidfire Art Mart will be held on December 7th, 2008 at the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore. Come celebrate the season at a gorgeous venue which will house the regions best crafters handpicked by the guys at”