Last week’s discussion on fuel economy was lively and useful. I thought I’d highlight a few key tips in case anyone didn’t read all the way through the comments. I’ll also steer (ha!) in a new direction at the end of the post and talk a little about the possibility of saving money on some fun freebies (so even those who don’t drive can get something out of this post… cough! Shelli! cough!).
- While many suggestions are debatable, I have yet to see anyone disagree here or elsewhere with the suggestion to keep your tires properly inflated. It may be the simplest and least expensive gas saving tip there is.
- The jury’s out on whether A/C or the drag from open windows is worse at low speeds, but on the highway you’re better off with the windows closed.
- Although the highway signs drive me mad (somehow the grammar and/or diction just seem off) Maryland is onto something with their admonition to “drive gently“. Gentle starts, smooth acceleration, and engine braking/gradual stopping all conserve gas. In fact, the day after I posted last week, there was a post on a listserv I belong to about a gadget that will “train” you to drive smoothly. The review is promising, as the test drivers did achieve impressive savings the first time they used it. However, I don’t know that a $60.00 gizmo is compatible with tightwaddery – I’m just paying attention to the way I drive – but it’s cheaper than buying a Prius with its fancy onboard fuel meter (I would so love a Prius… maybe someday?).
Enough gassing about gas – onto the freebies and cheapies!
BPA Free Bottles & Sippies
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the hazards of BPA. I’ve known about it for a couple of years, courtesy of Jo, and have been on a mad campaign to eradicate plastic from our lives (even BPA free plastic, because who knows what may be wrong with it??? Cait thinks I’m a little obsessed…). But I haven’t known what to do with our extensive stock of Dr. Brown’s bottles (one of the worst offenders) and our smaller collection of sippy cups with BPA. My mom gave us some Born Free bottles and sippies for Natalie, so we’d stopped using the others, but I felt bad passing them on to someone else, and didn’t want to just chuck them. So I stuck them in the basement.
Jude tipped me off to an exciting possibility some weeks ago – Babies R Us stores in her area were taking back ANY BPA items for store credit, regardless of age, condition, or presence of a receipt. Unfortunately, our local BRUs and TRUs weren’t participating. Over the weeks there has been more attention and pressure regarding the issue, and it appears that BRU’s corporate office has stepped in. When I called last weekend, the two BRUs in the area *ARE* now taking back BPA items, even though they had adamantly refused when I asked in May. You’re unlikely to get blanket store credit, as the corporate policy is to exchange them for BPA-free items, but I think that’s fair, and certainly better than boxes of bottles sitting in my basement. It is worth calling around, as one store insisted that I would have to exchange bottle for bottle, but the other allowed me to get a mix of bottles and sippies (with more new sippies and fewer bottles than I’d brought in).
If you have BPA items sitting around the house, I’d suggest exchanging them NOW, as there’s still nothing in writing about this policy, and it may not last, or may get more restrictive. Need to know if any of your bottles, pacifiers, and other feeding items have BPA? Check out Z-Recs. It’s a bit tricky to find what you’re looking for but it is the most extensive resource I’ve found.
BPA’s Bad for Grownups, Too
No baby bottles? Nalgene, beloved by outdoor enthusiasts/lesbians/weekend warriors (isn’t that all synonymous?) for decades, turns out to be a particularly bad offender in the BPA world. They now have BPA free versions, but again, I’m scared about the future, so we have switched to metal water bottles. Sigg’s lined aluminum bottles are attractive, and the kid ones are adorable, but there are other options, as they are pricey — and so much in demand, they’re difficult to get these days! I have a slightly less expensive stainless steel Klean Kanteen, but it doesn’t handle being dropped well, and I’m a wee bit clumsy (ahem). The bottom is now rounded, despite my efforts to hammer it back into shape, so it won’t stand up. Cait and Natalie have Siggs which have survived a similar number of falls without the same problem. However – and here’s the tightwad tip – I was tipped off to Ecowaterbottle, a stainless steel bottle with a design very similar to Sigg’s, at half the price! I hope to be testing them soon.
Starbucks Iced Coffee
In this hideous heat, what would be better than free iced coffee? How about SIX WEEKS of free iced coffee, from Starbucks no less? This one is a freebie, but with conditions. There was a coupon in our local paper last week promising free iced coffee EVERY WEDNESDAY from now until July 23. I got my first cup this morning, and the deal is as good as it sounds. In fact, they don’t mark the coupon or anything, so presumably you could go from store to store on Wednesday until you are a twitchy, irritable, but well-cooled javahead! The fine print on the coupon says it’s good “at participating stores* in CT, DC, DE, MA, MD, ME, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, VA, VT and WV” so those of you in the east or eastern midwest are golden! (And Cait and I can continue our frosty coffee ways while visiting the fam.)
If you don’t have a card, participating stores were given a limited supply, so RUN, do not walk** to your nearest Starbucks and ask for one. Also, obnoxious people are SELLING them on eBay!! (No link ’cause I don’t support that kind of profiteering…). If the store is out, ask for a manager – it never hurts to ask!
So stay cool, stay caffeinated, ease off the gas pedal, and get rid of those BPA-laden bottles, whether baby or otherwise. If you’ve got an idea for an upcoming TT topic, leave it in the comments!
*They always have to have an out, don’t they?
**but don’t drive if you can help it! 😉