Saturday, May 3, 2008

Top 10 Un-Green Things You Do

10. Wash one shirt

What you do: It’s the night before a big event or you may need to look extra nice for work and you think “I know the perfect shirt” and it’s dirty, but you don’t want to wash a full load.

Instead: Try washing the shirt by hand. You’ll use less water and energy.

9. Leave the computer on

What you do: Walk away from the buzzing computer even when you know you’re leaving and won’t be back for hours.

Instead: Don’t leave on your Instant Messenger saying you’re not going to be home, Just turn the computer off if you know you’re not going to be using it. It will save you money and energy. And if your friends are really interested in talking to you, that’s what we have cell phones for.

8. Throw out coffee grounds

What you do: Brew a pot of coffee for every hour you’re studying.

Instead: Before you toss out the coffee grounds and brew another pot, toss the grounds in your backyard. Composting can save room in landfills and create organic soil. Look out for fruit scraps, vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, leaves and plant trimmings, shredded paper and egg and nut shells. All of these items can be mixed in a compost bin. In 3 to 6 months, you’ll have fresh and healthy soil that you made yourself.

7. Garden

What you do: You might have roses, palm trees or exotic plants in your front yard that requires frequent watering.

Instead: Try growing or transplanting native Californian plants. These plants are used to the California climate and don’t require a lot of watering. The Family of Southern California of Water agencies believes “A heritage garden is filled with native and California Friendly plants perfectly suited to our mild and warm, dry summers. These plants thrive because they live here too.” Plants to include in your garden include Deer Grass, Douglas Iris, Emerald Carpet Manzanita, Seaside Daisy and Concha California Lilac.

For more information visit,

6. Shower

What you do: Practically overflow the bathtub or take hour long showers.

Instead: Take shorter showers. Try to spend only 5 to 10 minutes tops in the shower. It will lower your water bill and the time it takes you to get ready. A bath tub can hold about 50 gallons of water. A shower can use a minimum of five to 10 gallons. Reducing just five minutes from your shower time will save a lot of water.

5. Drive

What you do: You drive all around town to do your shopping or hang out with your friends.

Instead: Go Metro! You don’t need a car to hang out at some places in Los Angeles. You can hang out with friends or go shopping without feeling the stress on your gas tank—or wallet. A trip to Universal Studios will cost only $7.25 and will take about and hour and 15 minutes. Take the Metrolink San Bernardino line: West to Union Station. Then board the Metro Red Line Westbound to North Hollywood. Get off at Universal City and board the short ride on the Universal shuttle and you’re there!

4. Get a new cell phone

What you do: Everyone needs an upgrade and when its time to renew your contract, it’s out with the old and in with the new. But then what do you do with your old cell phone? Toss it? I hope not. Leave it in a drawer? Well, it’s tough deciding what to do.

Instead: Recycle it! Cell phone can be recycled at an E-waste event or even refurbished through You get paid for every cell phone you turn in.

3. Eat Meat

What you do: As the weather gets warmer, it’s time to break out the grill. You cook all the hot dogs and hamburgers you and your friends can eat.

Instead: Lower your intake of beef and other dairy products. According to the Los Angeles Times each cow behind the meat “Belches about 145 pounds of methane, which has 23 times the warming potential of (carbon dioxide).”

Boca Burgers anyone?

2. Clean your house

What you do: Spend a ton of money on cleaning products that may contain harmful chemicals.

Instead: Try using all natural products. It not only saves you money, but it’s much healthier. The article “3 Homemade Natural Cleaning Products” written by Sarah Aguirre from suggests using vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda. While it may look like you’re baking something on your kitchen floor or bathtub, you’ll spend less money on cleansers and leave your house with a natural fresh scent.

1. Shop

What you do: Double bag all your groceries with plastic bags before you haul them out to your car.

Instead: Try to using paper bags. They can be reused and they’re less harmful to the environment. Or use canvas bags. They’re sturdier and will have a lower effect on the environment than plastic bags.

Trash Picking for a Good Cause

Beach goers sifted through sand, not in search of buried treasure or to build the ultimate sand castle. They were searching for garbage.

Senior Communications major Troy Doolittle held his “Save the Beach” event at Bolsa Chica beach on April 26. And I was there, ready to dig my hands into the sand and pick up all the trash I could find.

Ah, California beaches: The warm sand, surfing, Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach shopping. It’s what out-of-staters dream about. But some Southern California beaches have become trashed with litter and tar. It’s well-known that Southern California is home to some pretty dirty beaches.

My friend Jessica Cordova, 24, a Cal State Fullerton graduate came with me. We both have a love for the environment and a beach clean up was just how we wanted to spend our day on a scorching hot Saturday. With our lime green bags in hand Jessica and I set out to clean up the beach.

We found all the regulars: plastic forks, the dreaded plastic bags, straws, wire hangers, cigarette butts, and other garbage. But then we started finding other things: the head of a microphone possibly from a karaoke machine, rusted nails, and a syringe that missing its needle. That was the most surprising.

“Oh, I thought that was an urban legend,” Cordova said.

We got quite a work out at the beach picking up trash at every step we took. There were shoe parts, bottle caps and tops, cans and wrappers. It was like confetti spread all across the beach.

“I didn’t expect to find fragments of whole pieces,” Cordova said. “I bet a lot of stuff is buried.”

After two and a half hours of walking on sand and bending over I felt like I got my exercise for the week. Then it was time for lunch. Hotdogs, chips and chocolate chip cookies was a nice reward for picking up so much trash. As we tossed our bags into the pile of other trash bags, we felt happy just to sit down. Saving baby seals from soda tops and microphones isn’t easy, but it was well worth the workout.

There was also a raffle for fun beach prizes: a tiger shark kite, a skim board, surf shop t-shirts and a body suit.

“It seemed well organized. They had supplies, food and a raffle. It seemed they put a lot of thought,” said Cordova, who won a shirt.

While the food and prizes made the cleanup fun, the amount of trash we compiled was shocking.

“Considering how early it was in the year, it seemed pretty bad,” Cordova said. “Summertime is going to be way worse.”

She’s right. In September 2007, The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board voted to fine several cities neighboring the Santa Monica Bay in hope encouraging them to clean up the beach. These cities could be fined up to $10,000 a day if the water tested did not reach water standards.

MSNBC published a similar story in August 2006, “EPA sued over beach pollution.” This time it was the EPA that was being sued by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmentalist group, alleging that the “Environmental Protection Agency failed to protect the public.” The NRDC made me a list of beaches that did not meet public health standards. Of the 11 states listed, California had the most beaches in violation: nine, including six in Orange County.

Heal the Bay, a nonprofit environmental organization, has monthly “Nothin’ But Sand Beach Cleanups.” Volunteers can help clean Santa Monica Bay beaches. The cleanups are every third Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to noon at various beaches across Los Angeles County. The next Beach Cleanup is on May 17 at Venice Beach at Rose Ave. No volunteer application is needed.

For more information on beach cleanups, visit,

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Electronic Waste: Out with the Old, Just not in Trash

Think about your TV set. Chances are you probably have one lonely TV set in your home that is unused. It might have no picture, only audio or may be in need of major repair. It might even require you to get up and turn the knob to change the channel. And while you may think that unused TV set in the den is useless, sit actually has potential within its unused motherboard. Before you decide to send your TV set to the graveyard, give your TV a new life.

Prior to tossing that old TV, think about where it ends up: your local landfill. That TV may be useless to you now, but it can be reused or recycled properly. With all this new technology coming out so frequently, ipods, Mac book, HD TV, Americans are finding more problems with disposing of what is commonly known as “E-waste.”

It’s not just TVs that are considered “E-waste.” Other items including computer monitors, printers, printer cartridges and cell phones can also be recycled.

As it gets closer to Earth Day, I’ve noticed a lot of “E-waste” events happening around the San Gabriel Valley. West Covina, Covina, La Puente, Baldwin Park, Glendora and La Verne are all holding these events. But it occurred to me: “What happens if you want to recycle some of your “E-waste” during the rest of the year?” There is a solution: Planet Green.

Planet Green, (which has been around since 2000), is a fundraising effort that helps people and organizations earn money by recycling cell phones and ink cartridges. The first step is to start collecting! Not making enough money from turning in your cans and bottles? Well, there’s a new way to earn money from your recycling.

Once you’re collected printer cartridges and used cell phones ship them to Planet Green and you’ll receive a check within seven days from the date Planet Green received your cartridges. It’s time we finally earn some green for being green.

Planet Green will send a free recycling kit including collection boxes and posters to anyone who wants to participate. Additional flyers and other items including a template to make your very own newsletter is available to download from

Roberta Brodsky is Recycling Program Director for Planet Green.

“We have an inspection process that they all go through visual/circuit testing if they are refurbished and resold,” Brodsky said. “Recycling is a method of last resort.”

Brodsky believes in “renewing the life of the product” instead of just relying on recycling. These items still have life within their modems and motherboards and be refurbished or reused by someone else. Planet Green assigns a dollar amount to each particular model of cell phone or type of ink cartridge sent to the company. The model of cell phone you’re recycling may be work $1 to $11. A Blackberry model 8800g will get you $9.

Brodsky believes that the speed which technology and electronics are evolving is not sustainable.

“People buy new cell phones every year,” she said.

Planet Green has thousands in their directory of participants. At the end of the year, Planet Green rewards its customers by giving back in their “1 %” program.

“We look at how much money you made and we give you one percent extra,” Brodsky said.

This happens “when they send us next shipment.”

On Saturday April 12, a free electronic waste collection event was held at West Covina High School. The event was to encourage residents to recycle their electronic equipment rather than toss them in the trash. Items considered “E-waste” have reached the end of their potential and useful life.

Although I was unable to attend the event because of work, as I drove by the student parking lot usually filled with chatty kids I could see it was transformed into a computer monitor graveyard.

West Covina resident Manuel Avellaneda, 19, recycled a 26 inch TV set.

“We weren’t using it anymore it worked though,” Avellandeda said.

Avellaneda didn’t see a lot of people, just a lot of stuff.

“They were shrink-wrapping modems on palettes. I saw speakers. It was cool,” he said. “They should have had more people (helping).”

My sister, Denise Lozano, also attended the event to get rid of an old tv and monitor we had taking up space in the house.

“It went from where you enter the tennis courts to where you exit,” she said. “People came at the same time.”

She witnessed cars completely filled with items to turn in.

“Monitors, big screen TVs, printers, cell phones,” she said. She even saw an ipod at the event. “It was chilling on the ground.”

Each item had its own destined area in the parking lot.

“E-waste” events are good for electronic items that can’t be trashed regularly, but there are a lot of things around the house that can’t be trashed either.

Not sure if your other household products are considered “E-waste” or what is banned from the trash?

The California Integrated Waste Management Board has a list of items that cannot be disposed with the rest of your trash. In fact all of the following are banned from your trash can: lights, batteries, electronics, mercury-containing items (thermometers, thermostats), households and landscape chemicals (pesticides and poisons), paints and solvents (Latex and oil-based), building materials (cement, roofing and flooring), automobile-related (antifreeze, batteries, motor oil, filters and tires), needles, photo waste and non-empty aerosol cans.

These items listed may be considered hazardous. According to the CIWMB Web site, “California law currently view nonfunctioning CRTs (cathode ray tubes) from televisions and monitors as hazardous.”

Not good. For the environment or your health. Please dispose of your “E-waste” properly. An “E-waste” event is a good place to start.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Treasure Earth

Last Tuesday was Earth Day and that means celebrations were happening everywhere across Southern California. Last week I went to two Earth Day events: “Treasure Earth,” the city of Glendora’s Earth Day festival and the Earth Day celebration here at the University of La Verne.

“Treasure Earth” had a small, farmer’s market-like Earth Day celebration that included an e-waste recycling event, a trails committee display and one heck of a juggling show by juggler David Cousins.

The Earth Day celebration at ULV had much more information and interactive booths. I bought all-natural lip gloss, learned about sight-seeing by going Metro and how to do some composting in a empty coffee can.

Some of the interactive things I did included playing a fishing game about toxic waste. I also bought a $2 t-shirt supporting our Green Institute for Village Empowerment program at the school.

The fishing game was like something out of an elementary school family fair. A kiddy pool was filled with floating pink and blue baskets. The aim of the game was to fish out the baskets using a fishing pole. Each basket had fish puzzles as prizes.

“It’s important to conserve our ground water, it really impacts our environment,” junior biology major Zain Alshamiyeh said.

Alshamiyeh is a member of SPLSS, Society of Physical and Life Science Scholars. She was on hand explaining the effects of acid rain.

“That’s our little game,” she said. “The baskets represent hazardous waste.”
The pink baskets were the ones that represented hazardous waste. Whenever someone was able to fish up a pink basket, that person received a special prize which included a glass fish or giant NBA and Lakers pens.

“So many people played that it broke,” Alshamiyeh said.

I then stopped by to visit a booth promoting vegetarian life. I got free stickers, a cute coloring book, a DVD and a business card of my favorite vegetarian place: One World. Even though I’m not a vegetarian, I’m not down with fur or animal testing.

Next was the Klean Kanteen and Chico bags booth.

Vanessa Martinez of Sigma Kappa explained the importance of reusing plastic bags and water bottles.

“It costs more to recycle than to make the product,” Martinez said.

The Chico bags were cute pink and blue reusable bags that even came in a little carrying sack. These could easily be tossed in your purse and bought out when it was time to bag some groceries.

She also explained the dangers of plastic water bottles.

These bottles are “temperature sensitive (and) leaks into your food and liquids.”

Martinez had about 20 bottles available for purchase, but by 1:30 p.m. they had sold out. She had a list of more than 20 people who wanted to order more bottles from the sorority.

The “Treasure Earth” celebration in Glendora had a very different variety of booths.

The trails committee had a display of animals and insects located in Glendora. Aside from the possums and ladybugs I’m used to seeing, there were snakes and a section of bats. And not just one kind of bat, there were several. Bats in Glendora? I was surprised, that is too close for comfort for me. Walking sticks, beetles and other insect life was on display. Even though I though their legs and hard exterior scared me, these little guys needed to be protected and recognized on Earth Day along with everyone else.

If these creatures are too much for you to handle, “Cats in Need,” a “No Kill” shelter was also on site adopting out cats and spreading awareness about the importance of spaying or neutering your pet. According to the shelter, for every one human baby born, 15 puppies and 45 kittens are born. Think that’s too many? Well, if two uncontrolled breeding cats and their kittens and all of their “grand-kittens” are never spayed or neutered, this one family will produce close to 14,000,000 cats in their ninth year of breeding.

My favorite exhibit was about smart watering. A model of the city of Glendora was on display. The sloped region was sprinkled with brown food coloring to represent mud. Then a sprayer used to represent water showed how the “mud” would rush down the city of Glendora into the ocean.

Also featured at Treasure Earth was a composting demonstration, free California poppy seeds (native plants require less water), native plants for sale and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Glendora sells compost bins for $25.

Some media forces taking an initiate on Earth Day include the Los Angeles Times and GE. The Los Angeles Times front page had a story about the effect of food on the atmosphere right next to the story, “Gas price hikes ahead.” The chart explaining the life cycle of cheese gave a great visual about link between what we eat and greenhouse gas emissions.

GE is also showing commercials about ways to conserve energy during what it is calling “Earth Week” A husband restrains his wife from beating up the toaster because it is stealing from them-energy that is. GE is giving tips on how people can conserve energy by unplugging appliances when they’re not in use.

With all this information, go out and do something today. Recycle, donate clothes, buy organic, Go Metro, don’t eat cows, plant a tree or anything else you can think of that will help the Earth.
That’s how we all can help.

For more information about low cost spay and neuter referrals, call the Pomona Valley Cats in Need at (909) 622-0121.

Household Hazardous Waste Roundups are happening Saturday through June 21 in the cities of Azusa, West Covina, Pomona/Walnut, Pasadena and Irwindale. For more information about where and when these Roundups take place, visit

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Solar Sounds

Musicians are doing their part to help the environment. Last year, a number of bands participated in “Live Aid” a concert that focused on bringing awareness about the problems with environment to a broader audience.


Dramarama, better known for its 1980s hit “Anything, Anything” wrote another song in the early 1990s that didn’t get so much attention: “What Are We Gonna Do?” It’s not your average 1990s song, it’s about something deeper, I think.

“It’s April 21 and everyone knows today is Earth Day,

Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday to whoever’s being born

And now I’m trying hard to think of something

Meaningful and worthy, kind of Earthy

To make everybody ask themselves just

What are we doing here

And what are we doing to her?”

I think that’s an important question to ask. What the heck are we doing to the Earth? Today on April 22, it’s important that we take a pause and think about what we are doing here and how are we going to help the Earth in this time of need.

The best part about this song is it’s the only one I know that actually mentions Earth Day. We hear Christmas carols in December and songs about Halloween or patriotic songs for the Fourth of July, but what about Earth Day?

The song released in 1991 is better known because the date of Earth Day is wrong.

Earth Day is actually April 22.

But, what are you gonna do?

Joni Mitchell

The Canadian folk rock singer released “Big Yellow Taxi 2007” last year with a rework of the lyrics of her 1970 hit. The song is best known for the lines: “They paved paradise/Put up a parking lot.” But since the 1970s, there have been profound problems with the environment besides unsightly construction.

Pesticides have also become a major issue for many living in the United States and across the world. That awesome, shiny, red delicious apple is not natural. It is covered in pesticides and even a few washes may still leave some chemical residue in your food. The harmful effects of pesticides may have consumers calling for more organic alternatives. People who are trying to make a change in their diet and nutrition may agree with Mitchell:

“Hey farmer farmer/ Put away that DDT now/Give me spots on my apples/ But leave me the birds and the bees”

I know I do.

Jack Johnson

The Hawaiian native who brought us mellow rock hits like “Bubbly Toes,” “Banana Pancakes” and the Curious George soundtrack is now offering fans a new sound. Johnson is providing ways for his fans to “Go Green” at his shows. His Web site suggests that fans do their part before and after the show. The Web site suggest fans carpool to the show, recycle at one of the recycling stations or fill up their water bottles at the filling station.

Johnson’s newest album, “Sleep Through the Static” released in February, was recorded with 100 percent solar energy. I first came across the new Jack Johnson as I was looking through CDs at Starbucks. Although I love Jack Johnson anyways, it was the packaging that caught my eye. The CD case is made out of cardboard instead of plastic, which is much thinner and environmentally friendly. “Sleep Through the Static” is also printed on 100 percent post-consumer waste recycled paper.

The record label Johnson is on is trying to make a world of change in the music industry. “Brushfire records is paving the way for responsible CD production and packaging.” Recycling stations and filling stations for water bottles are also part of Johnson’s contribution to promoting the green scene. His Web site boasts: “Jack Johnson and his crew are taking action to minimize the environmental impact of their world tour.”

Johnson also has a global social action community “All at Once” for fans that active in their communities. It provides fans with information about non-profit organizations and volunteer events.

For more information Bushfire Records or the All at Once community visit

Friday, April 11, 2008

(Environmentally) Friendly Fashion

Organic comes in all forms: bananas, mangoes and of course your favorite tee. That’s right. Organic isn’t just for your food anymore.

If you’re like me, you probably have at least one shirt, pair of jeans and socks all organic. Organic clothing is the future. Major labels are recognizing that customers want to be environmentally-friendly even in their clothing. Body and beauty products are doing the same.

“You are what your skin eats”

Walk into your local Macy’s and you’d first be greeted by the loud noise and obnoxiously stylish MAC counter. Or you might be overwhelmed to try a sample of Paris Hilton’s new perfume. But if you look beyond all the scents and make-up is a small counter of organic and all-natural beauty and body products.

Macy’s offers customers a chance to be organically attractive. “Origins” is a line of beauty products that presents customers with a chance to get their skin nice and smooth without any hard cleansers or other unnatural products. The ingredients in their products are all natural: spices, flower, fruit and citrus. Origins has two lines of beauty products; natural and organic. Origins organics are made form 70-90 percent organic ingredients.

My favorite is the foaming face wash made from 73 percent organic ingredients. The wash is made from a blend of organic “clove, rose, lavender, patchouli and red thyme essential oils or organic lavender alcohol.” The face wash smoothes over in light foam and leaves behind a natural and calming scent the rest of the day. No hard cleansers here.

Siham, who didn’t want to give her last name works at the Origins counter at Macy’s in West Covina.

“I like the body lotion,” she said. “I like the smell.”

Siham likes to environmentally conscious in the shower.

“I like the soap because I know it won’t hurt. (It) washes easily.”

She feels relieved that soap won’t add any chemicals to the water when washing down the drain.

Other products offered are purifying tonic, face lotion, lip balm, cleansing body bar, body lotion, body spritz, massage oil, and hair oil. Everything you need to get ready for the day. Origins proudly boast, “You are what your skin eats.” The best part of Origins that all the empty bottles can be brought back to the store where they will be sent back and recycled.

Shoot I’m fashionable

Bamboo isn’t just for pandas anymore. It can be made into rayon and used for clothing.

J.C. Penney offers alternative clothing made from bamboo, recycled cotton and organic cotton. Shirts, jeans, socks and even thermals made from organic or recycled cotton or rayon made from bamboo. Arizona offers customers shirts and jeans made from recycled cotton. The shirts are so soft you’d want to rub them on your face and they’re designed with cute environmentally friendly prints. The jeans aren’t stiff or cardboard like either. They feel like you just slipped on your favorite pair of worn out-jeans. And when you want to stay cozy, Cuddl Duds offer thermals made from bamboo with a cute bamboo print on the inside.

“Save the planet, we all live here.”

The World Wildlife Fund also manufactures recycled cotton t-shits with environmentally friendly slogans. These range from the idea that “Green is the new Black” to the very upfront “Save the planet we all live here.” That’s right. WWF has some cute shirts and affordable tees that not only promote an eco-friendly message, but are also made form recycled cotton. My favorite is the blue tee with an Earth on it with the message, “Keep it Cool.” Another favorite is a hot pink tee with a sad penguin dressed up with a bowtie, standing on the Earth with the words “All dressed up and no where to go.” If you remember the polar bear scene from “An Inconvenient Truth,” you know what I’m talking about.

Their shirts can be ordered through Delia’s catalog or found at your local J.C. Penney.

Being Green makes more Green

Let’s examine the business end of going organic. Isn’t more costly and time-consuming for companies to provide organic products? This is what I was thinking, then I realized that going organic allows major companies to show that they too are “concerned” about the planet. They don’t have to go out of their way to provide customers with these products, but they do because it creates a good image. “The Economist” discussed how going green benefits major corporations in the article, “Business: How green is your wardrobe?; Organic clothing,” “Proponents claim the fibre is better for the planet, for growers and for consumers than the more common sort of cotton. Whether or not that is true, organic cotton certainly attractive to retailers trying to burnish their socially responsible images. Ethics, after all, are all the rage.”

You don’t have to be a hippie to go green.

For more information about Origins visit your local Macy’s.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Are Hybrids For You?

Filled up on gas lately? With gas prices in Los Angeles reaching more than $3.50, you’re probably digging deeper into your pockets to pay for the outrageous fuel prices. If you’re tired of your oversized gas-guzzler maybe it’s time to go for the green—cars that is.

You don’t have to be a tree-hugger to purchase a hybrid vehicle. Automakers aren’t aiming for the usual eco-conscious consumer anymore because it seems that everyone is affected by the high gas prices and is more concerned about saving gas and money. Everyone is looking for a way to cut back on their fuel usage and helping the environment is a plus.

Andrew Wolfberg, a 37-year-old attorney from Los Angeles,
is considering buying a hybrid.
“I have been in the market for a new car for a few months,”
Wolfberg said. "I have been considering a hybrid car for
many reasons, primary of which is that I feel that we
should not support the OPEC governments.”
Wolfberg believes that OPEC, which includes the
Middle East and Venezuela is comprised of governments
that Americans should not support.
However, gas prices are still a larger issue.
“If I own a hybrid car it will only make a small dent
in the gas usage but every little bit helps,”
Wolfberg said.
Wolfberg currently owns a 1999 BMW. 
“I will look at the Honda Civic and Toyota Prius,” Wolfberg said.
“I am considering the Prius over the other cars because I want
others to know for certain that I am driving a hybrid.”

Not ready to purchase an unknown hybrid vehicle? According to “Ward’s Auto World,” automakers are designing hybrid models of already popular vehicles. Models like the Toyota Camry and Highlander, Honda Civic Nissan Altima, Chevrolet Malibu and the Cadillac Escalade all have alternative versions for easy transition. “Ward’s Auto World” also reports that more than 10 new hybrids, including an alternative Dodge Durango and Saturn Vue will be released within the next year.

Still not ready to commit to a full hybrid? If the technology is what’s setting you back, General Motors offers drivers a variety hybrids ranging from what is considered a “mild” hybrid like the Saturn Vue with a Belt Alternator system to the Two-mode HEV (full hybrid) version of the Vue. GM also plans on creating a plug-in version as well. What if you’re thinking, “OK Alex, maybe I could commit to a hybrid, but I want to get the most miles out of my car.” I have a solution. Consumer Reports suggest that if you’re planning buying a new car, “Consider a high-rated fuel sipper such as a Toyota Prius (44mpg overall in CR’s test., Honda Civic hybrid (37 mpg) or Toyota Camry Hybrid (34 mpg).

Rest easy, I’m here for you.

If you haven’t converted yet, hybrids can do more than save you money at the pump. Hybrids can also help with your taxes.

In the article “Tax Break. Think green, and save some too” from Time magazine, author Dan Kadlec reports that last year was the “first year you can take advantage of incentives built into the landmark 2005 Energy Policy Act, which will reduce your tax bill if you simply buy a fuel-saving car or install energy-efficient appliances.” How much money will you save? Time magazine reports that you can receive a $2,600 tax credit for purchasing a Prius and up to $4,000 if you bought a Honda Civic GZX.

Finally, you may want to know which hybrid is the best hybrid. Well, that depends on what you want in a car overall. I have my eye on the Toyota Prius. According to “Automotive News,” the Prius “remains the head-and-shoulders hybrid sales leader. It starts at about $21,000 and gets about 48 miles to the galloon in city driving.” “Automotive News” also reports that “in the first 10 months of (2007), Prius sales were up 67.6 percent from a year earlier to 150, 272.” Toyota has to be doing something right.

For more information on hybrid vehicles, visit