Nissan Leaf makes people fat

Our Nissan Leaf is making me lazy.

I find myself actively planning trips to use the Leaf around when my wife + kids need the car…instead of just hopping on my bicycle to cruise into town.

As Leaf sales continue to rise I predict Americans will simply become more sedentary. This spells doom for the bicycle industry.

🙂


Turning over a new (Nissan) Leaf

I’m now heavily conflicted between using my electric bicycle for chores around town versus our new Nissan Leaf.

The only true 100% electric solution out there for folks who need a full-blown car, the Nissan Leaf has been great since we picked it up a few weeks ago.

It is our primary family car, doing daily duty around town with the rest of my family, but I find myself scheming for when I “need” to use it versus my bike. It is a blast to drive.

It has significantly better pickup than any other car I’ve ever owned; likely something to do with the direct transfer of power from the lightweight electric engine sitting above the front wheels. But who cares, it is seriously fun.

The touted 100 mile range is true, so long as you stay in “eco” mode which makes the car a bit more sluggish to respond. But even in the normal mode, we’re getting 80 MPC (miles per charge) every day. Some might think it a bit too small for them, but so far I’ve used it to haul 8′ bamboo poles (inside the car), tons of boxes for work, and our large monthly delivery of bulk foodstuffs. All that before I even put our roof rack on it.

Could this be the right car for you? Try tracking your daily driving for one month; you might just be surprised at how few days you drive over 80 miles total.


Big moves for the fall

Before

Before climate change

After

After climate change

Big moves and changes this month:

  • While this blog is primarily for friends and family that always ask about our projects, other random folks have found this blog based on my obsessions with electric bicycles, long tail bicycles, permaculture, and more. For those of you reading this anywhere in the US other than the Pacific Northwest, you should probably go ahead and start the process of moving out here now.

    If the “before and after” images here denoting problem areas due to climate change don’t convince you, go read the full article for the details. Not for the faint of heart…but a big move may be in store for you whether you want it or not.

  • We did our annual field cut with our neighbors so I had the joy of several early meditations sessions watching coyotes and raptors hunt for mice/voles/etc now that their normal hiding places of a 7′ pasture are gone. Owls, ospreys, eagles, ravens, and various hawks. Wow!
  • We swapped out our used Prius for a used Chevy Volt. Between the Volt, the Leaf, and my electric bicycle, we’re now 99%+ doing transportation on electricity. Which means we’re now saving for solar panels and trying not to get fat.If you are still on the fence about the benefits of an electric car (particularly if you are a two-car family) check out the math from the always-funnny and usually-right Mr. Money Mustache.The primary behavior change I’ve noticed is a smile every time I accelerate the Volt. The Prius felt like driving a cardboard box in comparison. The fact that I was still burning gas while driving a cardboard box made me dislike the whole experience even more.
  • The garden suffered from a lack of attention as both my wife and I decided to take on intensive work projects at the same exact time. What I learned was some crops can’t handle it (I’m looking at you, corn) while others seem to do just fine being ignored. Case in point is the tomatoes. In previous years I’ve been careful with spacing, leafs off the ground, proper pruning for air flow, etc.

    This year (as witnessed by the below photo), I just transplanted them from the greenhouse and promptly ignored them…and we still have an abundance of healthy tomatoes. There is a lesson here that Ruth Stout has tried to teach me through her books, I’m sure.

  • We finished our treehouse. What was a 2-3 weekend project turned into a summer-long project since both kids were running the screwdrivers. But we just created lifelong memories, too.
  • We fired back up the greenhouse for winter salads and jumpstarting cool weather crops like broccoli, kale, and chard.
  • Evenings are currently spent processing the abundance of food. Dehydrators are our best friends.

Buying nothing new (except toilet paper)

As our rains and colder weather invade, we button up many of our outside projects and batten down the mini-hoop houses, cloches, and Agribon paper to extend our growing season. The remaining chili peppers – full grown but still green – will be brought in to ripen inside, and the water cisterns will be flushed/cleaned so they can quickly refill for emergency water storage during winter storm power outages.

And so we turn our attention to inside projects like bread-making, cheese-making, and another One Year experiment (our last one was on transportation). A few months ago we began a one year experiment of Buying Nothing New other than food, vitamins, and toilet paper to see how we would fair on 12 months of salvaged, repurposed, or used items. For example, we’ve shifted our apparel purchases to consignment shops (both local and online) for our fast-growing kids and for ourselves as we wear through items working in the garden.

The effect of “buying used” has had an interesting affect on us of actually acquiring *more* stuff in my life. Yikes! We’re actually buying more stuff now than we were before, because our brains were thinking “Oh, I’m saving money because it is used!”

But of course, we’re not. We’re spending cash where we were not before. And we now have more stuff coming into our lives, which is the opposite of the our previous simplification focus. Now that we recognize the behavior change, we’ve corrected it. But for several months, this experiment was clearly a wash (at best) on our finances. I expect we’ll begin making gains now.

This month’s highlights and lowlights:

Highlights:

  • Lessons learned re: our Buy Nothing New experiment. Time to combine a repurpose focus with a simplification focus!
  • Cool weather crops coming on strong; warm weather crops still doing well under their cold frames.
  • Addition of a Kenyan bee hive (aka Top Bar) that I’m bee-sitting for a friend who is injured. Fun to learn a new style of beekeeping.
  • Giving away our honey to friends and family as gifts!
  • Renewed interest in finishing my book on Prepared Neighborhoods (citizen-led emergency preparedness at the neighborhood level) and reinvigorating our own town’s preparedness activities.

Lowlights:

  • The biggest lowlight for our country is seeing the suffering of our East Coast neighbors from the superstorm. So, so, so wish more towns had citizen-led preparedness projects underway. We can’t rely on our government to bail us out; they are going to have their hands full just repairing the core infrastructure.
  • The biggest lowlight for me personally is literally the low light. Time to start taking Vitamin D supplements and St. John’s Wort to ward off Seasonal Affective Disorder.
  • Learning from our failures for the Buy Nothing New experiment that were not always so fun. Example: had to buy a new car tire jack in a hurry (no time to search for a used or salvage option) when I discovered our Nissan Leaf does not ship with a spare tire nor a jack. It was a bit of dumb thinking on Nissan’s part that was not fun to discover as we blew the tire away from home – surprising given the Nissan engineers got so many other details about the Leaf correct.

Are electric cars a dead end?

Jackson Harper at Transition Voice (part of the international Transition Network movement) recently asked himself that question and offers some interesting insights.

While our Nissan Leaf is still battling with my home-built electric bicycle for top billing for my commute around town, I think James Kunstler is correct that our “happy motoring” days are numbered. A favorite recent quote from Kunster:

We are ignoring the most obvious intelligent responses to this predicament, namely, shifting our focus to walkable communities and public transit, especially rebuilding the American passenger railroad system – without which, I assure you, we will be most regrettably screwed ten years from now.

Despite the private investment in our railways by Gates and Buffet, we’re seeing minimal federal government interest, which is a shame as we’ll need it unless we want the rest of the world to pass us by (at high speeds).