15 March 2012

My Green Living Projects

Remember the scene in The Jerk where Navin (Steve Martin) gets really excited because the new phonebooks has arrived?
Well, the new phonebooks are here.

The mini-documentary on my life that was filmed by Faircompanies.com several years ago now has a sequel.
In this one I talk about my truck mods and driving style that lets me get almost double the mileage my truck initially got, saving me a couple grand in fuel charges each year.

My last video with them is up to almost a quarter million views, but the company has gotten a lot more subscribers since then, so there is potential for this one to be even more popular.

If you have already seen it, this post answers the most common questions, comments, and criticisms I have gotten so far:

, I next went to the computer and electronics recycling center, then the Berkley Recycling Center, and finally the Berkeley Transfer Station which recycles refrigerators. 
I try to avoid making a trip just for one stop.

Kirsten, who shot and edited the video, said she may end up making another one with some of the rest of the footage.  I talked a lot about saving money and the freedom and time it buys you, how not buying into consumerism is good for both the environment and your own finances, and other random things on various topics.  Like last time, I didn't prepare a script, I just sort of free-styled messages I'd like to share with the world.

So, anyway, this is just the latest in a series of eco themed internet media I have been a part of.
It is all spread out in various random places, and in many of them I used different pseudonyms. 
Here are some others:

Global Warming vs. Fascism; or, why NASA wouldn’t have stopped Apophis
This was the blog post that originally caught the attention of Kirsten of Faircompanies, which led to her asking me to blog for their site, and eventually to the video interviews.  Out of 6 years of blogging, its one of my favorites still.  I will eventually get around to moving it to this blogger server, and updating it (I have had the opportunity to have an in person discussion with several actual climate scientists since then!)

My green/environmental blog, on Faircompanies.com:

The original 3-part interviews with faircompanies:

Step-by-step instructions on how I did the truck mods:
(this one won runner-up in the website's energy efficiency contest)

DIY small-scale independent (non-grid-istertie) solar system:

Saving energy without spending money upfront:

Rain-water fed self-watering garden box:

A bicycle is the most energy efficient mode of transport ever invented.  But producing one takes resources.  Buying one used is both cheaper and more eco-friendly.  But if you aren't already knowledgeable about bikes, how do you pick the right one?  Read my guide, thats how!

This is where the ideas for all of my truck mods came from:
It isn't my project, but I am a member.  I haven't been active for about a year, but I do have a lot of old posts there.  I highly recommend it for anyone who owns a car.
This site hosts my fuel mileage log from when I first began trying to optimize efficiency:

This isn't my project either, its another forum I am a (currently active) member of, and I highly recommend it to anyone who ever earns or spends money on anything, ever:
It is basically about how any middle class American can become financially independent simply by opting out of the consumer culture and making some small lifestyle changes - and investing all the leftover cash that results.  A significant side-effect is having a much smaller negative impact on the world.

I realized my various internet persona were diluting my potential to be a simple/green living spokesman when a couple people on the MMM (Mr Money Mustache) forums mentioned they had read my 12v solar project on Instructables, but hadn't realized it was the same person. 
I am Jacob Aziza on Instructables, David Craig Hiser in the comments of YouTube, Bakari on MMM (and ERE) - as well as in real life.  Occasionally stuff I've written online is credited to Lenard Simp or Robert Paulson as well.  All me
Maybe its getting time to start branding myself with my real name consistently :P
Because, its only with an audience that my message can have any impact...


  1. Hello Bakari, I have enjoyed your comments on the mrmoneymustache.com blog. I won't make the mods or drive like you do, but real world I have increased my average fuel economy on my 2003 Honda Accord EX 4 cyl automatic from 30 to 32 mpg. I've done this by observing the speed limits, accelerating slowly (trying to keep RPM below 2500, 2000 if possible) and anticipating slowing/stopping traffic far ahead and lifting my foot off the throttle. Keep posting, I love real world frugal guys such as yourself, you are an inspiration! frugalman

    1. Hey Frugalman.

      Thanks for the encouragement.

      "increased my average fuel economy on my 2003 Honda Accord EX 4 cyl automatic from 30 to 32 mpg."
      From 30? EPA MPG estimates for your car are 21/31 - 25 combined. So, unless you somehow do 100% highway driving, you are getting 32 instead of 25 - an increase of over 25%!!
      That qualifies you as an official hypermiler. Congratulations!

      At $4 per gallon, and 7000 miles per year, you save $245 a year and half a metric ton of CO2 emissions.

    2. Thanks, Bakari. I found the site Fuelly.com, and my 2003 Accord will be named Grandpa's Honda. I'm at 320 miles on this tankful and I will probably fill it up and log it this weekend (no logs there yet). That fuelly is a really cool site. I think I will use my phone camera to take pictures of my odometer and the final gas pump reading each time, then transfer the info to fuelly logs. $245 invested at 5 percent a year average will pay me $12.25 a year, FOREVER. That's the way Mister Money Mustache thinks and I agree with him! My only problem so far is that even driving the speed limit, in the right lane, people start camping out right on my bumper, very irritating.

    3. I find that turning on the hazards helps encourage people to go around.
      When people are really aggressive about it, and don't take the hint, I just slow down further. I never "brake check", just gradually slow - both safer and less obnoxious.

  2. Green living is not only good for our planet; it can be good for our wallets as well! By following a few Eco-friendly green living tips, you can keep a little green for yourself.


  3. I remember my dad telling me that the way you drive defines the money you need to produce for your car. he says it has something to do with how you drive.

    Still can't learn that though.

    Your post was great. it makes sense to me.

    Sport Exhausts

  4. “Drive Slower: Save Lives, Save Gas, Save $$.”—This tagline on your truck got me really well, Bakari! Well, it’s good to hear that you are able to help everyone by simply posting your insights about conserving the energy. Those great posts of yours can be a good reminder of everyone’s duty to be environmentally responsible.

    Sabrina Garza


  5. Bakari..looks like you're coming out of the closet, so to speak. Just like your writings on health/nutrition/exercise, you may have another book here. As I was looking over your list of blogs and the brief descriptions, I was reminded of your "rural" equivalent, Joel Salatin, who has become quite famous in the eco-farming, sustainable living world. Jessica knows about him. He has a web site for his business I think: www.Polyfacefarm.com. He lives nearby and writes a column for Flavor Magazine - a farm-to-table/sustainable food system supporter. We are small investors in their 4 year old endeavor. Go to www.flavormags.com. Continued good luck. Ralph Bates

    1. I know all about Salatin, from having read Fast Food Nation and Omnivore's Dilemma (both Jessica's books) and seeing the movie of the same name (which she rented)

  6. These are some great green living projects. For more ideas and guides, feel free to check out HouseLogic.com. Cheers!

  7. Hello Bakari,
    I found you through the MMM blog and just wanted to thank you for all the helpful comments and info, especialLy the post on bikes from Craigslist. We have been car free now since May 2014, using bikes, walking and occasional car sharing or rental. We have a long way to go on getting debt free but making progress. We did the math on buying a $6k car to use only on camping or long trips, at no more than 10,000 miles per year, and cost is about $6800 (no payment). Renting cars to do that much drving, including extra cost of insurance since we dont own a car is about $7000. We like being leaning toward never buying one because we can lower expenses when we want by traveling less and can rent high mpg cars . What are your thoughts from a green perspective?
    Off topic - Curious about one of your pseudonyms, Jacob Aziza. My sufi name is Aziza, and it means several things, fom eagle to exalted power (used only for good) and even beloved.
    We Thanks again!

    1. Of course, assuming we would be debt free before doing anything

    2. Hi Kay!
      Thanks so much for the feedback.

      10,000 miles for only camping or long trips seems like a lot!? Like really excessively high.
      The average US driver only drives 15,000, and that's using cars for a daily commute, plus all errands, plus recreation.
      30% lower using it only a few times per year?
      Lets say camping trips are 150 miles each way, and you do it once a month, and long trips are 500 miles each way and you do it every 3 months.
      Even that (which seems insanely excessive to me...) only makes 7600 miles.
      If you really think you'll get 10k miles from nothing but intracity travel, then you already have your answer, but if that was a random guess, I'd do the math on how many miles you might realistically go, and then do the math over. Don't forget rental cars are usually cheaper by the week than by the day, and that there are different sizes, and the cheaper ones are usually also the most fuel efficient. $7000 in rentals buys a whole lot of trips!
      I'm assuming that the 800 per year you figured includes not only insurance and registration, but also maintenance, repairs, and depreciation.

      Jacob Aziza - I made that up compeletly randomly. Didn't know that it was a real last name at the time. I am really really really happy to learn it means such cool things.
      I suspect if you found me here through MMM, as well as (at least one of) my pseudonyms, you can probably find my real email address to. Feel free to write me directly if you have any future comments or questions.

    3. Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I did recheck my numbers and it's a lot closer to 7000 miles per year which includes 4 to 6 business trips; my husband and I run retreats (2500 miles total) and family is 300 and 400 miles one way as well. Local miles, again for business only, would be about 1000 miles. Camping is one or two long trips of 600 miles each and one or two much shorter ones. No commuting by car; we bike or walk. The cost of the used car did include what you listed. Renting cars is nearly double the price per day when you don't own a car because you must buy both collision/comprehensive and extra liability insurance. (not enough savings to "self-insure"). Leaning toward just renting so that we can control cash flow as needed and to work toward being as green as possible given our business needs.

    4. Makes sense.
      Two other considerations: business miles will be tax deductible, if not reimbursable.
      You can go with the minimum insurance they allow as long as you drive responsibly. They will want you to have comprehensive for their own sake, but your liability need be no more than the state minimum - just don't speed or drive distracted, and you'll never need to use it. And if you use a credit card to rent the car, most major credit cards cover rental car insurance, so then you don't need any additional coverage from the rental agency OR your own policy. Maybe yours doesn't, but its worth looking into.


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