Monthly Archives: August 2014

When 70,000 kms is apparently closer than my backyard: foodmiles 101

success_stories_food_miles

The phrase “food miles” has been bandied around a lot over the last 15 years or so. I had no idea of the type of fierce debate this concept has apparently raised. It just seemed like common sense to me, to support local food production and keep carbon emission used to store and transport food as low as possible.

According to various articles I have read, the “food miles” campaign has not gained a lot of traction in Australia. It has been labelled simplistic, protectionist and even anti-free trade.  It is “successfully rooted in a blind ideology about man’s contribution to global warming – a popular obsession” according to Australia’s Institute of Public Affairs. Food miles is nothing short of a greenie plot to stop economic growth, it would seem.

Two other considerations are what impact low “food miles” would have on third world economies and populations looking to raise themselves out of poverty by exporting food, and how  they would effect the worth of Australia’s international exports.

A study done of New Zealand lamb has become famous for showing that there is four times less CO2 emissions created by a NZ grown lamb than a lamb grown in the UK. Apples and onions produced in the UK were produced in hothouses heated by electricity, which also increased CO2 emissions at the production stage of the product.

As the average basket of food purchased by Australians has travelled over 70,000 kilometres before it gets to the local supermarket, I find it difficult to believe that food miles are not a significant contributor to greenhouse gases.

I understand that food takes energy and water to produce. CO2 emissions are produced at every stage of the food life cycle, from planting seeds to harvesting to processing to storage and to the place of sale.  But surely one of the issues of ‘food miles’ is not only should it be reasonably local, but also seasonal. It is pointless demanding tomatoes in the dead of winter that require hothouse production, even of they are local. The UK’s Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs has not unsurprisingly found that it is more energy-efficient to import tomatoes by road than growing them in a hothouse. It is simple. People: if they are not in season, don’t eat them.

Of course, eating seasonal, local food means one’s eating choices are restricted to fruits and vegetables in season. Well, how dreadful. Fancy us in the Western world having to eat what is seasonal and come in line with the majority of the world’s population! We seem to think we have the right to eat tomatoes and apples and pineapples all year round. Why?

There are other arguments made against sticking to local food production which are many and varied and not all are created equal. One is that local food costs more, making fresh fruit and vegetables too expensive for some people.  I find this mildly astonishing. I buy from our local farmers’ market, and the plant produce there is cheaper than the supermarkets. The farmers bring the stuff there themselves, and sell it at stalls with low overheads. It is seasonal, grown locally, much of it is organic, and it is cheap. I don’t get how this is possibly creating more emissions.

The claim that sticking to local food can damage economies of developing countries which rely on food exports is a fair criticism. In our six month experiment, we agreed we would still use certain fair-trade products for this very reason.

As for the claim that low ‘food miles’ is a ruse to justify protectionism, I treat that with the contempt it deserves. I hadn’t even thought about it until I researched this. My understanding is that it makes local economies more resilient by protecting small farms, local jobs and local shops. I am not a fan of large corporations planting large monocultures, such as we see with canola. My understanding is that biodiversity is a much better protection against drought, pestilence, disease and locusts. Surely we don’t want the equivalent of the Irish potato famine again.

I have read any arguments against keeping food miles low which look at this particular problem. Many small holdings have been forced to sell  and their properties have been amalgamated into increasing large farms, increasing run by large corporations who not only control the growing of the crop, but also the storage, transport, processing and retail of products. Increasingly, food security appears to rest in the hands of large corporations.

Even growing our vegetables and fruit comes in for a serve.  A CSIRO expert claimed that “even home-grown vegetables, with ”zero food miles”, do not necessarily have a smaller carbon footprint than those bought in the supermarket. “With my veggies, I drive to Bunnings to buy fertiliser, and I go away for the weekend and forget to water them, and in the end I only harvest a few things that I can actually eat. By contrast, big producers, who can invest in the latest energy-efficient, water-efficient technology, and make use of all the parts of food, can be much more efficient,”’ he says.

Are you serious, Mister Expert?  Are you really saying that driving to the nursery and back with some seedlings and soil equals the emissions of thousands of miles of food being trucked? Oh, please. And what I don’t eat, my worms or chooks do. So nothing is wasted here either. And I use rainwater that is captured free off our roof, which costs nothing. I can’t believe that you think my garden may emit more CO2.

We are now in an era where easily accessible fossil fuels are over. As oil becomes scarcer, local production of food is going to become a necessity, not a luxury. Communities need to become more self reliant in a number of ways.

Maybe the concept of ‘food miles’ is overly simplistic – but increased local food production is going to be the reality in the future. The real  question may therefore be whether we are forced to adopt that course out of desperation, or whether we plan for and embrace the reality of global warming and diminishing oil. 

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Sustainable-Food-WordsI have long been interested in food. I like watching shows like Masterchef and Heston Blumenthal, and I used to read recipe books like novels. I enjoyed cooking up a storm with a variety of ingredients. But somewhere in the early noughties things began to look different. I grew concerned that farmers in Australia apparently could not sell their oranges, yet there was a clear demand for orange juice. It was being met by importing it from overseas. It didn’t make sense. I started to notice that fruit and vegetables in various greengrocers was from countries far away. There were debates raging about whether pesticides were ‘safe’, and whether organic produce was better. Despite this, I was still fairly oblivious to things like sustainability, and why organic really is better.

Things didn’t really change until I got energised enough to start growing food. As usual, I decided to read up about this, swapping cookbooks for gardening books. Inspired by the no-dig gardening method, we ordered raised beds (still something of a novelty at this time) and planted green leafy things, tomatoes, and zucchinis. We bought a fruit salad tree with nectarines, peaches and plums on it at the ABC Gardening Expo. I received a subscription to Organic Gardener magazine, and joined the Diggers Club. By this time, I had become a full convert to the sustainability cause.

Where food comes from, how it is grown or produced, and how this impacts ultimately on our communities has become a prominent consideration for those who wish to eat ethically and reduce the stress on our planet’s resources.

Many consumers now want to know where their food comes from, and the impact that it has had in both the developing and developed world. Stories of children working as slaves in cocoa farms, of tea pickers being poorly paid, of workers in terrible conditions churning out processed food in factories in China, and with the habitat of creatures like the orang-utan being threatened with destruction due to our appetite for palm oil, it was becoming clear not all food was created equal. The consumption of food in the Western world was having negative impacts on humans and beasts alike.

As understanding of climate change grows, many of us also want to reduce our carbon footprint and tread as lightly as possible on our fragile planet. What we choose to eat is a very basic decision, yet it has huge implications – for the sustainability of species, for the quality of the environment, for both human and animal rights and for the world’s climate. If we take the time to scrutinise what we put on our  table and where it comes from, it becomes clear that not all food is equal.

I was also increasingly concerned about eating animals and animal produce. I was a vegetarian for a while, and having read up in veganism, I decided that was beyond my abilities and lifestyle to manage. I instead found the Free Range Butcher in Sydney. His shop had four signs, which I have produced below.

Provenance (the place of origin)

Traceability (the ability to follow the history of something)

Sustainability (the capacity to continue operating perpetually by avoiding adverse effects on the natural environment and depletion of natural resources)

Ethical (a food produced under conditions which do not involve mistreatment of people or animals, or misuse of the environment)

I was very struck by these signs, enough to write them down. I hadn’t thought before of just how important it was to know the history of our food. Did I really know what had happened to that chicken or lamb chop on its journey from paddock to plate? How was the animal treated? Where was that vegetable harvested? Was it sprayed? How far did it travel from its source to arrive in my kitchen as dinner?

I looked up sustainability. I learnt that sustainable sourcing ensures there is only a limited negative impact on the source communities that produce the food and their ecosystems. Growing food sustainably means it can be supported environmentally in the long term. I also discovered it meant that we should eat food produced locally and food in season, in order to limit food miles, forced ripening, hothouse production and genetically engineered crops.

On average, apparently, food travels between 1,500 to 2,500 miles (4,000 km) every time that it is delivered to the consumer. This seems like an awful long way to me, but I have discovered that food miles are as hotly debated as climate science. Mental note to self to come back to this topic.

‘Ethical’ added a further dimension. I learnt that we should not purchase food that is produced to the detriment of indigenous and local communities, or to the animals involved in food production. I also decided to add not supporting large monolithic food chains to the ‘ethical’ list. The Colesworth duopoly in Australia routinely crushes local producers, they insist on hybrid, long life produce, and they also fly food many miles around the world. When we used to shop at Colesworth, despite both of them claiming their fresh food was really fresh, I found, for example, green veg wilted and sogged within 2 days of purchase, sometimes sooner. If nothing else, ‘food miles’ to me means ‘less than fresh produce’. It stayed crisp long enough to beguile the consumer into buying it, then immediately wilted on arrival home as an act of protest against its removal from the supermarket shelves. Within two weeks I gave up, as it was a complete waste of money unless I was eating it that day.

By contrast, tomatoes remained firm enough to play cricket with. Pale, hard and pretty tasteless, they were bred presumably to withstand trucking and cold storage. Once we had discovered home grown black krims, that ended our relationship with the supermarket tomato. Seriously, I would rather not eat a tomato if the only choice I have is a supermarket one.

There is also the matter of how workers who grow and pick the produce are treated, what chemicals are used, and whether the environment is being affected adversely. And I would rather not eat eggs or chicken or bacon if the animals are caged or confined.

It is a sad truth that in our modern, civilised world, we have changed natural farming practice to intensive farming practice, we have allowed synthetic created chemicals to poison our air and our waterways, we have destroyed natural habitats so animal and plant species are threatened with extinction, indigenous peoples have been driven off their land to satisfy large corporations requiring mono crops, and we have allowed the over-fishing of many species. With the increase of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, we have changed the climate of our planet, threatening the homelands of many. Greed has enabled giant business corporations to turn food into an industry that threatens the home of indigenous peoples, the holdings of smaller primary producers, and the health of many nations.

So right now and throughout our lifetime, the reasons to live sustainably are good ones. Climate change, energy costs and problems of supply, personal happiness and contentedness, species extinction, disastrous environmental destruction, our family’s health and safety, adaptability, food and water supply issues, waste, a fair go for those who grow our food … the reasons are many, and I am sure you could no doubt add several more to this list.

Our lifestyle is the one thing over which we have some control, and the choices we make can affect the lifestyle of others. If we all lived sustainably, our world and our future would hopefu.lly be assured.

 

Rubbish to the left of me, and rubbish to the right….

Albatross chick

I am sitting here, with a month’s worth of rubbish. I am in the process of tallying it, to see what we really are accumulating, particularly in regards to plastic rubbish, plastic being more of a problem and more insidious in our environment, not to mention more disposable.

In terms of average household rubbish I am guessing it is a fairly small pile. We have a plastic shopping bag sized bin behind the sink cupboard door, and most weeks we don’t fill it. It mostly consists of packaging, from food wrapping such as bread, soiled cat litter (we compost the wet stuff), and plastic wrapping from mail, especially magazines. We also cleaned out the cupboards and a few items of expired food also made the garbage.

The rubbish consists of plastic meat wrappers, recycled paper towel wrapper, medication cards (Panadol and prescription drugs), plastic bags from the free local paper, used aluminium foil, plastic bags accumulated over several years that we have reused until no longer usable, cat litter and chicken bones. It weighs around 4.3 kg in total.

The recycling is mainly paper, from envelopes and mail debris, some junk mail catalogues, the local newspapers, cardboard packaging from milk and beer four packs; glass bottles, bottle tops, and discarded mail and envelopes. We have ten small boxes full – there is a lot more than the rubbish.

Why are you bothering, I hear you ask?

I am bothering for a number of reasons.  Firstly, it is useful to see just how much rubbish we accumulate. Whilst our weekly rubbish-holding plastic shopping bag that is two thirds full of what is mainly plastic packaging may not seem much, times it by 52 and it becomes a small mountain over the course of a year. That’s a lot of non-biodegradable stuff heading for landfill. It is sobering to contemplate it. It is even more sobering to think of the resources that went into making this plastic. If you are wondering what this means, have a look at Hungry Beast’s life cycle of a plastic bottle at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B19zvES7RC8

Secondly, looking at it and counting it reminds me we live in a disposable society. I am amazed at how commercially produced food portions are getting smaller and smaller and more and more packaged. There seem to be far more individually wrapped processed food products on the shelves of the super markets now, things like single breakfast bars, chocolates, biscuits and even single-serve cereals. Cheese, yoghurt, rice pudding, soup, tuna and baked beans all come in single serves, to name but a few. Apparently we have lost the will to drink tap water, needing instead plastic bottles of water and gaudily coloured products for allegedly increased stamina. Buying in bulk is getting harder and buying in cardboard, paper and glass is becoming more of a challenge.

Thirdly, it appears almost impossible to send a magazine through the mail without a protective plastic bag. Why? It is not like plastic is the only protective covering. In our household, only The New Internationalist arrives in a recycled paper envelope. The Open Road, our Diggers’ Garden catalogue, the local free newspaper and a few other catalogues that have followed me to Wauchope all come plastic wrapped. Some are OXO plastic, but this is still only compostable in a commercial facility.

Lastly, I realised how much we rely on plastic to keep food fresh. Gladwrap (or its equivalent) has insinuated itself into our lives to such an extent that we depend on it to keep food fresh in the fridge, wrap our sandwiches, cover our cut fruit and in our case, package cats’ pet mince for freezing. It is also a useful thing to cover food being cooked in the microwave oven.

And this is just the waste. Looking at my cupboards, I have plastic storage, plastic crockery, plastic furniture, plastic bowls and plastic utensils. My cleaning products, medications, and my bathroom products all come in plastic. There are plastic bits and pieces in our garden equipment. And the list goes on. How on earth did my great grandmothers manage without the stuff? It is everywhere.

Over the last year I have become more and more aware of the damage that plastic does to our environment. Millions of tonnes of plastic enter our environment every year. This plastic pollution finds its way into our water ways and then into our oceans. It then hitchhikes on the ocean’s currents until it ends up either in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch or is eaten by marine life. It lasts longer than nuclear waste, taking up to a thousand years to break down in the environment, and turning into smaller and smaller pieces that don’t disappear. Unlike cardboard, paper or glass, plastic just doesn’t go away. It is stubborn stuff, and it is lethal stuff.

According to Clean Up Australia, every piece of disposable plastic that I have ever used is still hanging around somewhere today. Their statistics are sobering:

  • Almost 90% of the marine debris found on Sydney’s beaches is plastic, mostly bottles, caps and straws.
  • Australians buy 600 million litres of bottled water a year.
  • We use 10 million plastic bags a day (that’s 3.9 billion plastic bags a year)

Planet Ark makes the point that the time we use a plastic grocery bag can be counted in minutes – however long it takes to get from the shops to our homes. But only an estimated 3% of Australia’s plastic bags are currently being recycled, despite recycling facilities being available at major supermarkets. Why? Are we lazy, or do we find many new uses for these bags – such as collecting household rubbish? And while this is commendable to reuse these bags, what happens once I dump them into the red bin and they trundle off to the Council tip?

Having asked this question, I needed to answer it. I discovered that we are not off the hook by disposing of our plastic bags in garbage bins. Approximately 30 to 50 million plastic bags enter the environment as litter in Australia annually. Of that litter, 47% is wind borne plastic litter escaping from the landfills where our garbage ends up.

Once windborne, it ends up in our oceans and in our environment. In the marine environment plastic bag litter is deadly, and kills many sea birds, whales, seals and turtles every year. And due to its longevity, when an unfortunate beast is killed by plastic it decomposes much faster than the offending plastic, which is then released back into the environment where it can be ingested and kill again.

One example Planet Ark gives in regard to the deadly nature of plastic as litter was a Bryde’s whale which died on a Cairns beach after ingesting 6 square metres of plastic – including plastic bags. This is potentially making my mind implode. Six metres? How did it find six metres of the stuff so readily?

And it isn’t just the ocean. Planet Ark also reports the story of a calf on a farm near Mudgee NSW, which died unexpectedly. The farmer carried out an autopsy and found 8 plastic bags in its stomach. The loss of this calf cost the farmer around $500. One has to ask how 8 plastic bags found their way onto the calf’s pasture.

The worst thing for me though was Hungry Beast’s clip on albatross chicks.  I was searching for something on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and I came across this little documentary on Chris Jordan, who is a Seattle based photographer. He photographed the most heart breaking pictures of dead baby albatross on the Midway Atoll (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7vHrMsnRFA). All of them had died from being fed plastic litter by their parents, who are unable to tell the difference between pieces of plastic and small fish. I sobbed the first time I saw it. It still makes me cry. The death of all these small chicks just tipped me from knowing that plastic was a problem to doing something about it.

The 15 to 1000 years that plastic takes to break down in the environment seems a high price to pay for my convenience. Recycling is not enough, and rescue is not enough anymore. Time to actually change our habits and banish the demon plastic from our shopping as much as possible.

Planet Save has a helpful infographic at http://planetsave.com/2012/08/26/life-cycle-of-plastic-bag-infographic/ and a good factsheet on bottled water at http://www.cleanup.org.au/au/Whatelsewesupport/avoid-bottled-water.html

Plastic pollution is a global problem, but it can have a local solution. That local solution is me. In the coming weeks, we need to consistently and doggedly work at turning our plastic addiction around here at Shenstone, our sustainable house and garden. Today’s garbage tally makes it clear that this will not be easy, and some things, like our medications, can’t be replaced. The plan is to keep recycling those we can, and thoughtfully disposing of those we can’t. I will be following up with our local Council to find out what happens to such recyclables, and enquiring how I make sure my litter doesn’t fly off and kill a nearby calf or whale. But widespread plastic use surely can’t be sustained in a world where oil (the basic ingredient for plastic) is growing scarcer, and where climate change is threat enough to our birds, fish, animals and creeping things.

The bottom line is that it is unsustainable for all sorts of reasons. Time to really change habits and not just tinker around the edges. Less convenience, and more mindfulness of exactly what the consequences of our throwaway plastic society are is called for. My great grandmothers would be proud.

 

Hypermiling along

I offered the MOTH (Man of the House) the opportunity toi contribute to this blog as we rumble along. As we still need to drive for employment purposes (there is the small matter of our mortgage and very little public transport in the large region we cover in our work), we have adopted the technique of hypermiling when driving. The MOTH has always been fond of numbers, and has taken to hypermiling like a duck to water. Below is his contribution for this month, on the delights of hypermiling along.

We have had a rather lengthy journey towards this six-month experiment with trying to live a lifestyle with a much-reduced carbon footprint.

About four years ago, when we began seriously considering a move out of the city and I became serious about looking for a different kind of job, we realised that we would need to purchase a car once we moved (and I lost the work-supplied car that I had enjoyed for the previous two decades).

After exploring options and considering various possibilities, we decided to purchase a hybrid, a car that ran on both petrol bought from the bowsers and electricity generated from the battery in the car. Not the upmarket option, the Prius, but the “poor man’s hybrid”, a Honda Insight.Honda Insight

We’ve been running this car for the past 42 months. It came with its very own Eco AssistTM system, offering all sorts of hints, prompts, and rewards to encourage environmentally responsible driving (which may itself be an oxymoron, since every time we make a trip in a car we are adding to the pollution that is pumped into the environment and contributing to the degradation of the environment that is taking place all around us). 

In the early days, I had fun with the “eco” facilities that appeared on the little computer screen in the middle of the steering wheel. By driving carefully, not accelerating fact, and not speeding excessively, we were able to “win” first one flower (bit by bit – first the stem, then one set of leaves, then a second set, and finally the full three-leaved flower). Then, over the kilometres of the ensuing weeks, with continued careful driving, a second flower … and ultimately, a third flower. Hooray! We thought … we are careful drivers.

Then the next level of the system kicked in. Depending on how the car was being driven at the time, anywhere up to five small flowers would be sitting at the top of the little computer screen. Driving like a hoon, accelerating rapidly and braking suddenly, with air con on full speed and radio blasting, would see the number of flowers reduced to two, one, or even none. (Or so I am advised … I have not tested this empirically!)

At the other end of the scale, turning the air con off and not accelerating rapidly, would ensure that four, four-and-a-half, or even five flowers on the screen. But a minute or so of unthoughtful driving, and the number of flowers would start to reduce. An incentive, you see, to revert to cautious driving and to recapture the full five flowers.

To encourage the driver in this task, other options could be called up on the tiny computer screen in the centre of the steering wheel. One screen identified how far I might be able to drive on the amount of petrol left in the car. Another announced how long we had been driving since ignition. Another showed whether it was the petrol or the battery which was supplying the power at the particular moment. And so on …

Of course, this then raised the issue of safe driving … and my penchant for pushing the button and tracing through all the screens and seeing what they each had to offer. “Keep your eyes on the road”, “stop playing with your little computer”, were the injunctions that came from  … (well, someone else in the car, I guess … I was concentrating on the screen, I mean the road).

Three of the screens actually provide a collection of data that helps the driver to refine their driving practices and develop a more “eco” style. One screen identified the current amount of litres per 100 kilometres that was being consumed. It took the average over the distance from when the button was set at zero, and so provided a commentary on the driver’s habits during the current trip. Usually, trips around town would provide a measure of about 5.4 to 5.8 litres per 100 kms. On trips that had more short stop-start segments, the rate went up (more litres of petrol used). On trips with longer segments, the rate would decrease. Once or twice, I recall, I had dipped down to 5.2 l/100km.

On one occasion, when there appeared to be a problem with the transmission, I drove from Goulburn to Sydney on no more than 80 kph. On this trip, we dipped below 5.0 for a while. (And it turned out that the warning light was simply a warning that time was drawing near to have a service —  not a warning that something had actually gone wrong in the transmission. Phew!)

Another screen provided a short history of ltr/100km rates – the current trip, and the last three trips (each trip starting when the ignition is turned on). This meant I could look at the petrol rate on long trips on the motorway – 5.3, 5.2, sometimes 5.1 – as well as trips around town, short and sharp – 5.8, 6.2, even 7.5 (this was a drive from our house to a spot just a block away).

The third helpful screen showed the immediate rate of ltr/100km, second-by-second. This was the frightening one. Start up, push the accelerator, drive (slowly) onto the street – the rate was over 15ltr/100km. Drive for a kilometre, and the rate varied according to whether brake or accelerator was being pushed … and the overall rate would slowly lower. This screen was worth careful attention!

But all of this was a long, slow prelude, to the most recent aspect of our attempt to develop driving habits that were (relatively) environmentally friendly. (Or that should be, that lessened the environmental damage that I was doing with each trip in the car.)

Recently, we discovered HyperMiling. This is a phenomenon that has developed in the past 15 years, to foster energy-efficient driving. There are various elements to driving that effect fuel economy. Some factors are maintenance matters: tyre pressure, type of fuel used, etc. Other factors are under the control of the driver: choosing the right gear, braking carefully, coasting or gliding, accelerating at a regular rate rather than in short bursts, and anticipating the traffic ahead of you.

One factor that is of great significance is driving at the speed that provides the best economy of fuel (and by extension, thereby provides the least pollution into the air). Apparently the 2005 US Fuel Economy Guide declared that the optimum speed was between 50 and 55 mph (80 and 90 km/h). That is, travelling in the 80s would result in a better fuel economy, than travelling at higher speeds.

Elizabeth and I decided that we would do an experiment with our trips to Sydney in June and July. We were due to travel to Sydney, with our work, twice in June, and once in July. Travel along the motorway is relatively unimpeded, and we can motor along at the speed limit of 110kph for much of the 360 kms of this trip. Indeed, especially as we approach Sydney, we can go with the flow and find ourselves zooming along at 115kph, 120kph, or even more!

So in our Sydney trips, we travelled as was our custom – setting the cruise control for 110kph (or 110kph in designated areas) and only accelerating past this when overtaking. On some of the steeper hills, to save the engine, I would cut back to a slower speed until we hit the summit of the hill… but basically we followed the speed limits, along with many other motorists on the road.

The result? The first trip averaged 5.4ltr/100km, whilst the second trip averaged 5.6ltr/100km. Both of these figures were above the advertised “optimum performance” that the car’s manufacturer had provided, of 4.5ltr/100km on the “open road”.

Then, in July, we travelled the same trip, for the third time, but with the cruise control set at 90kph for the stretches on the motorway where the limit was 10 or 20 kph higher. This meant that we scarcely passed many cars – but that hundreds of cars sped past us at the speed limit (or higher, in many cases). Once again, on the steeper hills, we slowed … indeed, I tried to ensure that there was no excessive acceleration for the most part on these hills.

The results were quite striking. By travelling at no more than 90kph, we achieved an average of 4.4ltr/100km on the trip to Sydney, with the computer showing a stretch in the latter part of the trip when the reading dipped to 4.2, then 4.1, and (briefly) to 4.0ltr/100km. This was very exciting! A quick calculation indicated that, if this was the regular driving pattern, over the course of the year, not only would less pollution be spewed into the air, but somewhere around $250 would be saved in petrol costs.

The return trip was a rather different one, with less motorway time. It was a split trip, with overnight stays at Stockton (north of Newcastle) and the Stroud, meaning that we were on the M1 for much less of the overall trip. The readings were 5.4ltr/100km for the leg from Sydney to Stockton (we left Penrith at 4pm on Friday, so traversed 40km on Sydney traffic in the peak hour), and also 5.4ltr/100km on the leg that went from Stockton to Stroud to Gloucester and then to Wauchope.

The overall rate for the whole of this trip (totalling 1140km) was still 4.8ltr/100km, still a favourable comparison with the June trips (with readings of 5.4 and 5.6). So we are convinced of the benefits of HyperMiling. Better fuel economy. More intentional driving habits. And better environmental impact (just a little, but better than nothing).