Top-off a growler, not the gas-guzzler

I’ve been thinking lately about my carbon footprint. Maybe it was that pesky oil spill in the Gulf, or perhaps reading “Solar,” the new (excellent!) book by Ian McEwan about global warming (or is it cooling?) and the urgent need for mankind to develop alternative energy sources.

Or, more likely, is was the recent misadventure of towing a 22-foot boat 1,500 miles, watching the needle on the gas gauge on the pickup truck moving steady from right to left before our very eyes. We’re talking 10 miles per gallon, at the very best.

Anyway, I’ve decided that the time has come to do my small part to save the planet earth.

It will begin with switching vehicles, substituting my 50-cc Honda motor scooter for that gas-guzzling pickup, which must get close to 100 miles to the gallon (based on the fact that I used it pretty much every day this past winter and might have, at the very worst, put $20 worth of gas in it between December and May). So what if the top speed is 42 miles per hour? Or the fact that I look like a giant praying mantis, with knees and elbows all akimbo, driving on the Main Road between Orient and Greenport? In the bike lane, of course.

For our other family vehicle, we’ve already made the switch to a hybrid SUV that gets close to 30 mpg, as opposed to the 15 mpg we got with our previous SUV. The hybrid happens to be a Toyota, which means we must be ever vigilant when it comes to the possibility of a stuck accelerator, but I really appreciate that we can be “all electric” when the vehicles is operated at speeds of 25 mph or less. Which I make every effort to do when I’m tooling around villages like Orient and Greenport. (Yes, I was the idiot holding up that long line of cars.)

Which brings me to another carbon-saving initiative: the possibility of changing venues from Orient to Greenport. In Orient, where we have lived for the past 30 years, we must get in the car or truck (although now the motor scooter!) for virtually every errand save for visits to the yacht club, post office, Ice Cream Works or country store. The library, the hospital, the supermarket, the health food store, the movie theater, the train station, the bus station and most of the restaurants all are in Greenport, which means we could be walking, or riding our bicycles, to and from these destinations — if only we resided in the incorporated village. Imagine the energy (not to mention the time) to be saved!

There are other, smaller, initiatives to be considered, of course. Like refilling that gallon-size “growler” with beer from the Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. instead of buying another six-pack, or reusing fabric shopping bags instead of disposable plastic or paper bags from the IGA.

You get the idea, hopefully. Speaking of which, I’d like to hear other innovative, ideas for conserving energy from readers of this column. So, a contest: The most original energy-saving suggestion submitted by 5 p.m. on Friday, May 21, via e-mail to [email protected] will receive two round-trip Hampton Jitney tickets between the North Fork and Manhattan.

The decision of the judge (singular), who has been accused in the past of being arbitrary and capricious, will be final. Note: Employees, or immediate relatives of employees, of Times/Review Newspapers may apply — because we’re always looking for good ideas here on planet earth — although they can forget about winning those bus tickets.

Editor’s note: Since this column was published May 14, we have received numerous suggestions. We thought we’d share a few with you. Check back Thursday to see who the winner will be: