What makes you afraid? What pushes your buttons? What are your biases and why do you have them? The Human Library, a global project designed to reduce prejudice and stereotypes, works like a regular library except human beings (living books) are “checked out” with the aim of breaking down social misconceptions and forging contacts between […]
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If you don’t like the style or price tag on the car lot, convert your own.
Converting a car to run on electricity is a piece of cake. It’s as easy as unbolting and removing the greasy engine and gas tank, then installing an electric motor and batteries. It’s not just for the guys either—really anyone can do it.My first electric car was an old Mitsubishi that had seen better days. Its engine was dead and it was gathering dust on someone’s driveway. Rather than send it to a landfill, I bought it for $180.Admittedly it was a real learning curve, as I’m not a mechanically minded person, but after watching a few other conversions I gave it a go. A few months later that old 1987 Mitsubishi was running again, but without a drop of gas. I’d converted it to electric.There are some arguments that since an EV uses electricity, it is still polluting. However electric cars are super-clean to operate compared to gas cars, even if the electricity used to charge it comes from nonrenewable sources like coal. This is because electricity generates approximately 60 percent lower carbon emissions than gas. In addition, there’s a lot of waste with gas. Only around 30 percent of gas’s total energy is used for propelling the vehicle when it’s ignited in an engine. The rest is wasted in heat and smoke.So how much will it cost? That all depends on how creative you are. A basic home-conversion could cost anything from $1,000 to $5,000, but to pimp it out could run as high as $20,000. It all depends on how fast you want to go, how far you want to go, and if you have friends who can make stuff for you—like a box to put your batteries in—in exchange for a few beers. I’ve found that enrolling friends into the job makes it a great social experience, kind of like all taking “engine ed.” together.If you’re not sure where to start, I can assure you that getting off the sofa is actually the most difficult part. Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to track down a “donor” car suitable for your conversion. To keep costs down, I recommend using the smallest, lightest car you can get your hands on. This is because the lighter the car, the less you’ll need to spend on batteries.The second part is finding all the right information. After watching hundreds of conversions I finally wrote an e-book and recorded a bunch of videos showing the best ways to do it, and as economically as possible, of course. They’re both written for beginners and have plenty of photos, and you can “test drive” the first 27 pages for free at EVsecrets.com.A lot of people think electric cars are slow and weird looking. Don’t worry—those are all myths. Electric cars certainly aren’t slow. My own home-converted car had enough grunt to wheelspin easily, and the power (pun intended) to travel at speeds up to 85 mph. You can make your own electric car go as fast as you like. If you like zippy performance then consider using electric racing parts instead. Be warned though: speeding tickets aren’t any cheaper in an electric car.So what parts will you need for a basic conversion? Not as many as a gas-powered car that’s for sure. You’ll find many of the parts in a conversion simply bolt onto the engine bay of your car, where you add the plus wire to the plus terminal, and the negative wire to the negative terminal.It’s becoming so popular now that electric conversion kits are available for many different makes and models (google “electric car conversion kit”), making the whole process doable in just one weekend.In addition to some fuses and on/off switches, there are four main parts to any electric conversion. The first of these is the electric motor. It’s about the size of a big watermelon and its job is to turn your wheels. It bolts onto your car’s existing gearbox where your engine is now.The second big part to an electric car is—yup, you guessed it—the batteries. Depending on your distance and speed requirements, you might need to install anywhere from four to 44 of these things and join them together with simple, bolt-on cables.The third big part to an electric car is called a “controller.” It acts like a floodgate between the motor and the batteries and is connected to your accelerator. This way you drive it just like a normal car with a normal gas pedal.The last big item in an electric car is the battery charger. You’ve got to have a way to recharge your car and this is it. There are all kinds of chargers that connect to your car’s battery pack. Some are fast, some are slow; just choose one that suits your needs and budget.To really cut costs, find second hand stuff. Often you’ll find real bargains online. If you’re just after a beater, then a fantastic way to slash costs is to find a dead electric forklift and rip it apart. Dead and rusted-out electric forklifts often have electric motors and components that are in great condition, even though the rest of the machine is all rusty. Just take a wrench with you and save yourself a bundle.Another way to recover some money is to sell the things that come out of your car during the conversion process. The old engine, exhaust and gas tank are worth something to someone out there, at an online auction site or in your local recycling rag.As you can see the list of ways to save money goes on and on. It depends a lot on how patient you are to wait for bargains, and how creative you are in cutting costs. In fact, with a bit of creativity you could find yourself driving your own electric car for the same amount you spent on gas last year.For more help converting to an EV, contact the San Jose-based Electric Auto Association (eaaev.org). DIY electric vehicles are totally legal in the U.S., board member Marc Geller assured WLT, with “absolutely no legal restrictions whatsoever.” There are thousands of registered, insured, converted vehicles already on the road or in process, and you can get inspired by photos of 2707 of them (at press time) at EVAlbum.com.
Converting a car to run on electricity is a piece of cake. It’s as easy as unbolting and removing the greasy engine and gas tank, then installing an electric motor and batteries. It’s not just for the guys either—really anyone can do it…
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Thanks to a new green business, some vending machines are replacing candy bars and chips with dried fruit and protein shakes.
You may be surprised to learn that Sean Kelly, founder of America’s first healthy vending machine company, was once a Twinkies-and-SunnyD kind of guy.“I freaking loved vending machines when I was a kid, because all I ate was crappy junk food,” says Kelly, who grew up in the picturesque lakeside town of Traverse City, Michigan. “Even though my parents were health nuts and my dad was a dentist—along with my sister, grandpa, great grandpa, uncle and cousins—I just loved to eat junk.”Today, his company H.U.M.A.N., which stands for Helping Unite Man and Nutrition, builds and distributes vending machines that sell healthier fare, such as granola bars, trail mix and dried apricots—basically, the absolute opposite of the trans-fat-laden, obesity-triggering sodas and candy bars he loved to pillage from vending machines as a kid.At around age 12, thanks to the constant nagging of his father and grandfather, Kelly finally changed his eating habits and noticed massive, positive shifts in his “attitude, happiness, performance, just about everything.” Barely into his teens, Kelly had an aha! moment. “I started to realize that many foods in America, especially refined sugars, fast food and candy, are just like drugs and should be treated as such,” he says. He never ate from a standard vending machine again, and today is adamant that school-age kids shouldn’t even have access to typical junk food vending machines. “Thank God I was saved,” he says, with the zeal of a religious convert, “but many kids don’t get that chance. Accessibility is the problem—we need to take [the junk] away.”Embracing his newfound health and energy, Kelly became a two-time freestyle snowboarding national championship medalist. He could have become a pro snowboarder, but quit competitive snowboarding and enrolled at Johns Hopkins University instead, majoring in biomedical engineering (BME) with a concentration in biomechanics. He transferred after his freshman year to Columbia University in New York, where he continued to study BME. That’s where he had his eureka revelation, the one that would ultimately lead to the creation of H.U.M.A.N.While at a gym on 80th and Broadway, Kelly watched a middle-aged woman buy a Coke from a vending machine (the only food or drink option in the gym), take a massive swig, and jump on the treadmill with the Coke in her cup-holder. “I was like ‘wow, if we have so-called “healthy” people drinking Coke on treadmills, how can we expect an entire population to get healthier? We can’t!’” He saw very clearly how lack of accessibility to healthy food and over-accessibility to junk food lay at the root of the problem. And he wanted to fix it.Birth of a Green BusinessIn 2005, Kelly co-founded his first company, Fit Fuel, with a cousin. Then in 2007 he launched H.U.M.A.N. Core products in his vending machines include trail mix, energy bars, protein bars, dried fruit, granola bars, organic cookies, protein shakes, natural energy drinks, pita chips, kettle corn—and not a Coke in sight. “It may sound ridiculous, but we’re trying to do to healthy foods/drinks what Google did to information—make it more accessible. That, at the root, is what we’re all about.”Health clubs were among the first to embrace the idea, followed by schools and then forward-thinking office buildings. The machines themselves were custom-built as per Kelly’s vision: they come equipped with LCD screens with remote-loading capabilities, credit card readers, remote-monitoring functionality, eco-friendly lighting and power devices, touch-screen displays and internal Pcs.No two machines are the same— H.U.M.A.N. vending machines offer thousands of products, sourced from the largest natural food/drink and sports nutrition distributors in the country. “Basically, if you want it and it’s healthy, we can get it,” says Kelly. The company often sources products locally to minimize their carbon footprint and support local sustainability efforts.But there’s still a long way to go before bosses, business owners, school kids and even some gym rats take the leap from traditional vending staples like soda and chocolate toward healthier fare. “So many people want to change,” says Kelly, “but they’re scared . . . scared of making someone mad that their Snickers and Doritos were removed from the vending machines.”Caroline Ryder (CarolineRyder.com) eats only healthy food except for the occasional loaf of Velveeta.
You may be surprised to learn that Sean Kelly, founder of America’s first healthy vending machine company, was once a Twinkies-and-SunnyD kind of guy.
“I freaking loved vending machines when I was a kid, because all I ate was crappy junk food,” says Kelly, who grew up in the picturesque lakeside town of Traverse City, Michigan. “Even though my parents were health nuts and my dad was a dentist—along with my sister, grandpa, great grandpa, uncle and cousins—I just loved to eat junk.”