Reusable grocery bags: CHECK!
Recycling bin: CHECK!
Refillable water bottle: CHECK!
Tank full of biofuel for family vacation: CHECK!
We have three little ones growing up in a world with excess garbage and questionable air quality, and I think it’s everyone’s goal to leave our planet in better shape for future generations. I try to set a good example for my children by recycling, reducing our waste, buying secondhand before new, and filling up with biofuels. Biofuels?! I know, it sounds a little techy and not something the everyday consumer would use, but you can and you do every time you stop for fuel!
Why should we care?
What are biofuels and why should we care? Traditional biofuels include ethanol or biodiesel, which are made using either starch or oil from plants. Ethanol is a cleaner-burning, renewable fuel that replaces toxic components in base gasoline, reducing harmful tailpipe emissions. A gasoline blend with 10 percent ethanol makes up about 97 percent of U.S. fuel. Biodiesel is a renewable fuel that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 75 percent when compared to petroleum diesel.
My family purchased a new vehicle this month, and among my wants was affordability, environmental friendliness, and–of course–bucket seats that maximize storage. I researched vehicles I thought would fit our needs, and narrowed down possible makes/manufacturers for sale around Lincoln and Omaha. This is where I did most of my research.
We set our sights on a flex fuel vehicle that can use any blend of ethanol up to E85 (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline). Flex fuel vehicles are often signified with a yellow gas cap or badge on the trunk or tailgate, and about 1 in 7 Nebraskans are driving a flex fuel vehicle. Traditional family vehicles like the Ford Explorer, Chevy Tahoe, and Chrysler minivan come in flex fuel models.
We now have the ultimate choice at the pump, and I seek out fuel stations that offer cleaner-burning choices as often as possible using the Get Biofuels website. Our new family ride uses better fuel that costs less! But how can that be?
When American Lung Association (ALA) recommends using renewable bio-fuels, you can be sure that improved air quality is part of the equation. Mobile source emissions – vehicle exhaust particles – are the No. 1 source of air pollution. American Lung recommends choosing ethanol and bio-diesel whenever you can to help reduce air pollution and make the air safer and healthier for your family.
According to ALA, our engines and the fuels used to power them release numerous pollutants into the air through combustion and fuel evaporation. Each pollutant has serious effects on human health and the environment. This video gives a great visual of the harmful emissions of gasoline filtering into the air we breathe compared to cleaner-burning ethanol.
Benefits of biofuels
Biofuels help you breathe easier (literally), but they also save you money with each tank of fuel! From September 2016 through August 2017, Nebraska motorists and businesses saved an estimated $158 million dollars by using ethanol-blended gasoline. The total is based on the difference in cost between ethanol-free fuel and E10 – fuel containing 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline.
The estimated $158 million does not include the additional savings consumers pocket when using higher blends of ethanol. E15, a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, is typically priced 5 to 10 cents lower than E10. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved E15 for use in all vehicles 2001 and newer, and it is currently available at more than 40 stations across Nebraska.
Selecting renewable biofuels is an easy life choice that can add up in a big way. For more ideas to reduce pollution and improve Omaha’s air quality, check out Little Steps Big Impact. They encourage small changes – mowing your lawn when it’s cooler, tightening caps on household chemicals and combining errands – to make a big impact on reducing ground-level ozone in Omaha.
Amber Rucker is a mom of three from Seward, Nebraska. She has worked as a communications professional in Lincoln for 15 years and enjoys connecting with others to talk about music, human rights, equality, biofuels and renewable energy. She’s a wife who doesn’t cook but luckily married a chef. As a family, they love road trips to concerts, amusement parks, and Chicago Cubs’ games… filling up with E85 along the way!