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Let’s Get Practical for Earth Day—The Electric Car and the Hair Snake

Earth Day graphic featuring a happy cartoon earth.

For Earth Day this year—Saturday, April 22!—let’s dive into a little real-world environmentalism.

I’ll start with a problem I had last November: The bathtub in my apartment wouldn’t drain. To unclog it, I was going to try to find a long, hard, bent wire and stick it down the drain. Or something. But I kept putting it off. Eventually, each shower ended with me standing in about four inches of water.

Hair snake to the rescue

Then a friend told me about something called a Zip-It, a brand name. Searching online, I learned that the little plastic drain-cleaning tool he was talking about is often called a hair snake.

It’s just a flexible, barbed strip of plastic, two feet long or so, with a little handle at the end.

At a nearby hardware store, I found this one. I worked my new hair snake down my drain and pulled out an enormous wad of hair. The tub has drained perfectly ever since.

Instead of trying to unclog a drain with toxic drain-cleaner chemicals, try a hair snake!

But there was a funny thing about this great little product. On the packaging, it said, “Throw away after each use. Do not attempt to clean. Sharp edges could cause injury.”

Yes, you need to be careful of the sharp edges on the plastic barbs. But throwing it away after using it one time is ridiculous! After using my hair snake, I carefully pulled off the hair, using work gloves, and wiped it down. Looks good as new! Hopefully, I’ll never have to use it again. But if I do, it’s ready.

Single-use products drive me crazy. And speaking of driving …

To EV or not to EV

An electric vehicle (EV) is slowly becoming a more realistic option for many people. But how do you decide if an EV is right for you? (Sounds like a prescription drug commercial—ha ha!)

First, consider how you’d use it. (For lots of long trips? Like where? For work or volunteering? How often?) Also figure out how you’d charge it, especially at home.

For me, an EV would not be a reasonable choice right now. My apartment building doesn’t have good EV charging options. I live in central Seattle, and don’t drive much. And my little 2003 Toyota Echo, with great gas mileage, has a few dents but runs fine.

If you think an electric vehicle could make sense for you, talk to people you know who have one. What has their experience been? Which research sources were useful?

Once you’re ready to get serious about owning an EV, be open to the myriad of new EV options and possibilities. More models are now available. And new or restored government financial incentives might make pricier models more affordable.

For the latest electric vehicle info, including tax credits and incentives, check out these guides from Puget Sound Energy and USA Today.

And this year, for the first time, you can receive a federal tax incentive for buying a used EV. Buying a used anything is nearly always “greener” than buying new!

Working on Earth Day

So, what ties together hair snakes, EVs, and Earth Day?

Work. Taking care of our planet—and all of the people and life on it–takes constant work. But it’s work we can incorporate into our lives.

Electric vehicles and eco-friendly drain-cleaning alternatives are practical examples of the effort it takes to make small and big changes, individually and collectively. We need to stay aware and keep doing what we can.

These days, Earth Day is largely symbolic, a lesser “holiday” that few people observe or notice. But it can also symbolize hope and promise—the promise of a greener world, climate justice, and more.

This year, Earth Day, April 22 falls on a Saturday. Just by living our lives, let’s go to work that Saturday—and every other day, together and on our own—to make sure we’re taking care of this planet we all call home.

Tom WatsonContributor Tom Watson manages the King County EcoConsumer public outreach program, including coordinating repair events and repair resources (