January 15, 2013

In This Issue
AAA Watch

Washington Watch


Member Alert

Website of the Month

In the News

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
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AAA Watch
Former Agent Says AAA Illegally Discouraged Insurance Sales to New Drivers

We Wonder if AAA's Insurance Managers Were Ever Teenagers Themselves

A former insurance agent at the Auto Club of Southern California (a division of AAA) alleges that the company steeply decreased commissions on sales made to customers without prior insurance. This practice, currently illegal in California, is intended to discourage drivers without an insurance record.

If a previously-uninsured motorist is discouraged from purchasing coverage, they may end up going without. The danger of accidents involving uninsured motorists goes up, as do the premiums that provide coverage for such accidents.

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In The News
Better World President Performs Higher Math, Shows Walk Equals Talk

We talk a lot of politics around here. We criticize our competitors for their lobbying practices and raise a ruckus about corporate social responsibility. But how do we walk our talk?

Here's Mitch Rofsky asking congress to close a $100 billion corporate tax loophole. Read all about it.
Top Story
Think Carbon Offsets Are Boring?

How About Plasma Torches, Nitric Acid, and Shredders That Can Eat a Plane?

In 2012 Better World Club offset 3,400 metric tons of carbon.

Those offsets came from several sources: an electrically-charged plasma torch that destroys HFCs in Mexico; a steam generator in India; a nitrous oxide separator in China; and steel recycling facilities in California, where new, larger metal shredders can tackle buses and even airplanes.

Every year, we donate 1% of our revenue to environmental cleanup and advocacy. Carbon offsets are a large part of that effort, and we're careful to choose projects that have a lasting and non-trivial impact on global warming, pollution, and resource management.

In 2012, we also donated 40 free roadside assistance memberships to charity auctions across the country. Those benefited include Sierra Club, Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary, Portland Homeless Family Solutions, and Youth Rights and Justice.

Complete Story

Your Amazon Vacation Can Help Sustainable Communities

Community Empowerment NetworkAnd Better World Club members receive 10% off. The Community Empowerment Network is a non-profit group that empowers rural communities in developing countries to break the cycle of poverty.

CEN encourages self-reliance through entrepreneurship skills development and the creation of sustainable micro- and small businesses.

You can join CEN on an 8-day trip to the Amazon this February. Hike, kayak, relax, explore – and help build sustainable communities. Details are here.

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Washington Watch
Roads Less Sexy Than Cars - But Are They More Important?

The 50 best (and worst) transportation projects in the US

While the Obama administration's new fuel efficiency standards (up to 54.5 mpg by 2025) are a step in the right direction, the allotment of state and federal funds to new roads, rail lines, bike paths, and other physical structures is equally important to the future of energy use.

A recent report by the Sierra Club looks at the 50 best (and worst) transportation projects in the US. The authors state that, "because transportation infrastructure lasts for decades, the impacts of transportation investments are felt for many years to come, with huge consequences for America's ability to move beyond oil."

"US transportation policy is largely getting it wrong…Transit ridership is at record highs, yet transit systems across the country are forced to cut service and raise fares due to weak public investment at the federal, state, and local levels." An article by Sustainable Business goes on to point out that "only 54% of Americans even have access to public transportation.

Meanwhile the average American household spends more on transportation than on food, education or healthcare - 16% of their annual budget."

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Website of the Month
Community Empowerment Network The Eat Well Guide

A free online directory for anyone in search of fresh, locally grown and sustainably produced food in the United States and Canada. Find restaurants and grocery stores in your area, or plan a trip that includes results along your route. Here's more info.

Do You Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is?
Toyota tops 2012 recall list for 3rd time in 4 years
by Paul A. Eisenstein

For the third time in four years, Toyota Motor Corp. recalled more vehicles than any other automaker operating in the U.S. market during 2012.

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12 cars that will go 200,000 miles — or more
by Erik Sofge for MSN Autos

A decade ago, the impossible became the status quo: Cars from nearly every brand were routinely making it well past the 100,000-mile mark and chugging along respectably toward a second 100,000. Today, among new or relatively recent models, 200,000 miles is to be expected. But which vehicles are most likely to be truly viable after passing that milestone, not as embarrassing relics, but as proud workhorses possibly capable of hitting the 300,000 mark?

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