Ecokaren In Prius Plug-In MPG Challenge for Autism Speaks

Pluginforcharity by ecokaren

I am thrilled to tell you that I’m participating in an exciting charity event called, #Puginforcharity – The Prius Plug-In MPG Challenge.

And if when I win – I gotta be positive, right? – I will be donating my winning prize of $2,500 to an organization that’s dear to my heart, Autism Speaks. Danica Patrick might get to the finish line faster than I can fasten my seat belt but I’ll be the Queen of electric cars (#EV’s) by the end of the month! Oh, who am I kidding … I know n.o.t.h.i.n.g. about #EV’s. But I do know that the plug in’s are the cars of the future and are better for the environment. So given a chance to drive a Toyota Prius Plug-In for a month, how can I turn it down? And it’s for a charity! More on that later.

What is #Pluginforcharity all about?

There are seven “Eco-Influencers” (including me) who are given Prius Plug-In vehicles to compete against one another for the highest overall MPG in 30 days. We are the second wave of the challenge and the first wave winners were announced when we were given our cars last week. The winner from the first wave was The Helping Hands Food Pantry, a donation-run group  that provides free, supplemental groceries to needy residents, with an average of 356 MPG over 506 total miles driven! That is quite an achievement, don’t you think? My mouth was gaping in shock when I heard the mileage. It’s a tough act to follow, I must say.

When Toyota rep emailed me, I was hesitant to participate because honestly, I am really not a car aficionado. I drive from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’, as they say, and if I can get there in one piece, I’d call it a good day. So what do I know about cars or “hypermiling“? But this was for a good cause (Autism Speaks) and for the environment.

So the competitiveness in me kicked in and I was IN! I’d figured, worse comes to worst, I get to drive a car, a PRIUS PLUG IN y’all!! – for an entire month for free! Oh and, hubby is in it too! I think he’s more excited about this than I am. It must be a guy thing – cars.

pluginforcharity by ecokaren

Participants in the second wave of the Toyota Prius Plug-In MPG Challenge

Here are the seven “Eco-Influencers” competing in the second wave challenge. Eco-blogging world is a small warm and fuzzy, friendly world. I know a few of them! It’s going to be a ‘friendly’ competition for sure. :)

  • Earth Day New York, a nonprofit organization promoting environmental awareness and solutions through partnerships with schools, community organizations, businesses and government
  • Green-4-U, one of the Green Sisterhood blogs, whom I recruited to compete with me, is a great resource for people who want to know more about green living but do not know where to start
  • Green Divas, another Green Sisterhood blogs, runs a radio show and a blog, offering listeners information on green and sustainable living. She interviewed some awesome celebrities, including Ed Begley Jr., Mariel Hemingway, Jessica Alba, and ME!
  • Green Living Guy, author and editor of the “Green Guru” series who literally “wrote the book” on #EV! He is going to be the top competitor. But he says his wife will be the primary driver. I’d love to be the fly on the wall at his house for a month.
  • Inhabitat, one of my favorite, F.A.V.O.R.I.T.E., blogs that’s devoted to the future of design, tracking the innovations pushing architecture and home design towards a smarter and more sustainable future
  • New York Green Advocate, a blog authored by environmental activist Paul McGinniss focused around the latest news about the world environment, sustainable living, renewable energy and green building. He’s from New Paltz NY, up the lovely Hudson River, upstate NY.

How does #Pluginforcharity work?

In order to win, we must drive a minimum of 75 miles a week and a total of 300 miles for 4 weeks. The highest overall MPG according to the Prius’ trip computer per 30-day challenge wins a $2,500 donation to the charity of our choice. Second and third place winners also receive charitable donations of $1,000 and $500. All participants will also receive a $200 gas card. Sounds simple enough, right? Yea. Right.

I am not allowed to mention how many miles I log on during the challenge but I’ll post the final report afterwards. I will be sharing my experience on social media so follow me (see the icons on top) and you’ll get to see what my life will be like for the next four weeks in my temporary electric wheels. If you want share your tips on how to get the most mileage with a Plug In, I’m all ears.

Here is my cool ride getting juiced!


And why did I choose Autism Speaks as my charity? Besides the fact that one of my closest friend’s son has Autism, a recent study by Harvard University showed that it’s linked to air pollution. According to Moms Clean Air Force,

For mercury and diesel, the mothers in the highest exposure group were twice as likely to have an autistic child. Lead, manganese, nickel, methylene chloride and overall metal exposure also were associated with higher incidences of autism. Twenty-six of 180 pollutants had a significant association between exposure and autism rates.

This study made me realize even more how important it is to reduce emission and CO2 in the atmosphere, not just for the environment but also for the health of our kids.

So here we go! Please share your tips. I need all the help I can get! How am I going to get the maximum MPG with this awesome hot rod?