Author Archives: Darcy Cronin

About Darcy Cronin

I'm a Mother/Coach/Blogger/Business Adventurer from Portland OR. My family consists of my Hubby of 12 years, our 8yo Kieran, 5yo Makenna, and 1yo Teagan. I love dreaming about a better future, and making it happen.

Plastic Into Oil

I had this post in draft form right before the earthquake/tsunami hit Japan, but it didn’t seem right to share this story just yet… 


Have you ever wished that you could turn plastic into something useful, like oil? 
One Japanese inventor is making this idea a reality. 


The man in the video  below is very sweet and sincere about his hope to turn something good out of the pollution we can plastic and inspire hope. 


This plastic-to-oil converting machine is very interesting. It averages about 3 hours for processing time and uses about 1Kw per hour (equivalent to 24.3 cents in cost), and it processes on average about 90% of the plastic product. So if it had 1000 grams of plastic, it would convert into about 900 grams of fuel. It would cost a little less than $1 to make a gallon of fuel. And if this is done on-site or locally it could be competitive in emissions to current recycling of plastic since the majority of our plastics are shipped long distances to China

Here’s the math of it (done by a friend of mine): it will take 1 kg (2.2 pounds) of plastic to make 1 liter of oil (not gasoline) using about 1 kW of electricity. We pay about $0.06 to $0.10/ kW, which is cheap compared to other places like Japan, at $0.20 per kW. A barrel of oil today costs $110 (rising daily) and is 42 gallons or 159 liters. 

With his $9500 machine, you can make a barrel of oil for about $30, with Japan ‘s electricity prices –  or less than $15 with Portland electricity prices. It may be a while until this is a common technology, but one plant in Tigard, Oregon is converting plastic to crude oil.



Here’s the quick video:




What inventions do you think could help save the Earth?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Student Loan Forgiveness

My higher education cost me $66k (plus interest).


I was happily under the impression that I was eligible for the public service loan forgiveness program passed in 2007 (forgiving loans after 10 years of consistent payments). The program provides loan forgiveness to public/non-profit/educators/health workers, knowing that these public service sectors pay far less than the private sector and yet society needs good teachers, etc.


Since I’ve only ever worked in the non-profit/public sectors, I was excited when I first learned that I may someday vanquish the financial burden of being educated. But now that I’ve been looking over requirements closer, I think I’m ineligible because my loans are through the Federal Family Education Loans program, not the Federal Direct Loan program. Moreover, you can only consolidate once (without adding more student loans), and I only wish that I had read this fine print a few years ago when I learned of the program.

Here are my basic loan details. I finished graduate school in June 2005, and consolidated my undergraduate and grad school loans shortly thereafter. The total loan amount was $61k (down from the grand total of $66k), since I had been diligently making monthly payments since 2000. My payments for the first three years averaged $500, but after I went back to school I dropped down to the minimum $288 monthly installment.

The loan has a 3.25% fixed interest, which sounds reasonable but really adds up. In the past 25 months, I’ve paid $7,500 on my student loans. Only $2,603.55 was paid on principle, and $4896.45 on interest! So, today after over ten years, I still have a total of $44k in student loans. This is obviously a financial bummer, because I was looking forward to getting rid of my monthly student loan payment of $288 by 2017 (still an additional $20k in repayment).



On a side note, I found a site that proposes forgiving student loans to stimulate the economy. I couldn’t agree more.


Do you have student loans?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Blessed is This Life

Between celebrating Earth Day and Easter, I didn’t have/give any time to our finances this weekend. Instead of worrying about goals, I savored the blessed abundance of our family. It was truly a marvelous weekend. 


My favorite quote from our Big Guy was right after we had said grace, “I love this world we live in!” I couldn’t agree more.





Here’s a video of one of my very favorite songs, which feels like my personal theme song lately – Blessed by Brett Dennen:




How do you feel blessed?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Earth Day Every Day

I love Earth Day. 


Earth Day reminds me of the history of social change, and how mainstream society is finally starting to take social responsibility for environmental issues. Read more in my post about the history of Earth Day.


I’m writing all the time about our efforts to reduce our environmental impact, while saving our money and creating family values. But sustainable living” is always a work in progress, and I don’t every want to come across like our efforts complete.


Here are my favorite family actions:

How does your family celebrate Earth Day?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.