Thursday, May 31, 2007

90% Reduction Plan

All right, I’ve been working on my reduction plan. I know I’m doing this at the last hour, but here goes. This project is going to be hard to do with two people in the house (at least for the summer), one of whom isn’t involved. But I’m going to do my best.

1.) Gasoline. Current Usage: 336 gallons per year. Goal: 50 gallons per year. This will be tough, given that I live in an area without public transit. My primary destinations are: school (5 miles round trip, 3-4x a week, depending on the semester), the artists market (10 miles round trip 1x per week), my grandmothers (20 miles round trip, 1x per week), and church (10 miles round trip, 1x per week). I also occasionally have to run to the store as well. That’s 60 miles, or roughly 2 gallons of gas, a week. Right there that’s a 104 gallons a year, or more than twice the allowed limit. But, I still use another 232 gallons of gas a year, and there I definitely have opportunities to cut. So here’s my plans to cut:
-limit trips to the store and farmer’s market to no more than twice a month, preferably once. (Save in the event of an emergency.)
-limit social outings to twice a month.
-limit trips to the library to twice a month, and only then on the way home from church (it’s on the way).
I’m also going to Canada for ten days in August (a trip that I’ve all ready had planned) so that will burn some gas. But, I am going by bus so that will fall under public transport.

2.) Electricity. I’m screwed as far as getting down to 90kWh per year is concerned, since I have an all electric house. Since my power is renewable –at least the first 300 kWh/month –this is not the highest on my list to reduce below the 300 kWh/month mark. Toward that end I’ll be making some changes though:
-keeping the ac off as much as possible (once the smoke clears, at any rate)
-unplugging the microwave when not in use
-reducing the amount of laundry I generate, and always using the clothesline
-trying to cook only two or three times a week, and trying to bake only one day a week.
I’m not going to be getting rid of my fridge like some are doing. I use it to keep leftovers, and to freeze food for future meals. This is crucial to my being able to eat right during semesters. Once I get out of school this won’t be so much of an issue.

3.) Heating and Cooking Energy –not applicable; included under Electricity usage above.

4.) Garbage and Recycling. Garbage –for my personal trash production I’m almost there. I’m going to work on reducing the amount of packaging coming into the house. I’ve been working on this for some time but obviously have more work to do. But how the devil do I reduce the amount of cat litter and waste? Any ideas?
Recycling –I am a BIG recycler. I try to recycle everything, including a lot of things that would go into other people’s trash. Cardboard boxes, cans, plastic bottles, and glass, all go to the recycler. I’m not sure how much I produce, so I need to measure this, but it’s obvious I need to cut down on the number of canned goods and boxes coming into the house.

5.) Water –I’m going to install rain barrels to use for watering the ornamentals (when it finally rains again). And I’m going to start using more graywater. I also had to talk to my brother about his water usage yesterday. Not because of this project really, but because of the drought and my pocketbook. The boy is a water hog –he can’t stand taking less than a twenty minute shower everyday. (Sometimes twice a day.) He has literally doubled my water usage in the few weeks he’s been here. So I spoke with him and he’s agreed to do better.

6.) Consumer Goods –I’m about there right now, thanks to compacting and a frugal sensibility. I need to find out how food plants fits into this though.

7.) Food. I’m going to get all my fresh fruits and veggies exclusively from my garden and the farmer’s market. I’m going to start eating more fresh foods as opposed to bulk. I’ll start canning and freezing more of my own food instead of buying so much canned foods. I’m going to reduce the amount of dairy and all processed foods still further –crackers, chili, etc. I am also going to extend my garden beds so that I can grow more of my own food, and this fall I hope to try my hand at small scale grain production (in the form of oats).

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


Here are just a few off the top of my head comments that may help with items 1 & 2. The downside is that they may involve a bit of initial cash outlay. My car gave up on me some time ago and selflessly sacrificed itself for the greater good and went to the great recycling park in the sky. I replaced it with a 50 cc scooter which is a lot more fuel efficient and is cheaper on taxes and insurance. They are easy to drive, no gears, just turn the throttle and it goes. My wife got a new one and I got a secondhand one which figures and over here at least, you can drive them with a car license, you don’t need to do a separate motorbike test. One with a big enclosed plastic box after the saddle is a big help for shopping. Whether you keep the car for winter days is up to you but they are a lot more fun but they are not allowed on the freeways.

Do not get rid of your fridge or freezer, they are probably the only over, or at least near unity (energy output to input) devices that you are ever likely to have in your house. People only consider the cold they produce and forget about the heat which is thrown out of the back. Here is a cute idea. If you have a large built in cupboard or a very small room, place the fridge or (and) freezer in there with open wooden shelves above and use these to dry your washing. If you fold items up after they come out of the spin dryer then you probably won’t have to do any ironing either. Now you have two options, either vent top and bottom to ensure air flow and get rid of the damp air or completely seal the drying space (cupboard / room) and install a dehumidifier which because of the heat from the fridge will only use the water condenser to dry the air and hence washing. This is a lot more efficient than a tumble dryer.

I hope that these daft ideas are a little bit useful to you.

Norman from Belgium.

6/08/2007 5:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the cat litter question -- I know there are some compostable forms of cat litter, which tend to be better for the cat as well (and you may already be using them for all I know!). If you composted it, then you'd have more nice rich compost for your garden, and that would essentially eliminate cat litter as a form of trash. That is harder than veggie composting, and I've never actually done it, but it might be something to keep in mind.

6/09/2007 10:20 AM  
Anonymous hvc said...

have you considered just getting a bike- not a motorcycle or anything fancy, but just a run of the mill bicycle? most of your trips are under 10 miles round trip, which is only 5 miles each way. I'm not sure where you live, but here in Chicago there are people commuting via bike through all sorts of weather extremes- kind of a neccesity since our public transit costs are skyrocketing.

7/12/2007 11:31 AM  

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