Suggestion for the reusable bags:
Put the rest of them in one of the bags, put the bags by the door. remember to take them when you go out. All of the ones you don't use, leave in the car. Upon finishing shopping, throw them all back in one of the bags and repeat.
Admittedly, there are times I still forget them by doing that, but more often than not I have them.
That's pretty much what we do. The key is "remembering." Not always happening.
You may have missed the part where I said it's been some time since we didn't have them along...
Turning lights off is apparently an XX-linked trait. I automatically (from not wanting to heat the house, habit begun in south Texas) turn lights off when I quit washing dishes, cooking, leave a room, etc. Someone else leaves them on--I'll come into an empty kitchen and find three lights on (over the sink, over the stove, mid-room ceiling.) I turn them off.
It's reversed here. The wife keeps complaining that she's living in a dungeon. I say: if all you're doing is cruising the net, what have all the lights on in the room? Why have the light(s) on in a room that no-one is currently occupying?
2009-09-01 05:16 pm (UTC)
My wife doesn't complain, but otherwise, yeah, she leaves lights on and I turn them off.
It is very difficult to have horses and keep your car use to a minimum. At a certain point, the only way to reduce car use is to make really drastic lifestyle changes... and for you many of them would involve giving up the land or the horses, which I think would cause greater problems than car use.
If you're trying to minimize travel related pollution, increasing your bus or train use *might* be more feasible. Air travel is very high pollution, and cars, buses and trains are much less problematic. (and yeah, this one is hard... where I live there is only freight rail service, and it's a 3 hour bus ride to the nearest train station)
I know putting in solar panels is quite expensive. Is it something that's worth saving up for tho? I was really surprised, but even as far north as PA, you can get a well designed house powered off the solar on less than half the roof (my parents' place will be fully solar powered once the last row of panels goes in). In TX, there might be more benefit. Something longer term and cheaper is going to a roofing material that lets you make some/all of the collected rainwater potable. Either one seems like a good long term bang for buck.
I know of at least one person who has built a solar power shed where the solar panels are on the roof of the shed and all that. The panels also stow relatively easily in case the shed needs to be moved.
Have you seen the LED bulbs with many LEDs simulating an ordinary old incandescent? Even less wattage and longer lasting than CFCs, and several color-temps are available. REALLY pricey, but I hope they'll be coming down. Elliott's Hardware in Dallas (my store for when I want a good selection, not just the most popular brand) has several types.
(Advertisement -- if you are in Dallas, visit Elliott's at Maple and Motor Streets. If you are like me and like to browse practical gizmos, you won't get out for a couple of hours.)
I'll be going to LEDs hopefully sooner rather than later. CFCs give me migraines and the flickering really bothers my eyes. I can't imagine what I'd do in the countries where incandescent bulbs are being banned, I already can't go in most shops or work environments without getting a migraine. Unfortunately LED technology just doesn't seem to be up to par yet, all the reviews I've seen have been pretty poor.
This is a great check-list, and good for inspiration and motivation. We're doing well on food--raise most of what we eat, meat and vegetables and eggs, and buy most of the rest locally, or at least Texas-sourced. Not doing so well as far as water goes; we need to get busy on those rain collecting barrels this fall! We have to take our recycling to a local waste processing center, so that costs gas; not sure about the balance of payoff there. I always use shopping bags, and recycle the occasional plastic bag I seem to end up with from time to time. Our house and barn are both all-electric, so I'd love to add solar panels, if it weren't so darned expensive. We drive a lot, partly because we live outside of town (which is why we can raise most of our food--another payoff), partly because I commute to work about 70 miles one way, some days. I do drive a Prius, so it could be worse. But our other car is a truck.
There are now CFLs in a variety of color temperatures. Here at Nuevo Casa del Crider Sur, I've gone with a lot of the "daylight" (6500K) ones in much of the house because of the color of walls & trim, and the bluish cast from those works better (yellow cast looks dingy). Except in the kitchen, which has a bit lower "cool white" 4100K color on the flourescent tubes in the overhead fixture. If I was doing it over again, I'd probably go with the 4100K color temp throughout. It's a good "true-color" bulb and meat, etc. look good with it.
This house is a rental and thus I'm making do with the wall colors (though I have a lot of time on my hands right now being between jobs, I don't have cash for paint).
My stage/video lighting designer pal here likes the yellowish stuff in his own house, but their color scheme lends itself to that, whereas it looks really dingy and jaundiced in my house. He gave me crap about my 6500K bulbs until he came over here and saw it and decided I was right for this house. :)
Yeah, no two houses are alike in terms of room shape, whatever color the walls are now, ambient light, etc. I was sure I'd hate replacing the curtain on the window by my desk and am now delighted with the new one--but it's white sailcloth and the city water has gone dingy yellow-brown with iron and sulfur bacteria, so all my whites have turned beige. Hate beige. Not a beige person. Anyway--the white curtain, instead of the red-and-white curtain, makes the light in the room good for working.
Here in the UK the shop assistants have all been trained to ask whether you really want a bag, rather than automatically give you one; the major supermarket chains give you points on your loyalty card for bag re-use, too.
Yesterday we were in the supermarket on our way home from a few days in the country, but only had one shopping-bag - the others were full of my mother's home-grown fruit and veg, and some frozen trout and raspberries wrapped up in newspaper to keep them from thawing out before we got home. So trying to fit the normal 2 bags of grocery shopping into one was a touch tricky - ended up with me carrying the bread separately. "You could have a bag!" said the checkout operator, but we didn't really need one!
I find I now feel guilty if I go to the supermarket unexpectedly and don't have a bag with me - the only time we ever take the car there is if we are on the way to or from somewhere else, as we have two within walking-distance, so bags in the car don't work for us.
But it is very awkward when travelling, as I try to pack a plastic bag to put in-car rubbish and dirty picnic cutlery and crockery in, and sometimes I have trouble finding one!
Yeah, we used to have a plastic bag full of wadded-up bags, whenever we needed a nice clean (but used) plastic bag. Now...we don't.
I find "cool" CFLs to be a lot more likable than the "warm" ones that are commonly sold. The cool ones are a little harder to find and a little more expensive but not enough to matter much. Where I have more than one bulb, I pair a cool bulb with a warm one which gives results that I like better than either type of bulb alone.
For buying produce, it is possible to get light-weight mesh bags meant for that purpose. I used to have a couple of them and they worked nicely until they got lost.
In my study I have a pair of CFLs (still less wattage than one incandescent bright enough to do any good) of different colors and that does help--except that some cast shadows are blue and some are pale orange, which looks weird. I try not to see it.
Used ink cartridges from the ink-jet printer
there are several stores that recycle ink jet cartridges, I get mine refilled at Walgreens, and they support a program.
We have mostly CFLs, except in the kitchen & study we have the old-fashioned fluorescent lights (aka shop lights) under plastic diffusers. I guess I am used to them -- can't tell the diff about food colors.
We are looking into replacing some windows this year (some are double paned where moisture has seeped in between) and hopefully we can use the federal credit (although I understand that it's pretty strict about the quality of the new windows).
I tried composting and I ran out of space (have to do it in plastic bins because of HOA rules) but the batch I did do seems to be coming along nicely.
I have the same problem remembering to bring the reusable bags to the grocery. I think I just have to train myself to throw them into the car as soon as they're empty. Btw, I love aluminum lined grocery bags (to keep things cold).
The rain water collection you're doing is awesome. That's on my wish list, to collect rainwater for garden use.
We still have a few old-fashioned fluourescent lights--bathroom & over the sink, and I hate them--they flicker and buzz (sometimes the CFLs buzz or hum and that also drives me nuts--I have to put in earplugs.)
Windows--I would love to be able to replace our 50 year old windows with double-paned high-quality ones. That's not on the budget list for this year, though. Stuff happens. (I think I posted months and months ago about how the supposedly quick and easy and inexpensive toilet replacement turned into the week-long and expensive home repair project that required replacing sections of bathroom floor...) Then there was the emergency dental stuff for someone in the family and then...etc.
The thing is, a lot of us try to do what we can, and we choose the project that fits a) the budget of time as well as money, b) the space available, c) the perceived benefit to both the environment and ourselves. It's the mindfulness that counts, I think. Being aware, thinking about it, finding the small ways that add up but are doable for you, in your life, with your schedule/budget/space. Most people cannot afford to put in enough solar or wind generation to supply all their electricity. Most people do not have the space (or expertise, or time) to grow all their own food. Some people live where rainwater collection is prohibited (I think they should lobby to change the rules/ordinances/laws, but some would disagree.) So within the limits life already puts on us, a lot of us are trying one little thing after another. I'm opposed to guilting people (well, except a few people I would happily pile guilt all over, but that's another topic!) and constantly telling them what they could and should do...there are plenty of suggestions out there floating around, and the tendency is to pile on more. If someone says they're doing X, someone will then say "But you could also do Y!" (You can see it in the comments here, though I stated up front I wasn't looking for suggestions.) And maybe that person couldn't do Y...it's not a possible choice for that person. Instead I think we (me, you, the world at large) should be offering "Attagirls" and "Attaboys" to the people doing *anything* helpful to the environment, thanking them for what they do. Telling them it's not enough is likely to rouse resistance, defensiveness, even denial.
Decades ago, back in the 1970s, I had a prof in grad school who was already concerned about the garbage problem and mentioned (but without laying guilt on the class) that his family put out only a certain amount every week, because he had become concerned. Some of us in the class (I among them) looked at what we put out and made changes...just because we had learned what was possible.