In a choice between the fight-or-flight response, I come down on the side of flight every time. After two days of contemplating the unbearableness of the state of the planet I moved straight into distraction mode. I finished reading a book on the historical roots of feminism that I didn't get through at university... twenty years ago. I did an editing job for a friend. I have discovered some lovely new blogs. I have counted the petals on the chrysanthemum in the vase on our dining room table (fifty six). I am stuck in that place between terror and action where nothing at all I could do seems relevant, sensible or likely to make any difference at all.
But, if I have learned anything at all in forty two years (forty two? How did that happen?) it's that really, you only have to think about the next thing. Sometimes, it's too overwhelming to do more. The next thing for me is lunch. How could I make my lunch work to lower carbon emissions? Well, it is heated up leftover Chili con Carne. The meat was from the supermarket, wrapped in plastic. I could go to the butcher's and have it wrapped in paper. That means it would also be local, reducing its food miles. The kidney beans were in tins, which are recyclable, but take a lot of energy to produce. I could buy them dry from the wholefood shop and soak them. If I remember. The tomatoes were my own. A win. Yay! The spices I bought home from the wholefood shop in paper bags. The oregano was from the garden. The salsa - made it myself too. Sour cream - plastic pot from the supermarket, brought from far, far away. Will recycle the pot and the foil. I know I could buy it in a paper carton. Can you make sour cream from ordinary cream? At least it could be local then. Then there is the rice, from a long way away. Should we not eat food with the many food miles at all? Should we limit them?
OK, so now I am panicking again.
I know I do not do well thinking about more than one thing at a time. So today I am going to continue thinking about electricity, and another day I will think about food.
Here are the ways we have reduced our use of electricity over the last year or so:
Not using our dryer. Except for the rare domestic emergency (not that domestic emergencies are rare here, just that they don't often involve the dryer. Anymore)
Reducing the number of hours our pool filter is on (we haven't contracted any water-borne diseases. Yet)
Weather proofed and insulated most of the house during renovations.
I've stopped using a hairdryer (and the girls haven't discovered the hair straightener. Yet)
I try to fill up the oven when it is on.
I've discovered I don't need a shower every day during the cold weather (my skin is so much happier about this. I've lost that slightly dry, slightly itchy feeling I was getting when my skin had too much hot water).
Here is what I have been doing over the last couple of weeks:
We have mixer taps in the kitchen and bathroom. You know how you turn the tap to hot, then have to run it for a minute or so for it to get hot, but you get impatient, and just use the cold water anyway? Well, for our 'instant' hot water system, it means it is using electricity to make extra hot water anyway, whether it gets to the tap or not. So our taps are now turned firmly to The Far Right at all times, which makes me really think about whether I need that hot water or not.
I saw Martha Stewart on some TV show, talking about green cleaning, and she declared that, unless they are really dirty, clothes only need a fifteen minute wash cycle. FIFTEEN! My front loader cycle of choice was fifty three minutes. Well, if it's good enough for Martha... So I have been washing our clothes on the express cycle, fifteen minutes. And they are just fine! The spin cycle isn't as fast, so the washing is slightly damper when it comes out, but that will probably preserve the clothes for longer. They still dry as well, even on the clothes racks downstairs in an unheated room. That saves over half an hour per load, and at three loads, five times a week, that is at least seven and a half hours of electricity a week being saved. I think that must be a win. Also, it is so quick to do the laundry. I keep forgetting about it, but even so, on a sunny day, everything is hanging outside before 9am, to enjoy drying in the breeze. That means a longer drying time, which is so useful in the winter. I am thinking that I will try soaking the 'dirties' for 24 hours, then putting them through the fifteen minute wash, to see if that is effective.
I took Judy's advice and eyeballed the point where one mug's worth of boiling water reaches in the kettle, and have only been filling to there. Kettle boils much quicker!
I don't iron a lot, just business shirts and school uniforms really, but I have told the girls I won't be ironing their school shirts this winter, because they wear jumpers over them; 'Whatevs,' was the response.
Next electricity-saving project: I think the time has come to bravely examine the length of our very hot showers.
Five Frugal Things
2 hours ago