The other thing that we should be asking ourselves, as people who are easily outraged by deforestation/extinction/the virtual enslavement of developing nations/the oppression of the poor in our own country:
How am I complicit in that?
Because we are.
It isn’t a big thing. There are big questions, of course, and small ones. But mostly, this one:
Why do we (I) often let ourselves (myself) live so far from our own values?
I know a family who considers themselves to be devout Christians. Church three times a week, homeschooling, all that. And the Dad drives a Mercedes Benz sports car. I want to jump up and down and scream–what do they even preach in your church?
But I don’t, because I do the same things. I justify my consumer excesses because, compared to a lot of women, they aren’t that bad. I haven’t bought a pair of shoes in a year. I never eat fast food. I rarely buy chocolate. I still buy, buy, buy, though, even while my ideologies lean toward the minimalist and the environmentally-conscious.
I’m not good at separating need from want about the small things. Do I need the fancy beeswax-infused alternative-plastic-wrap I ordered last week? How about the fourth kind of sunscreen I’ve tried this year? Stress-relieving bubble bath? A new blouse, because they were on sale and my nice clothes are getting old? That bottle of perfume that I’ve been eyeing for the last six months? A new tube of lipstick, in this season’s color? The stuff I threw in with my hair product, to justify the price of shipping?
I think I need a new question for shopping. Need/want obviously doesn’t work well for me–I’m an over thinker; I can talk myself in and out of anything. How about Is this the way I want to live?
It’s also time to stop our piggy electrical usage. Which isn’t deliberately piggy, so much as lazy. Do I have powers strips on my appliances? Yep. Do I turn them off? No. Do I have fancy digital thermostats? Yes. Do I remember to run up the non-programmable one during the day, to cut down on the air conditioning? No. And so on and so forth.
Also, this house is excruciatingly inefficient. Gaps around the doors. Gappy single pane windows. Huge sun exposure during the summer, when it’s a zillion degrees. There’s only so much of that we can change as renters.
Goals: Stop being lazy. Turn off the power strips. Run up the thermostat. Cut down the lights. Find some non-invasive way to mount curtains or window film to the patio doors. They have 20 panes of glass a piece, window-film might be crazy. I doubt my landlord will like it if I drill holes in his door, and there’s no place to mount a tension rod. Maybe some kind of suction cups? Adhesive hooks? I’ll have to think through it.
So, here’s the relevant tracking:
April 2013: 697kWh
May 2013: 823 kWh
June 2013: 1117 kWh
July 2013: 1112 kWh
August 2013: 1351 kWh
September 2013: 1215 kWh
October 2013: 1160 kWh
I believe we were on vacation for a few days in May last year. Last summer was not flamingly hot; if we have a scorcher like year before last, all bets are off. In any event, I don’t have a good sense of how much of a difference I can make. I’d like to see some difference; that’s as specific as I’ll get.
Today I took off an acre of recycling. Okay, maybe not quite that much.
We don’t have curbside, and the city closed the U-Sort recycling drop. Now you have to go during business hours or on Saturday to the (admittedly, very nice) city-run facility. We procrastinate about this until we literally have no where else to stick the junk mail.
Fortuitously, I remembered that my last trip was March 8, right before we went on vacation. Today is the 23rd of April, which makes it a few days over six weeks since we went.
At the very nice city-run facility, they expect you to presort everything. To make this easier, I get some of our groceries in paper bags. It’s not perfect, but we just do not have room to store six different kinds of recycling bins.
Today’s paper bag tally, for six weeks:
1–with just a small layer of clear glass. We keep and reuse a lot of our glass jars.
1–completely full of colored glass
3–filled with plastic, none of which was crushed, including several gallon and half-gallon milk containers. (Milk in glass does not exist here.)
1–halfway filled with aluminum cans
1–less than half filled with bimetal cans
There was also a lot of paper/cardboard, but because it was multiple partial bags I didn’t count it. Maybe five bags of broken-down boxes, magazines (most of which have not been renewed for this year), and junk mail.
It’s obviously the three filled with plastic that I’m the most interested in reducing before I go to the recycling facility again.
I’ll let you know how it goes.