Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Impact of Low-Impact

Wow, Day 6 already. How’s everyone doing? I feel like the week went by so fast, I might just keep going for a few days… Here’s my progress so far:

1. Energy consumption: The A/C was off as much as possible, other than when our house guests were around this weekend. I unplugged the electrical appliances that I use regularly when I wasn’t using them – hairdryer, phone charger, sewing machine, lamps. I didn’t’ realize how many of our appliances’ plugs are so inaccessible – but I’ve noticed that this was a common theme for a lot of LIW folks. The tv wasn’t on too much, other than for Sopranos. My dear husband watched about the same amount, but we both read more than usual this week, too. However, last night, I thought he was watching tv in the living room, so I started talking to him. When he didn’t answer, I listened more carefully – he was actually in a different room watching tv…but didn’t shut the first set off! Grrrrr…so much for my positive example!

On a positive note, we installed the clothesline yesterday! I put in a load of wash before I left for work this morning (cold water of course), so I can take advantage of this extra-windy day when I get home.

I also ran outside on Monday. Jogging on an air force base is…different. I took yesterday off, but will be back out there to brave the elements again this morning.

2. Reduce water usage: I’ve been even more vigilant about my short showers and sink usage this week, and we haven’t watered the yard or garden once…thank goddess for these late-spring rain storms.

3. Change your food habits: ML and I had our local and/or organic meal on Sunday, which I also took as leftovers for Monday’s lunch. Last night Lowell and I enjoyed taco salad made with grass-fed, locally-raised ground beef, lettuce from the farmers market and organic tomatoes. Not much I could do about the taco seasoning… ;) I’ve also enjoyed an organic yogurt and granola parfait every morning this week for breakfast…yum! Other than that, there hasn’t been much cooking at our house – we went to dinner with some friends Monday night – a last meal together before they move to Minnesota. The menu promised that the chicken in my salad was free-range and well-treated, but I didn’t ask too many questions. I did, however, decline to take the leftovers home because of all the Styrofoam containers I saw on the other tables…plus salad doesn’t travel well…

I can honestly say I haven’t accepted a single plastic bag this whole week! I remembered to take my own bag almost everywhere, although it’s in the wash pile now after getting organic parfait on it. Oops!

As far as the eating vegetarian, or more correctly flexitarian – since I’m allowing locally-produced meat – I’ve done OK. Not perfect, as you’ll note in my chicken salad confession above, but I’ve had a lot of fruit and a lot of salads this week. Tonight I’m preparing locally-produced pork chops and the broccoli I bought from a community garden sale.

4. Reduce dependence on paper: I’m doing great with this. The husband? Not so much. Last night, he washed his hands in the kitchen and proceeded straight to the paper towels, completely ignoring the perfectly clean cloth towel sitting in front of them. I know it’s just a habit thing, but it annoys me. I wasn’t raised with paper towels – my mother did not buy them and they were a novelty when I used on at a friend’s home. I still don’t buy them, but the DH puts them in the shopping cart. Sure, they are nice when cooking bacon and other greasy foods, but for basic utility purposes like hand drying and cleaning, I think they are a huge waste. I still have my hand towel at work, and I managed to take one with me when I went out this weekend.

5. Reduce garbage output – I’ve been super gung-ho on the recycling front this week, and my compost pile is full (not pretty, but full). However, as far as the single-use products go, I slacked a bit on the cutlery front – I keep forgetting my silverware. The water bottle is still in use, though. Tonight I’m sorting through all of my “donatables” to take to the Jumble Shop tomorrow. Last night I signed up for Paperback Swap and will be sending out my first book tonight.

6. Reduce Single Occupancy Vehicle usage: this is a huge challenge for me. I live 20 miles from my job, with no one to carpool with, so there is about 200 miles a week I put on my car. Add to that dance practices and other activities across town. If I can combine several errands into a trip, I do – I don’t go out of my way to drive somewhere unless its necessary, but there isn’t much I can do about not driving – we’re just too far away! This was an issue for me when we moved into this neighborhood, and will definitely be a factor when we move again.

7. Do something that last more than a week – my garden is going well, I will be line-drying a lot this summer, and I’m loving the local food. We’ll see how well the compost bin goes – I’m not optimistic at this point. It’s sorta gross. But I can see myself making a lot of these changes permanent.

2 full days left – way to go, everyone! J