Monday, December 10

Kyoto Volunteer

As I surf the web for blogs I like, I get caught up in trying to categorize myself. I'm not a strict buy nothing new crowd, but I take inspiration from them. I still drive, but I've cut my gas use in half and continue to look for further ways to reduce my driving. I do carbon offset and buy green energy, but I don't think those are a total solution. I re-make things and fix things and hang out with friends and work on my house. I live in a big-ish townhouse that was built before I graduated from high school and I try to share it with people so all of us have a lower house-footprint, but I'm not really a small-houser.

So, if I had to draw a category that fit me and could include others, I'd say I'm a Kyoto volunteer. I'm trying to live as if the US had signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol. That's a blend of being a conscious consumer and politically active.

Since the US hasn't signed the Protocol and the federal government is in a place of studiously avoiding making concrete recommendations, I go north for some guidance. The David Suzuki Foundation is one of my favorite sites to go to when I'm looking at what to work on next.

The work itself is boring. Last week I took a can of expanding foam around the exterior walls of my basement. I didn't take temp readings before and after, but all the regular users of my basement report and improvement.

I also finally figured out what to do to reduce the drafts off my patio doors. The goal was to include the aluminum frame in the sealing and to still be able to let the dog and people out the door at daily intervals, while allowing to sunlight to come in. If the frame of the door was cladded and transferred less heat outside, I would have put bubble wrap on the glass. If I didn't need the sunshine or to be able to open it, I would have covered it with styrofoam insulation. If I didn't need the morning light to fight my SAD, I would have put up a window quilt. But on Small Space, Big Style last week, one of the architects was pointing out his use of thick gauge plastic sheeting as a room divider. I realized that's the stuff restaurants use to make a pass-through divider to freezers. That gave me the idea of buying the heaviest clear shower curtain I could find. I hung it taut over the patio door with two Hercules hooks and weighted the bottom down with phone books. I got a 15 degree difference from next to the door to inside the plastic sheet, which is helpful when it's 23 degrees outside!

So, I take some pride in the boring little stuff that may or may not make a difference in my heating bill. But I know that cutting down on gas use, home heating, and home electrical, while increasing the number of people what I do serves, then I am making advances in cutting my carbon emissions.

1 comment:

Megan said...

I've also been trying to find a way to describe myself! I'm pretty sure you're not a mom but you might find this interesting none the less.

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NotSoBigLiving is the story of a woman inspired by Sarah Susanka, Bill McKibben, Airstreams, Tumbleweed houses, Mennonites, Jimmy Carter, hippies, survivalists, Anasazi, Pema Chodron and Joko Beck, Scott Peck, Buckminster Fuller, and Al Gore to see what she can do to reduce her carbon footprint in her mid-80's suburban townhome. Strategies include roommates, alternative travel, organic eating, planting a victory garden, mindfulness, and a belly full of laughter.