Wednesday, April 23

Happy Earth Day!

Well, I'm gainfully employed again. At least for three months. I'm mostly doing data analysis, but I get to help the company I'm working for "go green" for a few hours a week. It's nice to be in a company that needs to tell employees to use the recycling they're already providing instead of being in one that says "no, you can't take the cardboard to the recycling center because recycling just makes a mess." Huh?

Anyway. In celebration of Earth day, I did some reflecting on what the last year held for me:

  • I got rid of the car that got 22 mpg and replaced it with a car that gets 34 mpg.
  • My driving was under 8,000 miles for the year vs the US average of 12,000 and my former 14,000. (When I went in to do my annual registration, my agent was surprised by the odometer reading... a 14 year old car with only 100,000 miles on it? :-) )
  • I bought one bag of disposable pads, which is still more than half full.
  • I have replaced nearly every incandescent light bulb in the house with a fluorescent bulb.
  • I cut my winter electrical use from 800 kwh to 400 kwh per month.
  • I used to use a box of tissues a month. I don't think I've used a whole box in the last year. Which means my handkerchiefs have paid for themselves.

The initial guideline that came out of the Bali meeting was that everyone needs to cut their emissions by at least 2% per year for the next thirty years, reaching an overall decline of 80% by 2050. (The Sierra club is pushing this number through their Two Percent Solution campaign.) So, what are my 2% plans for the upcoming year?
  • Initially, I am driving even less this year than last year. I am carpooling at least three days a week.
  • I think this is the year for replacing the fridge. Since my kilowatt hour use is down near 400, saving 20 kwh per month is a 5% savings.
  • I may do the tankless waterheater this year as well. I can't find my research right now, but this NREL study says that a low-use home can save about 21% going tankless over an electric water heater. I have gas, and I might not be a low-use home, but I think that might be another 5%.
  • I'm also going to look at composting options that will work for my dirt-less town-house.
  • And then, if the stars line up and everything is terrific, I still have two aluminum-framed patio doors and one single-pane aluminum-framed basement window that need replacement.
And then my long-term goals are to get solar installed on the roof of my townhouse and to put an electric engine in my Toyota Corolla.

Actually, that's just the personal side. Other goals are to get my church to replace some, and maybe all, of the decorative incandescent bulbs we have in the sanctuary with fluorescent bulbs, and to get secure, sheltered bike storage into the renovation plans. I also want to prepare and give some Sunday School classes on environmental stewardship, and maybe find a way to distribute the materials to others.

And I'd like to get my HOA to do recycling!

Okay, so the wish list is constantly growing. ;-) But I can't help being in love with the reality that there are so many really good things to want, and how huge the change is from 25 years ago, when I could barely go camping because all the really practical camping equipment was wool or down.

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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.