Friday, March 12, 2010

My Favorite Color

Green. :) Yes, I'm on a green kick. It's always been my favorite color, but now it's also a fascinating philosophy to me as well. I love the idea of saving a piece of wilderness and beauty for my family, and I know Steve loves the idea of saving waste-money (expenditures that really serve no purpose - excessive heating/cooling, late fees, cheap junk that breaks and needs to be replaced constantly - like our old bathroom scale that cracked right down the middle - yikes).

According to this Carbon Footprint Calculator, our estimated greenhouse gas emissions (as a two-person household) are 21 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent per year, which is below the national average (53 tons per two-person household). It's quite higher than the world average of 11 tons. Most people's trouble spots are driving/flying and home energy. Ours tend to be home energy and food and diet. We run errands throughout the week, but our only regular trips are to church on Sunday morning & night and Wednesday nights, and going to hang out with Jon & Kari on the south side of town. Since Steve walks to work every day and I'm working around the house the majority of the day, we don't travel a whole lot. We also didn't fly anywhere in the past year. However, we drove about 5k miles to see family in Wisconsin and to pick up the rest of my belongings. Overall, I find our result interesting and motivating. I want to see how low we can practically get that number. There's no way I'm going to substitute toilet paper with cloth rags. That's a little too extreme for me.

As I research ways to reduce my carbon footprint, I count 12 light bulbs currently lighting my living space. Those are just the lights I can see from where I'm sitting. Ridiculous! We have these beautiful iron light fixtures, but they all use four to six candle-shaped light bulbs. It's crazily impractical. Since we don't own the house, I've been thinking of putting lamps with compact fluorescent bulbs in each room so we don't use these ancient, energy-sapping lights. I know Steve will take some convincing, but if I can show him a little more cash in his wallet, I know he'll be more likely to jump on board. We all can use a little more money.

These are things I either have started doing or would like to start doing immediately to reduce my carbon footprint and improve my quality of life:

Reduce gas/oil consumption and pollution by walking and biking more places.

Buy local food (farmer's markets, bakeries, and Bob's Red Mill).

Great Harvest Bakery!

*Grain is grown in Montana, not locally. Not sure if this qualifies as local.*

Grow our own produce and trade with other gardeners. (tomatoes, lettuce, herbs)

Cook at home more often rather than eating out and using disposable utensils and packaging.

Beef & Broccoli Stir-Fry

If needing to buy something, try to find it used first (thrift stores/Craigslist) or create it at home (sewing, building).

Use only cloth shopping bags.

Turn off lights and appliances when not needed.

Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving bulbs.

*Use lamps with one-bulb or even beeswax or soy candles instead of multi-bulb light fixtures.*

Make energy-saving home repairs: windows, doors (esp. mail slot), closing the fireplace flue.

Put on more clothes or put a log in the fireplace to reduce the cost of heating the whole house.

Fill a reusable bottle with filtered water from home instead of purchasing bottled water.

*Also to replace plastic cups when buying fountain drinks.*
(I could skip fountain drinks altogether, but Steve LOVES his Pepsi.)

Read books and play board/card games instead of watching so much TV & playing video games.

I'm excited!

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