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Following on the heels of excellent diaries by A Seigal  and Fishgrease, I offer my take on my approach to climate change: radical conservation. It's one of the three pillars of our energy future I have long taught: conservation; efficiency and clean energy.

Let me preface my remarks by saying that I live alone. So, I don't have to compromise with or offend a housemate, as I might right now as I sit here unshowered and unshaven this weekend day.

I sleep in an unheated space. It was 48 degrees F this morning. I've adjusted well to low temperatures under heavy bedding and ample clothing.

I also sleep without aircondioning in the summer. I love my wide-open window by the head of my bed. I love listening to the sounds of the night in my semi-rural setting. Some nights, it's very uncomfortable. I run a small fan and sleep in light clothing.

I line-dry all of my laundry and have for more than three years. It takes time. But, I've come to enjoy hanging my laundry out to dry. I confess that I can't imagine the effort this would require for a larger family. I find it peaceful and relaxing. Yes, my towels are a bit crispy. I have to my iron my work shirts and slacks. And, I hate ironing.

I don't hand-wash any of my dishes. I have an efficient dishwasher and all research and my own experience give evidence that the dishwasher is more efficient.

I take short showers using a 1.5 gpm showerhead with a trickle button for reduced flow.

I have a low-flush toilet (1.6 gpf Toto) that has never failed to evacuate its contents. And, yes, I follow the "if it's yellow" maxim.

I use efficient light bulbs, but I keep them off unless I really need them. Some visitors have accused me of living in the dark! I don't.

I purchased a grocery panier for my bicycle. I'm working to reduce my vehicle use, but when it's cold, I drive. Like I said, I'm working on this.

What works for you?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)

    Earth will survive. Humanity? Earth doesn't really care. Don't take it personally.

    by dpwks on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 07:23:23 PM PST

  •  We hang all our clothes, I use we but my wife (7+ / 0-)

    mostly does it as I don't do it right, I do take them down. We have two young kids too. It's not hard at all and the clothes are cleaner.

    We heat mostly with wood. There is the particulate matter but mostly the wood is scrap from my fence business. In land fill it would give off the same CO2.

    I lived for a long time without running water and my wife grew up carrying water from a village pump, so we are both careful. We use dishwater and stuff on the plants. Oh, and we garden like mad, even in the winter.

    Actually we don't try to conserve at all, we just do by habit and by the way we live. Almost all our meat is local game.

    The new freezers they make now are super efficient, one of our best purchases. Very small motor for a big freezer. No auto defrost.

    We all shower once a day. We flush every time. On some things I have to do as I'm told.

    We have a regular water heater but it's turned down low. Swamp cooler in the summer but we've started to use it less. Too noisy. We use the cool night air and close everything up in the early morning.

    We live in a small old style town. School five minutes walk, same with post office. Library ten minutes by bike, same with community center.

    Reduce, reuse, recycle.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 07:50:39 PM PST

  •  I admire you (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dpwks, chimene, ban nock, Words In Action

    and know that I could do much, much more.

    My own life is not that exemplary aside from recycling and a hybrid car.  
    I have one little hobby which is to flip off light switches whenever I am in restaurant restrooms or public bathrooms.  It seems so foolish to leave the lights burning when no one is there.  

    It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

    by Radiowalla on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 08:00:20 PM PST

  •  Got rid of my car nine months ago (7+ / 0-)

    That's by far the most radical I've gotten. I live in a place with great public transportation, but for the most part I walk walk walk everywhere, which I love.

    Switched all bulbs out to LED. Keep the thermostat in winter around 60 degrees (have no air conditioner). I'm vegetarian largely due now to environmental impact.

    A lot of this has to do with inborn frugality ... ever notice how frugality, environmentalism and healthy choices often lead to the same solution?

    My goal in the coming year once it's warm is to hang out at least half my laundry to dry.

    •  Owning no car is definitely radical! (4+ / 0-)

      Frugality is a great word to live by. I also have an indoor retractable clothes line so that (along with two drying racks for smaller items) I can dry my clothes indoors in the winter. I can't tell you how much I've come to enjoy hanging my clothes to dry.

      Earth will survive. Humanity? Earth doesn't really care. Don't take it personally.

      by dpwks on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 08:21:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  hanging laundry would be wonderful, if I didn't (4+ / 0-)

    live in a neighborhood close to several industrial processes that put off masses of particulate matter, partly toxic. I do clean the dryer vents religiously, for that efficiency.

    we have our 2d front-loading washing machine now. saves a LOT of water, I think. we shower daily (3 persons), so I have a LOT of towels, sigh. we don't change outer wear daily, so hot and cold washes accumulate at different rates, about 3 loads hot to one load cold. I do NOT wash underwear and bath/dish towels and bedsheets in cold water, I am convinced it's unhygienic.

    we wash dishes and glasses in the ancient dishwasher; pots and pans and silverware are done by hand. we actually cook; and the dishwasher wasn't able to get the ins and outs of silverware really clean.

    we also practice "yellow mellow" flushing, have insulated the toilet tank and have modified the float location (rather than using a brick). we have low-flow heads on all taps. also have chlorine filters on the shower and kitchen sink, the city is using chloramines instead of old-fashioned chlorine gas these days, 8-(; would love to have a whole-house filtering system.

    we have changed out many lights around house for CFLs, & all the shop lights. but only where they are not on long. my husband is sensitive to the flickering, buzzing & colors. we also have yet to find a CFL that lasts anywhere near as long as we're paying for (!)

    we ARE keeping an eye out for LED house lighting, but haven't really found any yet that we can afford ($20/bulb?). we are waiting impatiently for that!

    we have a lot of mold and mildew, and other, allergy issues, so we can't let the house get cold enough to condense excess moisture inside, during the winter; and we can no longer sleep with open windows (plant & industrial crud) during the warm. we buy the most energy efficient room AC units we can find.

    considering food sensitivities & other allergies, we have to travel all over town to food shop, sigh. we plan auto shopping trips very carefully. being retired gives us more options to schedule trips and we usually go out only every other or every third day. For several years now, we've been getting by with one tank of gas a month, and that's something, considering the gas mileage we get, 8-(.

    we do a lot of bicycle shopping during the dry parts of the year, and son does 3-4 bike runs a week to keep us in milk. Library branch, pharmacy, at least 3 groceries, all of our fast-food, and second-hand stores are in a comfortable 2-mi radius, so we do a lot of biking, more when it's not freezing and/or raining.

    we have great recycling options in this town, and having been raised by Depression/WWII's, we recycle religiously. my husband does lots of home and appliance repairs, both to save cash outlay, AND to keep from contributing to landfill. we use our fireplace carefully, and have spent a lot of time on improving the insulation on this old 50's tract house.  

    "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

    by chimene on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 10:24:29 PM PST

  •  Conservation for its own sake is splendid. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marsanges, a2nite, dpwks

    Conservation because someone says you should because you are otherwise [insert personal failing here] is just a quest for control.

    •  it will come (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ban nock, Words In Action, dpwks

      this control. People were much more used to it when times were tougher. Remember how the production of personal consumer goods was forbidden in the US during WWII? That was normal at the time.

      Remember that good parts of the US are in a severe drought? There, people are already being told that they have to conserve (water), at the pain of punishment. Yeah it´s "control". You can bet on that Climate Change will soon enough make much more of personal behaviour subject to "control". The absence of such controls is what brought us into this mess.

    •  Do you agree with Dick Cheney then? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dpwks

      "Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy." –April 30, 2001

      It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

      by Radiowalla on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 07:34:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Cheney was up to no good. (0+ / 0-)

        He was trying to make people think there were only two options: increasing the supply of conventional fuels or demanding the personal sacrifice that conservation often requires.

        Earth will survive. Humanity? Earth doesn't really care. Don't take it personally.

        by dpwks on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 02:06:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Not doing it because you are concerned (0+ / 0-)

      you are doing it for someone else or the planet should be avoided?

      I get your basic point but I don't see carrying it that extreme on something so important.

      We all do things we would rather not do because they are inconvenient and/or in some other way odious. Parenting is often inconvenient, but I wouldn't think twice about not doing it simply because I feel obligated to do so.

      If feeling obligated to someone or something is the only reason for participating in saving the planet, I say do it.

      The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

      by Words In Action on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:49:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You can either do it of your own volition (0+ / 0-)

      now and contribute to the solution or wait and be forced to do it, undoubtedly under worse conditions.

      The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

      by Words In Action on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:52:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  my one peccadillo, the one place I act a pedant (4+ / 0-)

    is water.

    We live in what is now the fastest growing town in a growing state, and surrounding the tiny old town we live in are all the housing developments, and every housing development requires a percentage of the front yard to be irrigated blue grass and to have X number of shade trees. (usually two and usually the kind that need watering.)

    Home Owner Association by laws can't be overturned by municipalities. We need to do something at the state level. I know that blue grass and a water sucking tree more suited to Massachusetts than Colorado is lowering the aquifer we all get our water from. The irrigated yards have that certain look to them but we need to face the fact that we live in dry land wheat habitat, not maple syrup.

    We need to change the laws such that people can choose not to irrigate without being fined. Also, if I were king,,,, progressive billing for water. 2000 gallons for free, then steadily increasing costs per thousand. Increased initial threshold for extra people.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 05:15:36 AM PST

    •  Agree. We live in a desert here in Salt Lake City (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ban nock, dpwks

      and an incredible amount of water from the mountains is devoted to green lawns. Ditto for St. George in S. UT, a resort and retirement community in an even more severe desert, not far from Las Vegas.

      The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

      by Words In Action on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:51:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A lot less buying, period. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoreLies, dpwks

    I have the means to be a very assertive consumer. And I used to be one. Being semi-retired helps, especially in the clothes department. Using the library more for books and music is huge, as I have a voracious appetite for both. My personal travel, which used 15K miles or more per year, is down under 5K. We eat out a lot less. I wear my pants and shirts more times between washing.

    The most radical changes are still ahead. After our younger daughter graduates in 2.5 years, we will be moving much closer to work (and the City library) -- cutting a 17-mile commute down to under 3, at least. More importantly, we will be reducing our living space by 60-80%! That's huge not just in terms of power-related energy consumption, but ALL kinds of household consumption. Maintenance, repairs, cleaning, supplies, you name it.

    At the same, I am actively researching "small" living and building with natural and/or reclaimed materials. I am getting close (>60 days?) to picking a non-profit or two and dedicating myself to this effort. While I help others with affordable, sustainable housing, I will be learning and working on what may become a solution for building a sustainable home instead purchasing/retrofitting one. Building codes and zoning regulations are big issues, as are public attitudes. It takes time to change them. I hope to help blaze that trail so that I and others have alternatives.

    The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

    by Words In Action on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:29:54 AM PST

  •  For those of us who are modestly engaged in (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoreLies, dpwks

    reducing our carbon footprints, I think it is important to be working on 2-5 year plans to work out much more radical solutions. For many people, I think, middle class people who have enough time in on the traditional path of consumption, one of the biggest opportunities, aside from a much more efficient, hopefully electric or hybrid car,  is to reduce the size of and supports the rest of the consumption. Many of us can adapt to much smaller spaces, and most who have done it love the freedom it has given them from all the effort in shopping, storing, cleaning and otherwise maintaining all the stuff. AND they have more career and time flexibility, because they have smaller monthly payments on housing and consumption.

    Beyond what we do in our lives, there's also ways to contribute to sustainability by helping others to live more sustainably.

    I have comment about my own activities and plans on this here.

    The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

    by Words In Action on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:44:08 AM PST

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