I came across a great article in the NY Times the other day about people who are trying to do go beyond conserving and recycling to radically reduce their carbon footprints. It describes the lifestyle of some people who are trying to shrink their family's energy use to 10 percent of the national average by growing most of their own food, spending only $1000 a year on consumer goods, air-drying their clothes and huddling together for warmth. Many people who have made radical changes to their lifestyles are often called "energy anorexics," "dark green" or put more simply, "fruitcakes". Blicky likes to call them "no good commie pinkos".
Dave Chameides, shown above, is collecting all of the waste he generates in a year in his basement and recording it in a blog. I also found a wonderful blog in Britain where a woman chronicles her attempts to create as little waste as possible in one week.
While people who are beginning to espouse a very different kind of lifestyle are derided as mildly pathological (you don't want to make any sudden movements around a dark green environmentalist), I think it's just the logical extension of recycling. I mean recycling is a buttload of work. You have to rinse the stuff so the squirrels and mice don't throw raucous parties your storage area. Then if you live in the boonies with no trash removal, you squish all of it into your (very fuel efficient Corolla) once a month because it takes that long to clean up all the property damage your toddler has inflicted while you got the last load in. You then hope that it's the stinky plastic jugs and not the jagged cans that are jammed in around said toddler's car seat on the way there. You then have to wonder if the doddering coot with the creepy toothless smile is checking out your bum while you lean in to grab the cardboard.
It's made my life a bit simpler in recent months to see where I can eliminate bringing stuff into the house. Here are a few things that I find have actually made life easier:
- I try to make everything I can. Yogurt is a snap to make in a thermos and it saves a lot of plastic. Ditto on snacks for lunchboxes. I do a lot of homemade gingersnaps and popcorn.
- Alright, so the homemade pasta machine I got on Craig's list for 10 bucks is still gathering dust but just think how many cardboard boxes that I will save when it works like it did in my fantasy.
- We get our milk delivered in glass bottles.
- I try, whenever possible, to buy local eggs and drop off the old cartons there.
- Until I no longer suck at gardening, I try to buy from farm stands and farmers markets because it's easier to throw things into a canvas bag.
Blicky is even getting in on the act. He has decided to forgo some extra items that he usually buys.
- His Halloween costume will be made by hand this year instead of insisting on a hand beaded one made in Thailand.
- He is giving up 2 of his 20 daily venti chai lattes,
- He is going to use acorns instead of plastic cutlery to pelt at hippie pinko's
- He's will only get one $389 cat bed for his guest room, rather than the matching pair
- He's resigned to turning the Hummer off now when it's in the driveway instead of hooking it up directly to the oil derrick in our backyard, although he'll miss the outdoor heating over the winter.