Thursday, November 8, 2007

environmental pondering

A post from another blog - lowercase numbers: the link is just over to your right - challenged folks to try to walk a little instead of just hopping in the car. My knee jerk reaction was 'Yeah right, tree-hugger boy. Easy for you to say. Try that idea with small children!' But honestly. How much harder is it to strap the wee ones into a stroller instead of into their car seats? Who doesn't need the sunshine? And how about getting myself moving a little more often? What better excuse than doing my small part to save the planet?

That challenge - thank you Mr. Pulsipher, and sorry, I don't remember how long ago it was offered, but it has indeed been a while - got me thinking about small things I can actually do to use less energy - fossil fuel kind or non-renewable, that is. It would actually not be so bad if I expended more energy. So now, if it's a minor grocery run, we walk it. This also has the benefit of actually only buying what is on my list, instead of everything that looks good. One benefit of where we live in Wrongmont is that we are just one block off of Main St. - easy access to many fine eateries such as Good Times, Chipotle, and Three Margaritas, as well as fine shopping Murdoch's Ranch Supply and, my childhood favorite, BigK. We even took a stroll over to the monster Wallmart before our trip out West - even though I HATE Wallmart, the walkability of it won over hopping in the car and going to Target. Insanity. It's a whole new Kat! The car trip that we've cut out that struck me as the silliest was to the park. There's a pretty good park about a mile away, which we used to drive to most of the time. Let's hurry up and drive to go play! That's just funny to me. Half of the fun is the getting there. And if we actually get to wait for a train, it's like Christmas morning for little Katie!

Other painless changes:

  • Switching out incandescent bulbs to CFLs as they need changing. A little pricey at first, but they should pay for themselves in no time.
  • Hanging a few loads of laundry out on the line instead of using the dryer. I admit I'm not ready for crunchy, scratchy towels, but I actually like the feel and smell of sheets that have dried outside BETTER than ones dried in the dryer. Bounce tries hard to recreate that smell, but nature wins on that one.
  • Garden/canning adventures. We are not self-sufficient over here . . . yet. But we're practicing. With Roger 'McGyver' working his magic on the watering system and grow boxes, we're getting a pretty good little garden going. I just need to figure out how to keep the poachers out of my blackberries! There are a fair number of man hours involved in the canning process, but in a couple of days I canned 20 quarts of apple juice and 42 pints of apple sauce, all with fruit from a tree that we do little in the way of taking care of. The grapevine that we don't even water yielded approximately 25 quarts of juice as well. And my cost, outside of sweat? A trip to Boulder to borrow all the equipment from my mom! :)Since I'm not ready to grow EVERYTHING we eat yet, buying locally-grown produce and making more things from scratch are relatively painless changes too.
  • We've (by 'we' I of course mean Rog) started to install low-flow toilets, experimenting with our place first. Jacuzzi makes a nice one that actually works well - the American Standard did not have adequate power for our needs, shall we say. The city pays $50 for the old toilet, and we easily saved $20 off our water bill with just one toilet changed out.

Just some musings. Once again, I've been surprised at what actually paying attention to things in my little world shows me. Bottled water has been making me shake my head lately. Buy a Nalgene bottle and a water filter if you really need one! Why so much plastic?! Guess a little Berkeley rubbed off on me after all!


Mia said...

I have pondered Dave's challenge on and off since he issued it. First the excuses. I don't have a double stroller and I don't think Zo could make the 3+ mile roundtrip to the grocery store. There are very few sidewalks where we live. Bottom line, I'm a slacker... When we moved in to our house we bought a huge package of those CFL bulbs (fron Costco) and use them as the old ones burn out. We have the A.S. low flow toilet. It isn't sufficient for our needs either. I buy bottled water for my water storage, but it is a huge consumption of plastic (will give this some thought).

kat said...

That silly A.S. low-flow is beyond irritating. It would clog with one square of toilet paper. I'm telling you - the Jacuzzi one will knock your socks off. It works like a dream. And I think the Depot sells it for $130.

Mia said...

We are going to check them out maybe put them on the Christmas list ;)

Disco Mom said...

I have been lame on the blog-reading lately - haven't read pulsipher's in forever but obviously I need to get over there. One of the things about living in NY that bugged me at first is now one of my favorite things - that walking is usually easier than driving. Parking and traffic make driving the least efficient way to get almost anywhere, and many weeks we only drive to and from church once a week, and across the street on street-sweeping days. We usually use less than a tank a month. We walk everywhere - bank, library, park, grocery store, playdates. The double stroller is a life saver, and although walking is time-consuming and cargo-limiting, I've adapted. It's actually handy to stroll into the store, no unbuckling or baby-transferring required. If they fall asleep, let them sleep as we shop. Of course, NY is made for this so everything you need is within 20 minutes walking. When we move back to normal living I will actually miss that a lot.

As for those light bulbs, I tried them after seeing Leonardo diCaprio push them on Oprah, but they hurt my eyes. I'm very particular about my indoor lighting, oh well. But a low flow toilet is something I could get into, once I enter the world of home ownership and all the associated bills.

dävid said...

this is an OLD challenge my CU-alum gals....

kat - you are welcome.

mia, there will always be excuses... what's that charming phrase, excuses are like ____ ?

small things make a difference. i just want to bear my testimony to you guys that looking for ways to get out of your car and onto your feet or bike will make you really happy.

your wallets, butts, and bodies will thank you.
with every fiber of my being,