Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Using Less and Valuing More

Well, the energy and water bills are in for this quarter, so it's time to make a comparison with the same period last year. Our consumption of:
  • Gas is down by 8.5%
  • Electricity is down by 15.5%
  • Water is down by 8.9%

I am absolutely thrilled! And the best thing is that I don't think it has impacted on our lifestyle at all. We have simply tried to be mindful of what resources we are using. It's amazing what we can all do if we try.

So what have we been doing?

  • Not having mega showers, although from time to time we have to remind someone who is taking a while
  • Not heating as much - we reduced the temperature by about 2 degrees and covered up a bit more; we were still comfortable and upped the heat a little if people were sick
  • Consciously turning off lights and unplugging appliances not in use (except for the TV which is always plugged in because it's too hard to get to the plug and the clock radios and things like that)
  • Turning off our computers when not in use
  • Cooking some foods such as oats and rice by bringing them to the boil then turning them off and leaving them to cook in their own heat

Things we could do to further reduce our energy and water consumption include:

  • Eat more raw food ;} and/or obtain a solar cooker
  • Have shorter showers (we try to keep them short, but we're not turning the water on just to rinse or anything like that yet)
  • Install a grey water recycling system - we do put the water from the laundry out onto the garden (only with low sodium detergents, of course!) but we are not harvesting the water from the shower yet
  • Mulch more in the garden

I'm sure there's a lot more we could do; I don't think we are really doing the hard yards yet.

As for other areas of resource consumption, such as transport - we are using the bus more, but because my partner's children's other home is 90km away, trips back and forth do add up to a bit of petrol. Even so, we have reduced our petrol consumption to one tank or less per week. And growing some of our own food and trying to eat as locally as possible, means our food miles have come down as well.

The other side effect we've noticed over the past year is that we are generating a lot less rubbish. We no longer put our bin out every week and even when it goes out it is generally only half full. Most weeks we would only generate about two shopping bags worth of rubbish. Even the amount we put out for recycling has reduced, as we are endeavouring to re-use things before recycling - most of my purple asparagus seedlings are quite happily growing in tin cans and the potatoes are coming up through a cover of shredded paper.

The way I feel about all this was summed up nicely in an email from the Meditation Society of Australia the other day:

How inspiring it is to walk all day in the sunshine and sleep all night under the stars. What a wonderful experience in simple, natural living. Since you carry your food, sleeping equipment, etc., on your back, you learn quickly that unnecessary possessions are unnecessary burdens. You soon realize what the essentials of life are - such as warmth when you are cold, a dry spot on a rainy day, the simplest food when you are hungry, pure cool water when you are thirsty. You soon put material things in their proper place, realizing that they are there for use, but relinquishing them when they are not useful. You soon experience and learn to appreciated the great freedom of simplicity. - Peace Pilgrim

love and light


Anonymous said...

Never a truer word said....simplicity is beauty!

Doing the little things certainly adds up, I use the water from the shower warming for the washing machine and the loo, added a bowl for rinsing the dishes and we have cut 10,000 litres doing JUST that!

Great post girl!

Wendy said...

Sounds like some of the things my mother would do 'way back when. Like cooking rice or oats like you do. And unplugging appliances. Hanging laundry up - well she never did get a dryer until most of us kids were grown up. Oh, and all of us girls had to use the same bath water (when we were little, of course).
I must say I am not doing as much as Mom did - or you are. Except the stove top and oven. My mom also used to turn off the oven about 5 minutes before the roast, cake or whatever she was baking, was done. It does stay hot for much longer, but 5 minutes was enough.
Thanks for sharing your tips with us.

Rapunzel said...

Thank you for the reminders, there are certainly things we could be doing better here at the castle!