Day Five: Replace kilowatts with ingenuity

At first glance, this challenge seems … unchallenging. “Explore no-energy alternatives to accomplish your daily tasks.”

Of course, I’m typing this into my desktop computer, which needs electricity. Strike one. (Working on a laptop uses less energy). I’m working by natural light and am wearing a down vest to keep the chill of the day at bay. Our thermostat is programmed to start it’s journey down to 63 degrees at 5PM and back up to 69 starting at 6AM. I know a couple people who have their heat jacked up to 75 so they can run around in shorts AND open windows for fresh air. That is just… I have no words for it.

It’s a rainy day so instead of my usual outdoor run, I have to admit, I used the eliptical. Strike two. While watching TV. Strike three. I did, however, turn off the entire TV and cable box afterwards knowing that a TV eats 25% of it’s lifetime energy while “off.” It’s never really off, if you’ve noticed the light(s)–it’s in a sort of TV limbo, sipping on energy so that it’s ready to jump into full action when you turn it on. Unplug the whole system and you’ll just have to wait a few moments longer to start watching.

My husband and son are not thrilled with this TV turn-off habit of mine because it results in making the cable guide useless, listing every time and channel as “To Be Announced”. This, in turn, requires taking the time to flip through more channels, using up time. We can avoid this by looking up the guide on the internet before turning on the TV. We limit our son to one hour of screen time (computer or TV) per day, while I know many who leave the TV on all day. I’ll never understand that one. Eliminating TV and computers altogether would certainly improve our carbon footprint and our relationships–we had a cottage with no TV when I was growing up and we read and played board games a lot. We’d go out exploring for hours. The TV was not missed at all that I can recall.

I’d love to say we use green energy, but we don’t have the funds to put in solar panels or a install a wind turbine. Switching to green energy cuts carbon dioxide emissions by an average of 35 percent. And we’d end up saving money. We’re currently investigating whether green energy is available in our area.  Find out if you can buy green energy in your state.

The house where nobody lives. That’s what people think when they drive by at night.  No outdoor lights, unless we’re having company; indoors we go as long as possible before turning on the lights–sometimes we don’t turn them on at all. And, 99.9% of the time (this statistic is thrown off by my husband), a light is on ONLY if we’re in that room. Many times we’ll eat dinner by candle light–say no to paraffin candles! These are made from petroleum byproducts and emit the same toxins as diesel fuel! 100% beeswax candles are a great option. They burn clean and longer than conventional candles. (side note: If we sit in our living room in the front of our house, which has a picture window, cars actually slow down if we happen to have the lights on!)

Our computers and printer are shut down every night and we unplug chargers… it would be best to unplug everything (except the fridge)–this is an area we need to work on.

One suggestion from No Impact Man, Colin Beavan, is to wash your clothes grape-stomping style. Uh… that’s where I’ll have to draw the line. His family was able to eliminate the laundry machine, TV, refrigerator… and slept following the natural rise and fall of the sun.

Here are some more manageable changes you can make:

  • Skip the elevator and take the stairs
  • Dry clothing on a clothesline or drying rack (I do this with some clothes, but have to admit the clothesline is probably not something I’ll do until I’m retired).
  • Reduce your laundry loads (and even dry cleaning) by using the all natural and chemical-free Refresh’n Dryer Towel. Just toss it into the dryer wet with a few items and 15 minutes later your clothes are ready to wear!
  • Minimize your need for the oven and stovetop –there are many “raw food” options that are actually quite delicious.

Day Six: Use less water

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