A few days ago there was an open invitation by the writer of Casaubon’s Book to write about your day living with a smaller carbon footprint. Here’s what I did yesterday:
By the battery-powered clock on the mantle it is 5:10 when I hear my 14-year-old dog pacing – she needs to go outside, so I climb off the couch on which I’ve slept (it is more comfortable on my back than my mattress – and sits right in front of the fireplace) and put on my “fluffy feet” and robe over my sweatshirt and flannel pajama bottoms. I put her out, noticing the “trail of turds” along the way. While she is out I grab a plastic grocery bag and pick these up to toss. For 15+ years I have used cloth bags – now I need the plastic ones for just this task. I bring her in, grab the half-full bag of garbage in the house and go into the garage to collect the used cat litter and other bags of dog droppings, combine them and take them to the curb for collection – less than a full bag for the week.
I go into my office and turn on the laptop to check emails and read blogs. I keep one power-strip on at all times in my office – the one for the laptop, which also has the modem and cable phone service attached to it. When I have tried to turn off the modem at night it will often take several tries for it to work right in the morning, and I want to be able to use the phone at night, so I leave these on all the time. The other power-strip I turn off nightly.
I go back to the kitchen, light the gas stove with a match (it is unplugged), fill a pan of water and bring it to a boil. I pour it over the coffee grounds in my coffee maker (which is un-plugged), with the rest I make oatmeal (not yet purchased in bulk – but in large cardboard containers). I eat in front of the computer reading the newspaper on-line.
After breakfast, I do the dishes from this morning, those I didn’t do last night, and a few that I had put into the dishwasher to get off the counter.
For dinner last night, I made soup with the last of the butternut squash from my garden (I have quite a bit of soup already frozen). I ate a third and froze the other two-thirds. This morning I sort through the seeds pulled from the squash to dry over night – they are still pretty wet. I’ve never done this before – but I want to plant these seeds in my garden next year and I don’t want to store them wet.
At 7:15 I’m in my office again ready to start work for the day. No commute and no need for a shower today. My dog finds her spot between the wall and the filing cabinet; my cat sits on a cushion on the chair facing me. I turn on my other computer and printer from the power-strip. And, yes, I do need two different computers. My in-home office is perhaps my biggest energy consumer. Two computers, two printers, cable phone, internet and television, which I have on during the entire workday to watch the markets and business news. I email much of what used to be printed and mailed, but there is still quite a bit of printer paper (recycled) used in my day-to-day activities – and lots of paper received in the mail that I shred and recycle. In fact, my paper recycling for the house is located in my office – which is the biggest user of paper. (What happened to the “paperless society” we were promised?) About once every two weeks I drop this paper off at the paper recycling located at the local middle school, less than a mile from my home.
At noon I stop working and fix myself some soup (out of a can, probably shipped half way around the country – food is part I still really need to work on) and eat it at my desk. When I drop my bowl off in the kitchen I put away the dishes that have air dried, and go outside to get the mail and let my dog do her thing.
At 3:45 I flip off the one power strip in the office and leave for a community business owners’ association meeting less than a mile away. I had planned to walk, but mid-day had made plans to meet my mom at her house in the city for dinner and to help her set up her new printer, and I would already be going in that direction.
I drove 20 miles into the city to pick up mom and another 5 to the restaurant where I assure her that I have set my furnace at 52 degrees instead of keeping it off as long as possible (she’ll worry I’ll freeze to death and not even realize it). She tells me she doesn’t think it is necessary for folks to go to extremes like I have… that if everyone reduced 30%… but not everyone does. We both have friends who drive large gas-guzzling vehicles, go nuts buying everything under the sun at Wal-Mart (the evil “W” place as I refer to it), eat at some fast-food place for “at least” one meal a day, and/or refuse to suffer even the least amount of discomfort with regards to hot and cold – and we talked about that. We talked about how bad the public transportation system is in many areas (it would have taken me over 2 hours to get to her house this evening, and the buses would have stopped running to my area by the time I was ready to go home). And she tells me she is looking into moving to a green communal living community just being built in the city by some folks I met at a Step it Up rally last year, and who now have become members of our church. Of course she thinks I should move to the city… but I don’t see that happening.
Afterwards I dropped her off and head home (after dark I take a longer, safer route.) There was 50+ miles I hadn’t expected to drive this week – but I did have an enjoyable time!
I arrived home at 9pm to a dark house, put the dog out and changed into my sleep attire. I sink into the couch, pull the quilts up under my chin and watch tv until I fall asleep.