Friday, March 7, 2008

Quite a Riot

Do you, uh, riot? The Riot for Austerity was the brainchild of a couple of green moms, determined to show the powers that be that they could live lighter - a whole 90% lighter - than the average American. Why 90%? Because that was the amount by which those of us in the Western World needed to cut our emissions to avoid the worst effects of global warming. The idea gained steam as more and more signed up to slash their emissions by 90%. Today, the 90% Reduction yahoo group boasts over 400 "rioters" who work to reduce their "footprint" in 7 different categories.

I joined the Riot last fall and have been whittling away at my numbers ever since. I have quite a way to go in most categories but here are my (belated) numbers for the month of February:

1) Gasoline: 35% of average. Down from last month and hopefully a downward trend but this is one of the toughest categories at the Green Bean Homestead. We've cut back and consolidated errands and I walk the kids to school and to errands when I can. Hopefully, I can chip away at it with warmer weather.

2) Electricity: 59% of average. Down from last month by a hair. As summer comes and lights are on less, the clothesline is more effective, this number will come down. If you get your energy from renewable sources, you can calculate your electricity usage more favorably. Unfortunately, my utility only offers carbon offsets (we do them) and not wind, hydro or solar power. Yes, we could get solar panels on our home but I'm still dreaming of trading the 'burbs for the country so is not an investment that would make sense.

3) Heating and Cooking Energy: 18% of average. Way up from last month, which was only 6%. Apparently, I need to turn the thermostat down more. ;-)

4) Garbage: 9% of average. Down and should continue to stay in the targeted bottom 10% of waste. This is my favorite category to drop because it's so dang easy! I'm not the only one who thinks so either.

5) Water: 25% of average. Ug! This is up and will only continue to go up now that the rainy season is over. Sure, I can ignore what's left of the lawn but all my baby edibles need water! I haul out the cleaner greywater for watering ornamentals and fruit trees but there is only so much hauling one woman can do. Until I can bribe Mr. Green Bean into building me a fancy greywater recycling system, any ideas for alternatives?

6) Consumer Goods: 22% of average. Holding steady. I splurged and bought some knitting supplies and some hot water bottles for the kids that, frankly, could have waited until next fall as the weather warmed up. I also got some wonderful finds at the local thrift shops but, the beauty of buying at thrift shops is that, under Riot rules at least, it doesn't actually count as shopping!

7) Food: 72% local, 13% bulk, 15% wet/other. Riot aims for 70%, 25% and 5%, respectively. This is a little better than last month and I suspect that we'll eat more locally grown as spring and summer come. All of our produce comes from local sources year round. However, we tend to eat more produce and less other stuff when summers' bounty smacks us upside the head.

If you are interested in seeing how your efforts stack up against the average American, gather your numbers and check out the Riot for Austerity's nifty calculator. It does all the work for you. Now if it would just clean my house and bake my bread. I'm quite a riot, aren't I? ;-)


Anonymous said...

thank you for posting the link to the nifty riot calculator! i've been working on these areas and the calculator will be very helpful! i really enjoy reading your blog. you are doing a great job in all areas. your dry humor on the winter eating post continues to make me smile and keep my spirits up.

Burbanmom said...

Sweet numbers, Bean! I SO WISH we had access to year round local produce! But, at least I've got my local fish... Great Job!

Green Bean said...

Thank you, anonymous! I really appreciate that you enjoy the blog and that I could bring a smile.

Burbs: Thanks! Yeah, we are super duper lucky to have all this produce and I hope more and more people here, at least, avail themselves of it. At a miniumu, there is no reason not to eat local in California. I'm assuming your CSA is not year round but as more people become interested maybe they can at least extend their growing season slightly?

Kate said...

Oh I hear you on the grey water lugging... We're on water restrictions here (it's illegal to water the garden except between 6-8am on Tuesdays and Saturdays) and we hardly ever (maybe once over the summer that's just finished) got up to water with fresh stuff. The rest has to come from our washing machine and showers. This means that conversations held while the washing machine is on tend to be interrupted by my partner running to the laundry to watch the bucket filling with water and make sure it doesn't overflow.

If your washing machine is near a window to the outdoors you could try getting the hose to go direct to the garden and a big bucket. Ours is in an internal room, so it's all buckets and lugging through the kitchen.

We also have lots of buckets outside (and an old baby bath) to collect rain water. Good luck! You've got very impressive numbers.

Shannon Hodgins said...

I just read burbanmom's numbers too! Blog surfing on a Saturday night here.....

I think I'll try it, but I'm a bit scared of my numbers due to our commute to work. Shannon

Green Bean said...

Kate: In a way, I wish we had mandatory restrictions - then it would drive home to everyone else, including certain unnamed members of my household, that we need to save water. My washer is, unfortunately, in an interior room as well. Oh well - I guess it's all about the buckets!

Shannon: Obviously the goal is to get all your numbers down but if you can't do anything about the commute, just focus on other areas. Good luck! It's actually pretty fun.

kale for sale said...

Great ending. Your categorization of the areas that you are cutting back on is perfect and had me thinking each step of the way. I especially like the rule that shopping at thrift stores doesn't count as shopping. It's like eating lettuce on weight watchers. Thanks for keeping me turning off the lights and on the green path.


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