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Sustainability of the earth... and my wallet

September 19th, 2010 at 06:34 am

Yesterday I went to a Sustainability expo. The keynote speaker was one of just 26 certified trainers for the Transition Towns movement.

I hadn't heard of this before, but it's based on taking action now (rather than wait for politicians to get their act together) to respond to two inevitable events: 1) peak oil, which many say has already arrived, and 2) global climate warming.

It's not a question of "if," it's a matter of "when." Those few people who still question the science of global warming can't help but remind me of those idiots who say the Holocaust never happened.

There are transition towns across the country. There are more, I think, in the west, an area that always seems to be more forward-thinking than the rest of the country, save for Vermont and Massachusetts.

It's a grassroots effort where people use a community-based approach to conserve energy and natural resources, reduce fossil fuel dependence, shop responsibly and maintain a green home and garden. (Personally, I love the idea of getting together with neighbors to share use of certain things, like perhaps a lawnmower and other garden tools, bulk buying of groceries, etc.)

The great thing about going green is that green behavior is always good for your wallet as well as the earth.

I've always had an interest in environmental issues, but they tend to get put on the back burner while other things take precedence. However, I always try to incorporate green behavior in my personal life, by:

* avoiding use of the clothes dryer
* reusing my own grocery bags
* driving an old Honda Civic
* growing an organic vegetable garden
* turning the thermostat down in winter
* installing CFL light bulbs
* getting a home energy audit
* reducing junk mail
* driving less and combining trips
* maximizing driving efficiency by avoiding speeding, or accelerating or braking quickly
* eating less than 1 meat meal per week
* not living in the biggest house I could afford
* curbing spending on useless or unnecessary items
* pursuing a minimalist lifestyle, using only what I really need (this is a work in progress)
* recycling as much as possible, including certain plastics, metal cans, newspapers, junk mail and electronics
* using a battery-charged lawn mower and weed whacker
* finding ways to reuse items rather than tossing them in the trash (library donations, Craig's List sales, gifting to friends and family, Good Will)
* avoiding the purchase of one-use food goods in over-packaged, non-recyclable containers, or disposal paper plates and cups. Walking out of a store carrying my purchase of one or two items WITHOUT the bag (but with the receipt).
* Cooking primarily with my toaster oven/convection oven instead of the full-sized oven. Using the energy-efficient microwave often.

On my list of future things to do, I'd really like to start a compost pile and give up using my car more, but in this area, the car is King.

I'm also interested in the concept of "co-housing," but have yet to tour one of their communities in Massachusetts. The idea is that you give up your private backyard, and the isolation that goes with it. Instead, you dine together in a communal dining room,sharing responsibility for meals, and you share outdoor living space. I have mixed feelings about it, but it's something I'd still like to explore to see how it works in practice.

Today I will be caulking interior windows; the home energy audit I had 2 weeks ago revealed small loss of warm air in the the window trim that goes over the windows themselves. The cracks were too thin for the guy to caulk, but I'm confident I can do it myself.

5 Responses to “Sustainability of the earth... and my wallet”

  1. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    I would think you'd have to have some pretty strong regulations and procedures in place to make sharing a backyard with several or more neighbors workable.
    Especially regulations regarding dogs/cleanup, kids running loose, maintenance ..... etc.

  2. HouseHopeful Says:

    I think the sustainability movement is very interesting. I often wonder how I would survive if a lot of the amenities that we have were gone Smile

    While I know I will not adopt all ideas (raising chickens), I do like to work towards some of the ideas. Cooking from scratch is something that I have been playing with. I tried knitting, but found I am terrible at it.

    There are some VERY interesting blogs out there from people trying some of the ideas you described.

  3. PatientSaver Says:

    HouseHopeful, could you share the URLs of some of those blogs you mentioned?

    I live in a typical suburb, but just in the past year, one of my neighbors got chickens, and the other got a pair of goats.

  4. baselle Says:

    HouseHopeful - Time for barter. You have issues with knitting, but I bet you are great at some skills to trade for knitting.

    Another time honored tactic is borrowing some items that a neighbor has while allowing him to borrow items that you have. Works especially well with tools and small gas powered appliances. Course you need good neighbors.

  5. Jerry Says:

    I like some of the elements of the Transition Town, that leads to some contemplation. I agree with you on the shared dining in a communal backyard, though, I'm not sure that I'd want that. Still, all in all, those are some great things that you are doing that I think make a difference. As baselle points out, so much of this communal stuff really depends on the insurance of having good neighbors, and I wonder how many of those there are out there any more?
    Jerry

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