So after much hemming and hawing and soul-searching and, well, mathing, I’ve decided to give this 90% Reduction thing a shot. Fret not; this blog will not turn entirely into a logbook of my various projects, although of course I will be writing about them (remember my brain can only wrap itself around a few things at a time.) I’m not sure how it will turn out. I have some real concerns about our ability to reduce much more, as well as about my ability to take on this project mostly alone without freaking out at some point about doing it alone. Anyway, here is an estimation of our current numbers along with additional concerns and comments (first link provides an explanation of the categories and how the math is done):
1. Gasoline: we use approximately 99.2 gallons for our entire household. Thank you, no car. Since this is well under the 50 gallons per person per year figure, no reduction is necessary. I will be tracking our actual usage, however, so while I think I estimated high, I might just be surprised.
2. Electricity: we used 5601 kwh last year, 100% wind and water. A 90% reduction, assuming a 4x allowance for wind and water, means that our target usage this year is 4400 kwh/yr. This does not cover laundry, however, as our facilities are shared with the rest of the building.
3. Gas and Heating Oil: these are included in our maintenance and I have no way of tracking what we use. Figuring that we use the oven maybe twice a month and the range 3x a week, I’m figuring our cooking expenses are pretty low. This will likely go up once our farm share kicks in and we’re cooking more. We do not control our heating aside from being able to adjust the valve inside the radiators and the building is kept very, very warm. I don’t know how much our adjustments affect the actual amount of heating oil used, however.
4. Garbage: 19.9 lbs for the household this past week (a pretty average trash week) which comes out to .85 lbs per person, per day. Our goal for the household will be 9.45 lbs/wk but I have no idea how we’ll do it. Lucy is back in Pull-ups at night (I’m not washing sheets every day) and the cat litter just weighs a freaking ton. This is one of the big worry categories, especially once the new baby comes and we’re doing diapers (we’re not doing cloth–I’d have to have a diaper service to keep up and that’s both money, chemicals, and energy to transport/heat water/dry and I subscribe to the Union of Concerned Scientists view on the diaper debate. We’ll use Seventh Generation again, dumping bowel movements in the toilet.)
5. Water: Also unknown. I was going to test out our usage with a bucket, but honestly that’s going too far for me. I take showers with Lucy, we have low-flow faucets and shower heads, and I water our plants exclusively with greywater and unfinished drinking water/coffee. Not to mention, I can’t find a bucket in my neighborhood, but that’s neither here nor there. The fact is, water-related reduction would mostly affect C, and I’m not going to have a big fight over it. At least not yet.
6. Consumer Goods: I’m not saint when it comes to shopping, and so while I didn’t dig through receipts or anything, I’ll estimate our spending at about $7500/year. Yeah. I’m really not proud of that. However, as far as goals go…I’m setting one for myself, and it isn’t at 90% Reduction. My personal goal is $1875 for next year. That is a 50% reduction, which I’m comfortable with for a start. This should take into account that with a new baby coming, we’re going to need to buy some stuff. We have a ton left over from Lucy, but babies just need things. I am also figuring that, being pregnant, I will probably need more clothes (bras and panties at the very least, trust me) and while I’m planning on thrifting for anything not intimate apparel, I can’t guarantee I’ll find maternity. I figure, at the very least tracking my spending will cause me to really think about what I am buying. Does this sound like a total cop-out? I’m not going to ask C to limit his spending since he really doesn’t spend like I do and also he has textbooks to pay for each semester. Another reason why 1000k per year for the household is a no-go–C’s texts alone are over that figure.
1. local and organic–31%
2. bulk dry–less than 1%
3. wet goods–69%
Ain’t pretty, is it? I’m not surprised; this is why the CSA this year. I have no idea how much we can reduce here. I’m hoping we can get to 90%, but I really have no idea. The CSA will certainly help. As far as bulk goods goes, we can’t exactly find a lot of those in the neighborhood, and our teeny kitchen means we’re severely limited on storage space. Add to that one very picky four year old. It’s not impossible, but it does mean that we’ll have to get Lucy eating more vegetables and less frozen meats/meat substitutes.
Anyway, I’ll be posting progress every month. We’re still doing the Low-Impact Week as well, so bear with me while I bury myself under a ton of numbers. Hey, I have to do something while I’m waiting for the baby to come 😛
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