Archive for the ‘Low Impact Week’ Category

As Low Impact Week draws to a close, I figured I’d weigh in with the hows and how didn’ts, as it were.  My numbers (estimating tv and computer for the rest of the day based on last night’s figures):

  • 10 plastic bags.  Most of these were from the farmer’s market on Wednesday so I’ll have to remember to take back and reuse next week.
  • packaged foods:  23.  I really thought this would be lower so I’ll have to really keep an eye on what I’m buying.
  • meat:  6 out of 7 days.  Of that, the only substantial chunk of meat was a burger on Tuesday.  The rest was chicken nuggets for Lucy and little bits like pepperoni on pizza or soup with beef.
  • dairy:  tons and tons.  I don’t think I’m so worried about dairy after all.  A lot of what we consume is local anyway.
  • takeout:  2 days plus leftovers from dinner out on Saturday.  This is stellar!  A few weeks ago we were ordering out almost every day.  I’m really thrilled with this result.
  • lbs garbage:  16.9.  I have no freaking idea what was in the first garbage bag last night but it weighed 8 pounds.  We’re usually between 4 and 5 pounds per bag.  And then we had cat litter on top of that.  I’m going to start logging what gets thrown out because that’s mad trash.
  • 28.75 oz fed to worms.  I have to start cutting stuff up into smaller pieces because I just can’t fit enough into the bin.  I should be able to fit 2-3 lbs per week but they aren’t going through it quickly enough to do that.  I actually have worm food saved in the fridge at this point.  Still, that’s all food that would’ve otherwise gone into the trash and I’m really having fun checking up on the worms and making sure everything is under control.
  • 12.8 lbs recycling.  Cardboard boxes and catalogs plus there was beer in the house this week.  I have gotten myself off of 4 catalog lists though.
  • television:  36 hours 48 minutes.  I was shooting for 32 hours for the whole household, so this is not the greatest since it only counts Lucy and me.  Why do we watch so much tv?  This part I really have to think about.  Other than baseball and Lucy’s shows, I don’t even know what we watch.
  • computer:  30 hours, 15 minutes.  Again, only Lucy’s and my numbers.  Goal was 49 hours for the household, so again we need to look more closely at this.  Still, I think this reflects a marked improvement over the control week so we may just be on the right track.

This also ends the first week of the Riot for Austerity/90% Reduction.  I’ve been quite pleased with our results for this challenge, aside from the garbage of last week, our  car mileage and the big chunk of spending.  Here are those numbers:

  • 172.85 mi on transit (1.73 gallons) and 50.3 mi in a car (2.8 gallons.)  The car was ride share for me to LI and then Lucy’s time with Grandma this week.  I’m counting full gas for all trips.
  •  Consumer goods:  new–$105.92  used–$5.80
  • Food:  Local–45%
  • Food:  Bulk–14%
  • Food:  Wet–41%

Other great and new things that have come about for this first week include only having to use the dryer for one load of laundry and, of course, the pie!  Anything that gets me to bake something can’t be bad.  And, yes, this is the first thing I’ve ever baked that didn’t come in a box.  I didn’t make the crust but I did make the crumb topping, and it’s freaking delicious even though you have to eat it with a spoon.  It looks like only one side was totally gloppy–the other is chunky-soup and even has some bottom shell left intact.  I think it’s something about my oven.

Dude, I can’t believe I baked a frigging pie.  That’s so awesome!  This week CSA is all leafy veg so only cooking I’m planning is some collard greens.  I hope next week brings something new–I’m eating like three salads a day.  The baby is going to pop out smothered in vinaigrette.

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First, the Low Impact Week update because it’s been making me an obsessive shrew:  I have officially changed the tracking of our numbers.  After spending far too much time staring daggers at the back of my husband’s head while he passed the hours on the computer and, ultimately, after freaking out over 4 more plastic bags coming into the house when I specifically got reusable ones, I have decided to only count MY bags and Lucy’s and my tv/computer usage.  Trust me, it isn’t worth the fight in my house and it’s not fair that I expect C to suddenly become accustomed to taking reusable bags.  This means that the control week numbers will be inflated (those captured all of our usage) but it also means that I won’t alienate my husband from the ongoing process of reduction, which is far more important.

That said, here are the low points:  pizza.  I broke down on Friday and ordered pizza after my doc appt/transit nightmare and then had to stop for pizza yesterday before workshop.  That’s twice for takeout when my personal goal was no takeout, but with all containers recycled it could be far worse.

Second low point:  packaged foods.  We haven’t gotten quite to the point of preparing foods in advance for her although we’re working on it.  As soon as all of the junk is out of the freezer and food cabinet, we’ll make a plan.  That’s not going to be this week after all, though we’re slowly working on it.

Third low point:  shopping.  I’m not tracking this for LIW (it’s for 90% reduction) but I’m going to throw it on here anyway.  My beloved toaster which has seen me through every apartment I’ve ever lived in minus one, died on Friday evening.  A tear was shed, but we use the toaster daily so we had to replace it.  While doing so, I decided to bite the bullet and get a second sheet set for Lucy’s bed so that we can lose the pull-ups without having to worry about hauling sheets to the laundry every day.  We also picked up reusable muffin cups (shall eliminate my Thomas’ addiction) and another drying rack (first one didn’t hold full load.)  I’m counting the drying rack and muffin cups at 50% but not the sheets or toaster because those we would’ve gotten anyway.

Fourth, miles traveled.   I got dinged by grabbing a ride to LI.  Not terribly, but dinged anyway.  There have been a chunk of extra trips, actually, and there are a handful more in sight over the summer as we finish up our visiting family before I’m too pregnant to travel comfortably.  Fortunately, after the baby gets here, I won’t be going anywhere ‘cept on my own two feet.  We’re switching to a neighborhood pediatrician for both kids, Lucy’s cardiologist is local, our dentist is in our same building.  Good times.

The high points are:

  • garbage:  we’re actually on track to make it through the week with 9.45 lbs of garbage!
  • other shopping:  I got Lucy’s sandals and my dress for the benefit at a consignment store!  This is where I’m going to get a lot of her stuff (and stuff for the baby) going forward, as well as any other maternity crap I end up needing.
  • local food:  the CSA has started evening out our local to wet foods ratio and we ate a freaking lot of meals last week that incorporated local foods, which feels really good.  As the shares get bigger, so should our % of local foods.
  • I have only had to use the dryer once since purchasing the drying rack!  I should be able to get away with only using it for sheets and towels, which means once a week and only one load on high.
  • My computer usage has been hovering at between 2.5 and 3 hours a day.  I think, on days when no proofreading work comes through, I can get it down even further.  We’ve weaned Lucy down to one hour of tv in the morning and one in the evening but rarely does she watch that whole time!  And if the Yankees keep sucking, my tv usage while go down to nuttin’ as well.
  • We haven’t had to turn on the a/c or even a fan!  Of course, I’m just starting to get the pregnancy overheating, but I’m going to try to make it until the humidity goes through the roof.

Lucy has been a great help throughout this whole process (aside from the afternoon ‘I wanna watch a moooooviiiiieeeeee’ nonsense.)  She’s started a box of stuff to reuse for projects and has been an absolute trooper with trying new, fresh foods.  We’ve successfully made the switch from baby carrots to by the bunch, string cheese to fresh mozzarella, canned green beans to fresh, and over the weekend, she tried fettucine alfredo which may just be able to replace packaged mac and cheese!  Awesome.

In uterine news, I am huge and getting bigger.  And bigger.  The hunger has hit me over the past week, as well as the huffing and puffing when I truck up stairs.  And, a new one, the pelvic pain when I sit for too long on an unpadded chair which tells me I need to ignore the huffing and get to stretching because that postpartum ‘hit by a bus’ feeling is starting to come back to me and it ain’t pretty.

Last night Lucy woke up when I got home and waited for me to come in to bed so that she could say goodnight to the baby.  She’s starting to spend more and more time rubbing the belly and talking to the baby, and I swear, every time she does I feel like my heart is going to burst.  And now, Luce and I have a pie to make.

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First off, everything is fine with the baby’s heart.   I am so relieved.  The kid was a trooper, holding still and letting the tech get all of the pictures needed in minimal time.  And!  I got to see the spine and rib, which was pretty cool.  It’s funny, though.  I’ve seen about a half a million echos in the past 5 years and I can still only barely make out the 4 chambers of the heart.  It made me appreciate the speed of the tech all the more.

And then…coming home.  St. Francis Hospital is close to several LIRR stations so I decided to ask for directions at the front desk.  They said Port Washington, so to Port Washington I went.  After peeking out to see if I could spot the bus stop one of the people at the desk told me about, I decided to take a cab the 2.5 miles since walking didn’t look like the safest choice.  Half hour wait at the train station, and then I was off.  Things were looking pretty good until I got to Woodside and decided to transfer to the 7 instead of taking another LIRR train to Jamaica.  An hour later, I had made it the 20 minutes home.  7 train, I hate you.  By the time I got here, all of the happy cloud relief floaty crap of having a clean echo had been replaced with heat and smell and up and down stairs and the clench of knowing you’re close to the right stop but can’t get there easily.  I did find a bodega that sells food plants, however, so I’ll be back on the 7 next week, husband in tow, to pick up some tomatoes and whatever else we can find.  So, in one way, hurrah lost!  But not really.

90% reduction not off to the most stellar start, nor Low-Impact Week.   C forgot his reusable bags last night so we brought in 7 new plastic ones.  I was out of the house so Lucy finagled an extra hour of television (during lunch) and the computer was on for all but the couple of hours that C and Lucy were at the park.  And we ordered pizza when I got home because I hadn’t eaten in 6 hours, and C went to the grocery so everything was non-local and non-bulk and and and….waaaaaah.  Today will be better.

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So I’m getting a ride to LI on Friday (on Day One of 90% reduction/Low-Impact Week no less, I’ll be in a car, which never happens) and will public transit back.  My MIL will pick me up on her way out to LI, though, so really it’s not so bad.  I am still freaking out about the appointment proper, but am feeling far calmer now that I at least know I won’t end up wandering around Roslyn lost and in tears.

Aside from the transport glitch, preparations are underway for the Big Projects.  I got a laundry drying rack yesterday (and need a second) in order to eliminate some dryer loads and also some popsicle molds because C and I will both sit and eat 3 in a row without blinking.  I finally found a curtain rod that doesn’t sag for the bedroom and it really does relieve some of the blazing morning sun (will hopefully keep a/c off in bedroom for longer.)  Tomorrow I’ll pick up reusable shopping bags for my husband, water bottles for the 2 of us and the 2nd drying rack, and then the shopping is done.

The rest of the to-do prep list is less $$ intensive.  I want to dig into the dregs of the back of the freezer tomorrow because I’m sure there’s some ick back there.  I need to vacuum the fridge coils.  I want to make up weekly tracking sheets for the stuff that can be tracked that way (trash, mileage, recycling, the food split, and the Low Impact Week stuff.)  I have a bunch of batteries to be dropped off for recycling from the gradual switch-over to rechargables.

And then…I don’t know.  I feel like I should have grandiose plans to install things and unplug things and the like.  But I don’t.  I’m mostly planning on doing what we already do, only more so.  Paying more attention to what we buy and what we eat and what we throw away.  Being mindful, I guess, is the best way to put it.  I want us to all be more mindful of what we’re using and eating and watching and spending.  I don’t know if that’s enough, but it’s what we’re going to do.  And then after the first 3 months we can step back and see what’s working, what’s not, and what more we can do.  I guess in addition to weekly charts I should do some sort of monthly budget/actual report so that I can see where we need to trim more.  I should probably start tracking how often we use the oven/stove as well, even though we can’t track how much gas it’s using.  And water as well, at least based on averages.  Ugh.  I’ll have to see about those last two.

Yeah, so that’s it.  I’m off to play around with spreadsheets to keep my mind off of Friday.  And to figure out how I’m going to track things while we’re visiting family over the summer (like my mother who may not recycle but at least is game on shopping farmer’s markets and seafood markets while we’re visiting, and my MIL who is ok with the eco-savviness but seems to regard many of my reduction techniques with a soupcon of suspicion that I’m totally overboard on the whole thing.)  The biggest goal of the summer regarding travel, I think, will be avoiding individually packaged kid’s snacks.  And trying to figure out how to squirrel away and weigh my trash without anyone noticing.  Maybe I can get a free pass on the weigh-in for keeping my mom’s recycling out of the landfill?   Or at least for not beating her over the head with her recyclables?

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I have to write today and I’m putting it off. I managed to wake myself up at 5:59 to get a head start, but can’t bring myself to open the doc and begin editing. I should be a raging ball of nerves by noon and apoplectic by two if I don’t get working, so please send some motivation my way. I’d rather be doing almost anything else, and may end up doing just that.

Last week was my attempt at a control for Low Impact Week. Our results were…ok, I know I’m Negativity Girl this morning, but our results sucked. I keep trying to remind myself that that’s why I chose these categories to work on, that I already knew I would be unhappy with the numbers, but I’m just somewhere between pissed off and disheartened. This is what it looks like, to be followed by a mini-rant wherein I blame my husband for the whole damn thing*:

1. Number of plastic bags–shopping and produce: 17

2. Number of prepackaged foods: 20

3. Servings of local foods: 2

4. Servings of organic food: 30
5. Number of servings of meat: 13

6. Number of servings of dairy: 22.5

7. Number of takeout containers thrown out: 2.5

8. Number of garbage bags thrown out–grocery bag size: 3

9. Number of oz fed to worms: 9

10. Hours tv is on: 65

11. Hours computer is on: 98.25

12. Number of Low-dry loads of laundry: 1

13. Number of High-dry loads of laundry: 1

*it’s important to note that some of these numbers are household and some only refer to Lucy and me. Anything regarding diet is just for the two of us. Laundry, tv/comp, trash are all household. This is another problem: I can’t track things neatly right now. It may be easier once the CSA starts up and we’re eating more meals together.*

See what I mean? 65 hours of television? 98 hours of computer? Holy crap. And 17 plastic bags came into the house? That one really got to me. I mean, I use a reusable bag. That means that all 17 plastic bags came in with C. As for the tv and computer, well, I can cut how much Lucy and I use, but I’m not sure how much that’s going to be in the grand scheme of things. That’s not to say that C deserves the blame for our overuse, but it does mean that I’m going to have to figure out how I can make serious reductions when we’re talking about an entire household’s use. It’s really tough, and I may never find the balance. For now, I’m trying to just sort of shut up and deal, which usually leads to a huge explosion down the road. I try to tell myself that one 4-pack of Charmin instead of Marcal isn’t the end of the world, or that I can’t expect him to remember to take bags to the grocery store. After all, he doesn’t roll his eyes when I do things like, say, stick worms in the living room or log when I turn the tv on and off. At least not so I can see it. But, likewise, he doesn’t seem to care the same way. I mean, it’s not that he doesn’t care-care, just that he doesn’t feel the need to obsess about doing absolutely everything we can. And I am not the sort of person who can help myself once I get going. How do you change a household without alienating members therein? Or, equally importantly, without turning yourself into an eco-martyr?

Am I just over-thinking all of this or is the greening of the house like the housework fight for a new generation? Does anyone have any suggestions? WordPress registers 20+ of y’all reading this on a feed plus 20 or so daily hits–help a mommy out. Seriously, I’m perfectly nice as long as you don’t run up my electric bill or leave plastic bags in my kitchen.

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Really, what a glorious time of pregnancy. No swollen feet, the ability to walk more than a block without having to pee, no need to collapse on the couch after making the bed. I freaking love it. It’s not that I’m lazy ordinarily, but for some reason, the last few weeks have been all about doing more, wanting to do more. I love having ambition minus the nagging voice that tells me I’m taking on too much. It’s such a strange sort of power that I’m not used to. Not like the last in so many ways, this pregnancy, but in this respect, one and the same.

I have been meaning to recount the differences since they are great enough to half-convince me I’m carrying a boy. My hair, last time full and shiny, seems brittle this time and tangles within moments of being brushed. I glowed last time, this time I look tired and my skin dull. My belly pokes out far lower this time. Where spinach and tomato sauce gagged me early on this time, it was 2nd trimester last time when red meat would make me gag. This time around, more back aches and I don’t even want to talk about digestion. Last time? It was 3rd trimester before I had much trouble with any of that. Of course, I’m also sitting around this time making mental note of minutiae whereas last time I just lived.

But the energy, the drive…the rest I wish could be more similar but I’d be devastated if I didn’t have this mama-power to get me going on project after project. Things are just sort of…more when I’m pregnant, and I guess I like the more. I’ve missed the feeling of being able to do anything.

In more newsy news:

The CSA orientation was last night and I’m so beyond excited that I am damn near beside myself.

I did some edits for one of the nonprofits I’ve volunteered with, and not only did I manage to not freak out at working on congressional testimony, but I also got two glowing emails from directors thanking me for the work I did and informing me that my edits were in the final document (!!!)

For once, I actually have ideas of things to write about (even though I haven’t done anything with them.)

I have terrible superstitions about saying that things are going well so I’ll just say, I’m pretty damn happy with myself and my life right now.

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Woke up yesterday with scratchy throat, which expanded into ear pressure, and culminated with me falling asleep on the couch at the MIL’s after lunch. In bed by 7:30. I can swallow and my ears are fine, but the congestion is going to drive me crazy. Today I have to figure out how to write an introduction for myself to prospective users of my mad proofreading skillz. So far I have drooling and guttural sounds. Go Away Snot!

I am happy to report that the worms are alive and well! When we checked on them yesterday morning they were gathered in the corner where we last buried food for them, so I am well pleased. I can’t believe how much food waste we can go through. We buried a half pound (our bin takes 2-3 a week) and have another pound and a quarter still in the fridge. Not counting coffee grounds. I’m glad we have the bin to take what it can, but how are we ditching so much organic food matter? Holy hell, it makes one think.

Speaking of making one think, yesterday marked the beginning of Chart Madness. We made up a spreadsheet to use as a sort of control for Low Impact Week so that we can see how well we do. We have decided to track the following:

1. Number of plastic bags–shopping and produce

2. Number of prepackaged foods

3. Servings of local foods

4. Servings of organic foods

5. Number of servings of meat

6. Number of servings of dairy

7. Number of takeout containers thrown out

8. Number of garbage bags thrown out–grocery bag size

9. Number of oz fed to worms

10. Hours tv is on

11. Hours computer is on

12. Number of Low-dry loads of laundry

13. Number of High-dry loads of laundry

We’re tracking by day, and for 1-6 we have one column per day for Lucy and one for me. The part we’re going to do really bad on, I’m afraid, is tv and computer usage. Yesterday the computer was on for 10 hours, and we weren’t even home from 11:30-6. I’m not pointing any fingers *cough* video games *cough* but it ain’t me, babe. At least the computer is being turned off overnight now.

I will eventually write about other stuff, but right now this is what is taking up most of my thoughts and time. The apartment is severely in need of a clean-up, I haven’t unpacked yet (sacrilege!) and the ideas I have buzzing around in my head for essays are probably going to end up going to workshop rather than here (saves me time later.) It looks like I may be pretty inundated with proofreading here pretty soon,too, so I’m trying to prepare myself.

And finally, for the biggest news, yesterday at the in-laws Auntie M. sat down with Lucy to see how she’s doing on her beginning sounds. She proceeded to write ‘cat’ and asked Lucy to sound it out. Lucy not only read it, but also ‘bat’, ‘pat’, ‘hat’ and ‘mat’. How the hell that happened so quickly, I’ll never know. But apparently Lucy is well on her way to reading. Or can read and is just faking us all out. Or something. I’d tell you how well she adds, too, but that would just be bragging 🙂

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While catching up on my blog reading, I found a link to the Low-Impact Week challenge that Crunchy Chicken is sponsoring. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. While in Baltimore, Lucy decided that we need to protect the coral reef from destruction, and we spent a decent amount of time discussing the things our family does to help the environment, as well as the things we need to start doing more of. The first thing we decided to tackle was reducing the amount of packaging we throw out. And, to backtrack, before we left we determined that we can reduce the number of plastic bags we bring into the house by getting C something he can always have with him. We’ll be charting our progress here (we’ve chosen to change our food habits, a slight cheat since we’ll have the CSA by that point We’ll also be looking at our garbage output, another slight cheat because of the worm bin.)

I know most, if not all of y’all are already doing most of this stuff but there’s always more we can do. I encourage you to check out the lists and choose your own area of impact to reduce.

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