I guess I am ready to work my way back into Rioting. I will be frank though, I am very tempted to change the name of my gimmick to Occupy the Home Supply. The two concepts are one in my mind (even if my small efforts are hardly worthy of either) and who wouldn’t want to be part of the coolest new thing? Certainly both names have patent appeal. And isn’t it all about branding?
Name and logo notwithstanding, I am ready to get back on track. Or, to write myself a new track, after our terrifying intermission. We will be moving back to Alaska in May and I want at least a month margin, so I have to finish out by the end of March. It’s a bit condensed, but I think there’s still enough time to get a good groove on.
September/October– Audits and Goals. Anyone still wanting to follow along with me? No pressure, it’s make your own rules, remember? You can follow along without the paperwork, if that’s more approachable. But I’ll email out the audit forms to anyone interested (some of us get a perverted buzz off of graphs and tables). If you haven’t already, leave a comment here so I have your email. I’m sorry not to have sent those out earlier, but y’all can catch up in November.
November–Food. As well as focusing on my garden during this month, I’ve decided to do a week long corporate food boycott (Occupy Your Food Supply). We are lucky to be able to buy a reasonably rounded diet of local foods at the market here: meat, dairy, rice, veggies. It will be challenging for sure, but certainly doable. I’m debating pre- or post-Thanksgiving. If anyone else is interested in joining me on this, state your preference. I know pre-Thanksgiving is very soon. Could be cool to start the day after instead, on Buy Nothing Day. Hell, we could start on the day itself and Occupy Thanksgiving!
December– Stuff. I had planned to take December off from the Riot, since Christmas is already a source of great angst for me. It would certainly be easy to do a ‘Stuff Boycott’ in January, but honestly, kind of a redundant cop-out. Focusing on stuff for the stuffiest month of all is doubtlessly more useful. There won’t be any boycotting (though I personally adore the idea), but it will force me to buy higher quality gifts, instead of resisting gift-giving till Dec 22, then bowing out at the last minute to corporate crap. Which is my usual plan.
January– Garbage, Household Fuel. What better to follow the stuff month than the garbage month right? Also, the coldest month of the year is a little late, but better than never, to consider heating efficiency and leaks.
February– Electricity, Water. Hopefully I won’t wait till February to use the Watts Up I ordered, or build that cool kids water play fountain. But, can’t do it all at once…
March– Transportation, Continuation. This will be my wind down month. Transportation is not a big one for us. We only drive a few times/week and those trips are pretty much non-negotiable, though a little belt-tightening is always possible. Perhaps more importantly, I want to spend the last month focusing on what qualities allow or encourage a person to persist with doing things the hard way, when everyone around us worships ‘the easy way’ with religious fervor. Because while a few months of focus is certainly helpful, sustaining the good habits is the important (and hard) part.
So, you’ve seen my audits (home and food), patchy as they are. Those are the straight numbers, and they are worth something. But I also made out a list of the everyday things, in each category, that I do now to lower our household’s resources consumption (Riot perspective) or contribute less to the top 1% (Occupy perspective). After listing out my good stuff, I made a parallel list of weak spots, specific things I could do in each category. Having concrete goals suits my mind better than an abstract lowering of numbers.
I consulted various online lists for lowering one’s energy and water consumption, both for ideas on what more I could do as well as reminders of what I already do. For example, “Consider re-using bath towels.” Huh? People out there seriously only use them once? Also, apparently the recommended thermostat settings for “saving money” are 68 for winter and 78 for summer, making us semi-radical!
As my Riot progresses, and I focus on each category, I’m sure more goals will emerge, but here’s my current dos and shoulds:
|do now||changes to make|
Set AC high (79-81)
Toaster oven on porch
Make coffee stovetop
|Turn computers off between use
Fridge/freezer settings up
Test appliances with Watts Up meter
Save rinse water for kitchen clean up
Dip out kiddie pool for plants
Shower only once every 5-7 days (don’t tell!)
Wear clothes till they’re truly dirty
Rarely water lawn
Mulch garden heavily
Run washer full
Recirculating fountain for kid water play
Displacer in toilet tank
Rain-fed chicken waterer
Buy from bulk bins in re-used bags
Cloth grocery bags
Reuse paper for kids
Scavenge still good stuff from trash cans!
|Try switching to cloth diapers at night? (when we’ve tried this before we had leaking and rash problems)
Seek out food with less packagingBuy less stuff
|stuff||Do without often
Buy used whenever possible
|Do without even more
Seek out higher quality, ethical production for the new things we do buy (a very weak point for my uber-cheap self)
|transportation||Bike and walk almost every day
Drive only a few times/week
Plane travel only once or twice a year
|I already minimize my driving as much as I am comfortable with
But, buy more local = less food transportation
|household fuel (heating, cooking, hot water)||Cook/bake efficiently
Wash clothes on cold
|More crock pot
Turn down hot water heater
|food||Buy mostly organic and/or local
Research OG companies
Buy from bulk bins
Make at home: bread granola, jams, treats
|Order wheat from Texas
Start buying farmer’s market cheese
See about bulk prices for FM meat
Garden more seriously
Locally grown chicken feed?
It’s essential to note that in every category there is the unlisted, vague, yet crucially important goal to simply be more vigilant. I have already started this, even over these last two derailed months. Just tightening my belt a little, when I can muster the energy. You know I’m all for allowing ourselves a wide margin, but I often find myself having become lazy for no good reason whatsoever. How hard is it really to reach out your hand and turn a light off as you pass an empty room? Yet I had gotten so slack about it, leaving lights on because I couldn’t be bothered to waste that extra action. Absurd!
It’s challenging to remember the importance of these small actions when we are inundated by an (ad-based) culture of could-give-a-shit. It’s extremely profitable to the corporate world to make not caring stylish. They frame it like it’s all or nothing– if you’re not going to save the world then sit the fuck back down. And since no one of us is prepared to give it all, we figure why give any? Sit back, relax, look out for #1.
Even if small habits won’t change the world, they nevertheless do add up to something. But perhaps even more important is the exact thing that makes doing the little stuff so pesky– when you try to remember to turn off lights every time you leave a room, it forces you to think about the lights, and the electricity they suck, a hundred times a day. Which is downright annoying. When you try to live ultra-frugally, it forces you to carry the weight of money and spending with you constantly. I have been there and know how obnoxious the incessant racket of responsible thinking in the modern world can be. But what else is there for us at this point? Blissful ignorance?