Thursday, February 19th, 2009

a bee for my bonnet

Filed under: challenges and memes,children,consuming,dogs — alison @ 21:31

I finally went to my suit store and for a little over $400 I bought:
– two lined, tailored suits;
– a soft, unlined fitted jacket;
– a lined skirt.

I am still dreaming about how I can match everything with t-shirts, scarves and tights. Fun!

In other news, I have finally found something to become obsessed with as I transition into my age-appropriate role of batty menopausal pest. (Running the world will just have to wait until I’m post-menopausal, as per Margaret Mead.) The Riot for Austerity. It’s a project in which people set themselves the goal “to cut their emissions by 90% of what the average person in [Australia, Canada or] the US consumes – the approximate amount people in the rich world need to reduce by in order to avoid the worst effects of global warming.”

Which means in my case:

1. Using only 10% of the average Canadian’s annual use of 1,200 litres of gasoline, so 240 litres per year for our household of two.

2. Using only 10% of the electricity of the average Canadian’s 17,000 kW-hour per year, so only 3,400 kW hour for our household.

3. Using only 10% of the heating and cooking energy of the average Canadian. I’m not sure how to calculate this, but if I use the US figures from the site that would mean 285 litres of heating oil per year.

4. Reducing garbage production to 10% of the average Canadian’s 1.35 kg of municipal waste per day. Our allowance will thus be 135 g each per day.

5. Consuming only 10% of the water of the average Canadian household’s daily 1,000 litres of water, which means each of us would use no more than 50 litres per day.

6. Spending only 10% of what the average Canadian spends on consumer goods. That would mean capping at $1,600 per year for our household. That will cover all clothes, toiletries, recreation, household maintenance etc. for two people for a year.

7. Reducing the impact of purchased food by 90%. That would mean that if I purchase 20 food items in a week, I’d use 14 home- or locally-produced items, 5 bulk dry items, and only 1 processed or out of season thing.

The idea is to pick from one to seven goals and within a year, make the infrastructure changes necessary to meet the goal(s) and maintain them after the year is up. I like the idea of this project because nobody’s saying “recycling my newspapers has the magical effect of making the impact of my consumption on the world disappear.” (Bonus! If people are actually achieving all these goals I can forgive them for breeding, which is psychologically beneficial.)

I’m not sure which, if any, of the goals I could meet. We may already be meeting the water one (oops, nope, I water the garden). With a little effort we could meet the food one, and I think we’re already not far off the heating oil one. No idea about electricity. Consumer goods would be a radical change (see beginning of this post). Garbage though – it already takes at least 135 g per day to take care of Pepe’s little incontinence problem. Enlisting his cooperation for my pet project will take some doing.

The other reason I like this project: when I am laid off and not working and rampant inflation has taken hold, being broke will be repackaged as virtue.

*** *** ***
Now, I wonder what Mark is going to say when he finds out.


  1. hahahah!
    I too might already meet the water one, IF I don’t wash clothes. I usually wash in the sink, (myself, not the clothes), so that is about 2 liters of water, we bathe maybe twice a week or once… haha. The electricity… hmmm, well, I hate to say, things don’t go so well with plumbing etc if you don’t heat. Actually I used to barely heat but since I have a three year old, I tend to heat more than my studio and wear one sweatshirt instead of three, with fingerless gloves, in the house. I am pretty sure if I reduced my heating by 90% I’d have burst pipes. I suppose I could move into a tiny place, well insulated, with one external wall (ie in an apartment block), but someone else would just move into this draughty old place and they’ll likely heat more than I do. I’ll have to check the weight of garbage. I am not sure about “incontinence”: obviously the water in urine will evaporate or drain out. Vs plastic, metal, dirty clay cat litter etc. Because I hang onto boxes, often cans, I compost and recycle, I usually only have one shopping sized bag of garbage a week for two people. For fuel, my trips to Vancouver and Sask by plane and Michigan by car totally ruin my low fuel consumption of not owning a car and living within walking distance of most everything I need and go to. Ahhh dear. Frankly, my main consumer problems now are printed materials and dvds, which must be manufactured, and then shipped.

    Comment by Leanne — Thursday, February 19th, 2009 @ 23:51

  2. Leanne,

    No, you don’t reduce your *own* production/consumption by 90%; you reduce it to whatever 10% of the Canadian average is. For energy use that might mean you have triple-glazed windows, skylights for light, a combination of geothermal and solar for heating, and cook with methane from a methane converter that you feed with your own, uh, waste. That way you just need electricity to run the geothermal pump and your computer.

    In our situation some of these become difficult because our physical footprint is small and efficient. Say we cover our rooftops with solar water heaters. Does that supply enough hot water for everyone in the building or just the top floor? Even if there’s enough water for everyone, it will need to run down into tanks in people’s own apartments, not up from tanks in the basement; will our tenants be happy about giving up the space? If the methane converter stinks, what is our obligation to our tenants and neighbours?

    Comment by alison — Friday, February 20th, 2009 @ 07:35

  3. Oh, and RE Pepe’s incontinence problem: He was three years old and paper-trained when we got him, so we put out paper (which stinks) or wee-wee pads (which are plastic-backed) for him to pee on, and then we throw them out.

    Comment by alison — Friday, February 20th, 2009 @ 07:43

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