90% Project — Week 1

Week 1 of 52 of the 90% Reduction Project down.

Things done (some of them more in lead-up weeks, but I’m not sure I’ve written about them):

— Drastically reduced shower use: showers are now navy-style or shared, and only twice a week (there may be additional shorter rinse-offs as the weather gets hotter), and we have our shiny new low-flow showerhead.

— Donated a whole load of stuff to the thrift store. Not really a positive so much as preventing a negative (throwing it out or taking up storage space), but it reduces clutter and makes room for mindfully-purchased replacements if and when they are needed. And that makes those objects available for someone who needs them without creating more stuff.

— Started cutting up a pretty but stained old sheet for napkins, hankies, and rags.

— Bought two new clothesdrying racks (bringing the total up to three, which should be more than enough for a big load of laundry), and will ask landlord about putting up eyelets on the back porch beams for a clothesline when his cellphone isn’t out.

— Begun shifting dry grains, flour, and pasta to organic and as local as possible, which unfortunately isn’t very local so far.

— Begun shifting dry goods and cleaning products to bulk. We’ve been having excellent success with this so far, except in the area of snack products. Nuts are easy to find in bulk, but the other snacks at the co-op are just not very good — they’re not the kinds we like, and more importantly are often stale. Maybe I’ll check Whole Foods sometime. Most of our cleaning products now consist of vinegar and Dr Bronner’s Magic Soap. Dr Bronner’s isn’t remotely local, but it’s available in bulk and is so concentrated that we go through it very slowly. If I can find local castille soap, I’ll switch to that, particularly for me-washing. It’s harder to do dishes with bar soap, which local soap tends to be.

— Ordered some used books on Amazon on organic/sustainable gardening for next year, and obtained a plan for a solar drier utilizing mainly cardboard boxes. Some drying, freezing, and piling-in-the-basement will happen this year, but a lot of it will be learning how to do it so that next year we can get a whole CSA share (we’re hopefully splitting this year’s with this mysterious person who doesn’t answer his email) and have enough to really live off of. We might even try canning if I can convince Ben that I won’t do it wrong and make us sick.

— Got rid of the Giant TV of Doom we were babysitting from Ben’s previous roommate who understandably doesn’t want to bring it up to his new 3rd-floor apartment. It died. We now have a smaller TV from Craigslist. Not as small as I’d like, but still smaller than the other one, and we’re getting good about switching off the power strip when we’re not using it.

— Made resolution to get all clothing used, except for shoes and underclothing. Underclothing will be sustainably and ethically (and locally so far as that’s possible) purchased. I’m not sure about shoes yet. I don’t know where to find ethical shoes at a physical store and have slightly nontypical-shaped feet such that I really need to actually try them on. I’ll do some research, and also see how high on the Evil-o-Meter New Balance falls (where I’ve found the only shoes that have ever really, really fit). I suppose this doesn’t exactly “count”, but it’s something that I’ve been very resistant to in the past. You want me to pay *how much* for a bra?? But never buying new clothes will free up funds to buy expensive underwear, and at least it’s usually expensive sensible underwear, rather than flimsy bits of lace.

— I got a new job! This will start in about a week, and will reduce my gas usage since now I can walk to work.

— Developed new dishwashing protocol. All is being done by hand, using possibly more water than necessary, but saving on electricity through not using the dishwasher. This was actually done to prevent ants rather than to prevent waste, but has the side effect of less electrical usage, and I’m not all that profligate with water. I will experiment with water-saving techniques for dishwashing.

— Started measuring out water amount for tea making rather than just filling up the hotpot an eyeballing it. Probably not actually something that makes any difference in and of itself, but it’s a good exercise in mindfulness of resource use, and that way the water boils faster.

Stuff for next week:

— Finish making cloth hankies/napkins.

— First CSA pickup on Tuesday!

— Pick two or three days and monitor water usage. I’m not sure how much water the toilet uses, but I can at least count flushes and find an average figure to use.

— Weigh recycling. I was going to do it this week, but Ben brought it out early and I didn’t feel like bringing it back in again just to weigh it. It wasn’t all that heavy this week.

Stats:
— We’re at more than 90% below average for landfill garbage, and probably roughtly at goal for recycling, though I need to verify that. Go team!

— Water usage has dropped, though I don’t have any hard numbers for original or currant usage.

— Electricity usage has probably slightly dropped. I think we get an electric bill next week.

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