Week 2 Summary

electricity
As I posted before, our monthly usage went down slightly but distinctly. I also just placed an order for some dimmable CFLs for the dining room. This, of course, kills any chance at staying on target for spending, but it’s for the cause. We did run the dryer and dishwasher each once this week, but that was due to special circumstances (visiting parents), and I also air-dried a whole load and set up a better hand dishwashing system. So in all, I’m very happy with the little changes this week.

Transit
Pretty much like normal — a few extra miles for getting taken places by parents. This will change starting next week. Well, actually it wont’, because we’re going on vacation. But normal gas usage will go down.

Water
I’ve done some modifications and calculations, which are simultaneously empowering and depressing. I couldn’t find any gpf on the toilet — it may be on the back of the tank where I can’t see it — so I just calculated the tank’s volume. Counting the fact that it has an old juice bottle stuck in it, it appears to be about a 4.75 gallon tank. Boo. Evil old toilet. And it leaks. But maybe we can convince the landlord that the seal is so unfixably misaligned that he should get a new toilet. I’d even pay for it.

But on the happy front, I have started doing the two-basin dishwashing method, realizing that my normal dishwashing procedure is horribly wasteful. I washed what was about 1.5 loads of dishes (we use the dishwasher as a drying rack, and it was rather overfull) on about 10 cups of water, which I was then also able to pour into one of the bowls and use to water the garden. Yay primitive greywater technology! I also find it much more theraputic than the normal method…it feels more like I’m bathing the dishes. It does use a tiny amount of electricity to heat the water in the hot pot, since I realized that this was probably actually better than turning on the hot water and making all that hot water go up from the basement when I only need two or three cups of it.

Assuming about 2 loads of laundry every three weeks (6 gal/week) and two navy showers equaling about 3 minutes water time (10.5 gal) each per week, and 1/2 gallon of water for doing dishes per day, I am allowed to flush the toilet once a day, leaving a little over two gallons left over per day for drinking, cooking, and washing hands. I need about a gallon per day for drinking (my body, the doctor has determined, simply appears not to absorb water very well), some of which can be in the form of soup or other liquidy food, leaving one gallon for assorted other purposes. Spartan, but probably doable. The toilet is really the big problem…there are times when one really needs to flush more than once a day. I could get three flushes per day with a modern toilet, which is much more reasonable. What I may try to do is keep a container next to the toilet to pee into sometimes and put on the garden. I will also try to save some water from the shower to go into the toilet tank, limiting the amount of fresh water it has to use. And the landlord will be poked repeatedly until he either fixes or replaces the toilet.

Food
Here, we win :-) Mostly, at least. We did eat out twice, but it wasn’t really our choice, and at the second restaurant the waitress cheerfully explained exactly why Ben’s fish was sustainable, if not local, when we asked. Our first CSA pickup was on Tuesday, and we’ve been eating mostly that or leftovers, combined with some local tofu (no clue where the soybeans came from, but at least those count as nonperishable bulk until they become tofu) and organic pasta, and some nonlocal/organic stuff that has been in the cupboards since before the project started. We’re stopping by the farmers’ market on Saturday to supplement the masses of green things we already have, and to check for sustainable animal products. Mmmmm….chlorophyll….

Garbage
Still well on-target. We produced about 5 or 6 pounds of garbage, and probably about 2 or 3 pounds of recycling. I’m being vague because I’m weighing them by standing on the scale, picking up the garbage, and calculating the difference. When it’s less than five pounds, the cheap analogue scale we have isn’t very accurate. But yay! And we also started a compostables bin on Tuesday…we’re not ready to start composting on our own due to that entailing indoor composting of some kind which requires more in the way of space, skill, and startup costs, but we can bring vegetable bits to the farm.

Consumer Goods
Mainly I bought the dimmable CFLs, and a couple of used coffee mugs to donate to
the department I worked for. The CFLs set me way, way over target, but otherwise
I’m doing just fine. Oh, and I got a Massachusetts state ID. Does that count as a consumer good? Probably. It wasn’t very expensive.

Other
I suppose this could go into food, but it’s not actually food yet…there’s someone down the street who has a nectarine tree, the fruit of which went to rot for the past two years, so we finally asked him what he was doing with them. He says that they’re not very good nectarines, but that we’re welcome to come pick them any time! They’re currently little green balls. I figure that if they’re not that juicy or sweet, we can always cook with them.

I finished cutting up all the rags I need from the sheet, and there’s some more
left. I may make produce bags out of some of the rest of it if we decide we need more. I also may hem some of the rags with the cotton I’ve been spinning.

I measured the garden — it’s slightly bigger than I thought. We have about 250
square feet consisting of one 9×9 plot and one 13×13 plot. There’s also room enough in front of the hedge to grow beans and train them up the hedge. I’ll ask if we can do that. Mainly I should tell the landlord that we are doing that so that the landscaping people do not helpfully trim back our lentil vines. I’ve been reading “Food Not Lawns”, which is an excellent gardening-based activism guide. I’m using it plus the more strictly gardening books I have to plan the garden for next year.

Targets for next week:
— Implement water plan as much as possible; definitely use new dishwashing
method.
— Buy no non-local-farms produce.
— Get a thermometer and measure temperature in fridge, then turn down (up? make it
warmer.) as needed. The gauge is helpfully set to “C” at the moment.
— Make our vacation as low-impact as possible. Bring some sandwiches instead of eating in the airport/train station, eat veggie when we do eat out, etc.
— Figure out how to better preserve leafy green veggies — these wilted badly overnight in the fridge.
— Go to the 3rd Sunday gathering at the farm this Sunday and help make community connections :-)
— Now that it’s summer, eat more raw food. Not that we’re using an appreciable amount of natural gas to cook anyway, but this means we’ll use less, heat the apartment less, and have a bit more season-mindfulness.

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