Thursday, July 26, 2012

Energy Efficient life style??

I have been inspired.  This topic has been on my mind for years, and I feel like it is time to write something about it.

A friend of mine at The Year of Less has challenged me (and all of us) to stop using our dryer for the month of August.  My first thought was - "It's not August yet. I can wash and dry a couple things today."  That is a terrible attitude. I am kind of embarrassed.

I honestly don't use the dryer a lot.  I like to use it for bath mats, stuffed animals and towels. I have one little girl who had a favourite bunny and I like to use the dryer after I wash it, and right now the bunny is filthy.

Last week Seth and I had a lengthy discussion about reducing your carbon footprint. (this discussion started when I found him cooling off in the chest freezer) He is aware of the state of the ozone layer and being environmentally friendly, but it never occurred to him that sitting in the freezer made any impact on this.

This discussion led to other discussions of reducing our waste and trying to encourage others to do the same.  I helped him to realize that the earth could be a very scary scary place 30 years from now.

I realize now that my family has been making changes as long as I have been alive. (and even longer)

There are a couple things I remember very clearly about my Oma, one of those things is that she never wasted water or food. She ate the skin of Kiwi's and the core of the apple. She NEVER drained the bath tub. The water left in the tub (after used my myself and my brothers if we were all visiting) was left in the tub with a jug which allowed her to pour the water into the back of toilet to flush it. She had reusable ice cubes and I don't recall ever seeing paper towel at her house. I know Air conditioning was not as popular when her house was built, but I am sure she didn't have one. (I should mention that she lived in Germany during the second world war. I think coming close to starvation makes you use things a little differently)

My father tells stories of sharing his bath water with his siblings.  The youngest went first, so he, being the oldest, got the dirtiest water, but that is nothing soap couldn't help. My nana has always picked berries at local farms and made her own jam. Same goes for the A/C at their house.

When I think of my mother in-law I realize that she is extremely environmental friendly. No A/C, hang dries all of her clothes, even in the winter because they have a wood burning stove to heat the house. I know she often buys her meat from local farmers and she grows and cans from her own, HUGE, vegetable garden.

My parents; we didn't get a second car until I was almost a teenager. We lived in a small house (yes, inconvenient and stuffy at times but most certainly energy efficient). Now they don't have A/C, and they raise their own cattle and sell it locally as well.  They now have a vegetable garden that my dad works to maintain and freezes food for the upcoming winter as well as canning and jamming (yes, Jamming it both senses of the word, haha)

Now I have been using my A/C like a crazy woman, granted it has been ridiculously hot, but I have been hang drying our clothes and as much as it pains me to say this, my kids don't get bathed nearly enough, so I am saving water! There is a reason that we, as a 5 person family, avoided purchasing a van and use a nice little station wagon instead. One car family here, which is relatively unheard of in our neighbourhood.  At the park I am constantly asked how I have not gone stir crazy and how I can stand being stuck at home all day with all the kids.  Plain and simple, I don't have an other option.

So here is my point.  Every time one of us makes a small decision to do something a little environmentally friendly we may be prolonging our children's future (or grandchildren's) on earth for a nano-second. If we are all making these choices, maybe the 30-40 year battle against carbon emissions will finally see a small victory.

I read a report that stated, yes, most households in North America have switched to using incandescent bulbs in their home, but have also made a switch to less energy efficient, big screen televisions. Thinking about the choices we are making in our home makes a huge difference.  I encourage everyone to join the challenge and stop using their dryer for the month of August.

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