Greener Essays – Part 4 – Stuff & Resources

When we first started learning more about the world, for example what is wrong with the food or how dangerous plastic is, my mind was whirling. I decided to type out everything in my own words, which became these ‘essays’, which I scrapbooked and included in our family photo album to chart the changes we were making in our life.
Since I’m on vacation this week with my in-laws, I thought it would be a good time to post all my essays from last year, showing what we learned, and how we’ve shaped our lives around this information to be the people we are this year.
So here is Part Four of the Six Part series…

Stuff, August 2012
With the “microwave-safe” plastic gone, and the ceramic dishes breaking in the microwave, we found that we were rarely using it. I wondered if we needed one at all? In Dr. Lita Lee’s book, Health Effects of Microwave Radiation, she stated that “every microwave oven leaks electro-magnetic radiation, harms food, and converts substances cooked in it to dangerous organ-toxic and carcinogenic products.” However there are other articles that encourage microwave use, one such article states: “The “leakage” of microwave radiation is strictly monitored by the FDA and manufacturers have to prove that their microwave oven leaks only a miniscule amount of radiation.” Well that’s good, we’re only eating small amounts… uhg, mental head slap! Out went the microwave! It’s been gone a month now – and I have not missed it once! Our food tastes better when it’s slowly re-heated on the stove or in the oven. And it got me thinking… …what else might be lazing around the apartment making us sick, or just plain wasting our time and resources. My eyes rested on the third tv, the few plastic toys that we’d left in the girls room after the plastic purge a month ago, they never play with them… …things just wasting space, like the second desk, and things collecting dust like the never used golf clubs. We did a room by room, item by item inventory of EVERYTHING we own. From the couch to the candlesticks. We did a more thorough search for plastics, and tossed out what we could. Most of it was too useless to even sell. Also, have you ever toasted your bread in a frying pan with some butter? Heavenly we discovered – so goodbye to the toaster! The biggest thing we dispatched was the car. Cars = gas guzzling machines that are an endless drain on personal finances and the worlds resources. They depreciate in value, while I have to pay for gas, car insurance, oil changes, car washes, DMV fees, parking fees, traffic tickets, and car accidents with large deductibles. Plus I trend toward stress and road rage at incompetent drivers, AND I have to scrape the ice off the windshield every morning in the winter. Or, for $100 a month, I can hop on the bus right outside my apartment complex, transfer to a train, and it drops me off in front of my work. One bus down to the library, or the store. And where else do you really need to go? Nowhere that can’t be reached by bus, or an occasional rental car. And so that is how we got rid of our “stuff”, everything that wasn’t useful or meaningful.

Resources, September 2012
Next we turned our attention to the resources we were consuming. We are signed up for wind energy, it costs a little extra, but it’s worth it for the peace of mind. Still, do we really need to use so much of it? Does the tv really need to be on for background noise? And does the computer need to be kept on 24/7? Do we have to take twenty minute showers? We put rules into place to severely cut back on our “screen time”, unplugged all the power strips when not in use, had low flow aerators installed on our facets and shower head, and used the light from the window during the day instead of turning on lights. We also sold anything that was always constantly plugged in wasting power, like the clocks, night lights, and the raucous pesky home phone. We invested in a hand crank powered radio, switched the clocks/nightlight to use rechargeable batteries. We also hand wash some of the dishes, only run the dishwasher when it’s full, and use blankets instead of the heater when possible. Next we switched to energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs, they provide an equivalent amount of bright light, and use only 10% of the energy consumed by a normal light bulb. By over-using power the population is creating more carbon than the world can renew back to oxygen, we need to breathe oxygen, so we are literally suffocating ourselves. Our family’s measures might be considered extreme, but what would be the effect if every household moved to conservation methods, instead of their consumer methods? As soon as the tv is turned off, my youngest daughter’s first request is always “can we go play outside?” and my response is always a cheerful “Absolutely!” Why didn’t we do this sooner? All those hours watching mindless cartoons, they could have been outside playing in the grass! What about my tv and computer time? I discovered that with the “screens” off I spent A LOT more time with my family, we read books more, individually and out loud to each other, even my non-book-worm hubby. We put more time and thought into our cooking, improving our food choices. We spent more time outside, on walks, and at the park. We played more games, we laughed. We transitioned from lethargy to bliss, and discovered that energy conservation is not a hardship.

The Scrapbook Pages: