Consumeless for a year

A journal of a year of consuming less and consuming sustainably

Our blog has moved! 24/01/2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karin @ 21:05

As of today, our blog is hosted by a ‘green’ web host. Unfortunately, that means that we have to change web addresses and that our blog will from now on not be updated on this address anymore.

This is the new address of our blog: www.consumelessforayear.com.

For some readers, this might also mean that they have to renew their subscriptions to our blog. You will know if this is necessary by checking whether you have received a notification of our first post on our new blog addres titled “New host, new URL, new look, more sustainable blog”. If you haven’t received such a notification, please visit our new address and subscribe to our blog again. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Vanaf vandaag wordt onze blog gehost door een ‘groene’ webhost. Helaas betekende dit dat we ook ons webadres moesten veranderen en dat onze blog vanaf nu niet meer op dit adres wordt bijgewerkt.

Dit is het nieuwe adres van onze blog: www.consumelesforayear.com.

Voor sommige lezers betekent dit dat ze zich opnieuw moeten abonneren op onze blog. Om te weten te komen of het nodig is je opnieuw te abonneren, kun je controleren of je bericht hebt ontvangen van onze eerste post op het nieuwe adres. Deze post heeft de titel “New host, new URL, new look, more sustainable blog”. Als je hiervan geen bericht hebt ontvangen, dan kun je onze blog op het nieuwe adres bezoeken en je daar opnieuw abonneren. Onze excuses voor het ongemak!!

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Reusing bike tubes 21/01/2010

Remote control with bike tube fix.

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My colleague Dries sent me a link to a cool sustainable product: plattfuss, rubber bands made of recycled bike tubes. The funny thing is, that we already use bike tubes as rubber bands at home! The remote control of our tv. tends to fall apart every once in a while, so Eise cut a piece of an old bike tube to keep the device together. Easy as that, and even quite aesthetic. This also reminds me of my father, who used to mend flat bike tires by cutting out a piece of an old bike tube to glue on the punctured tube. I’m not sure whether he still mends his tires like this, or whether he uses those prefab patches now.

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Repair manifesto

A while ago I came across the Repair Manifesto, part of Platform 21‘s project Platform 21 = Repairing. Platform 21 is a Dutch design platform. The idea behind their project is that repairing in stead of recycling is underestimated as a creative, cultural and economic force. The manifesto is written within this project “describing the benefits of fixing things and calling upon designers and consumers to break the chain of throwaway thinking”. I really like the idea of looking at the beautiful side of repairing. It reminds me of a strategy sometimes used by the Dutch State Service for Cultural Heritage (according to Eise’s father who told us this once). Their strategy in maintaining monuments is to do renovations in such a way that the original (broken) structure is still visible. By doing this, a building gets ‘scars’ showing its history. Beautiful! We plan to apply this principle in our own house as well. When we moved into this house, we replaced the stairs, which left a hole in the living room floor. It still is a hole, but we aim to fill this hole with wood in a way that won’t make it invisible, but that shows that there once was a hole.

But to get back to the Repair Manifesto. The eleven ‘rules’ fit very nicely into our own consumeless and sustainability rules, which is why I post the manifesto here.

 

Most sustainable lunch meeting so far 19/01/2010

Today I had a meeting with Stef,  whom I met in Brussels a couple of weeks ago. We wanted to discuss some mutual interests and possibilities for collaboration so we made a lunch date. Yesterday I sent him an e-mail to check whether we were still on for the lunch date and mentioned that I wouldn’t mind making another appointment if necessary because I try to bring my own lunch as much as possible (I briefly explained our consumeless experiment of course). Stef happily replied that he invited me to come over to his place so we could eat ‘bokes’ (sandwiches) together. And so we did. I brought my own lunch and we had a nice and constructive meeting. Interestingly, Stef and his family try to be self supporting with respect to energy. They almost manage to do so by using solar panels and a solar boiler!

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Family visit 18/01/2010

Making candles

This weekend we visited Eise’s brother Victor and his family in Bloemendaal. The good news was that we didn’t take Lotte, our dog, with us, so we were able to use public transportation. We bought a NS Voordeelurenabonnement, which gives a 40% discount (on all trains in weekends and on trains after 9:00 AM on week days). Hopefully this will stimulate us to take the train more often this year! This will be a major bottleneck, I’m afraid, since taking the train is about twice as expensive as the fuel it takes to go by car (with the two of us). We had to choose who of us would buy the Voordeelurenabonnement (the pass allows the owner plus 3 others to travel with a discount, so one pass is sufficient if we travel together). We figured that Eise would probably use the train on his own more often, so he bought the pass.

Home-made beeswax candles

We had a really nice weekend and finally spent some decent time with Eise’s nephews. And we had a very sustainable weekend too! Maaike, Victor’s girlfriend is fully into macrobiotic cooking, so we ate very healthy and very organic food! We brought a candle-making set as a present (beeswax candles, of course, paraffin is terribly unsustainable since its made of crude oil) so we made a huge amount of strange-looking candles (making candles isn’t that easy!). I was slightly tempted in a shoe store (Victor needed new shoes), where they had really cool and warm woolen slippers (something like these, but in bright pink) in my size for less than half of the price. But I didn’t need new slippers. So I didn’t buy them. Actually, it really was that easy! And furthermore we did mostly consumeless and sustainable stuff (feeding deer, visiting gnomes, etc.).

The coming few weeks I am home alone, so I have to cook for myself (I have to admit, Eise does most of the cooking, and usually I don’t take the trouble to cook a full meal when I’m home alone). Today that was no problem because I didn’t go to Leuven but to Hasselt so I was home earlier than usual and had plenty of time to cook.

One final thing worth mentioning is that I participated in a biweekly meeting at work via Skype so I did not have to travel to Leuven. Not a bad experience actually. With a little bit of microphone aiming by my colleagues I could hear everything quite well and we lost connection only once.

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Positive meeting news 15/01/2010

After complaining about meetings without veggie lunch options, I must also report two positive meetings I attended this week. The first one was a presentation of a project called The BlueCall Phone by Ithaka, a centre coaching people with a handicap. Part of the centre is an Oxfam Wereldwinkel, a shop selling fair trade products. It was an early breakfast meeting and Oxfam fair trade coffee, tea and orange juice  were served!

"Future friendly packaging" at TU Delft

Today I had a meeting at TU Delft‘s Studiolab. We had lunch in one of the faculties’ restaurants. Of course I should have brought my own lunch, but I find that a bit difficult, as I never know beforehand what the others’ plans are for lunch. I don’t want to be a killjoy. So. We went to the restaurant where I tried to assemble a sustainable lunch. I didn’t take any of the pre-prepared and pre-packaged salads or sandwiches, but took a unpackaged sandwich, some butter and some cheese. And a bowl of soup. I was happy to find organic butter milk (all dairy was organic). I was slightly less happy to find disposable plates, cups, bowls and forks, knives and spoons. However, all plates, bowls and cups had a sign saying “future friendly packaging”. No clue what that means exactly, but at least the restaurant tries to be more sustainable I guess!

By the way, we went to Eise’s parents last Wednesday, so I went to Delft by bike! 😉

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Organic trademarks US vs Europe/Netherlands 13/01/2010

Eko keurmerk

In both the books No Impact Man and in Eating Animals (by Jonathan Saffran Foer), I read that US organic trademarks are mostly commercially driven and the rules that they prescribe do not really guarantee organic products, animal welfare, etc. For instance, in the US, a cow that never gets to go outside (but has a window with a view) can provide certified organic beef and dairy.

To be honest, reading this upset me quite a bit. So I did a little research into European and Dutch organic trademarks. I was happy to find out that the rules here are much stricter. For example, a Dutch trademark which is very common is the Eko Keurmerk. I looked up the rules this trademark sets and that looks much better than the American stories I read about. To be Eko certified, animals should be able to go out whenever they want. And stables should accommodate species-specific behaviour (e.g. chickens like to sleep while sitting on a roost, so this should be provided in a stable. And pigs that are about to have piglets build a nest, so nesting material should be available.). What I also liked, is the fact that Eko allows for giving animals medication when they are sick, as long as their meat or produce is not used for a period twice as long as the medication manufacturer prescribes. No Impact Man tells a story of a dairy farmer who isn’t allowed to say that his milk is organic, because he gives is animals medication when they are sick. Apparently, to produce certified organic milk in the US, no medication at all is allowed, so animals who have a simple infection that won’t cure naturally have to be put down.

So, I am slightly reassured, but this again shows that we really need to be critical, and that we shouldn’t believe everything that manufacturers want us to believe. I also wonder whether there are ‘truly organic’ trademarks in the US.

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