Consumeless for a year

A journal of a year of consuming less and consuming sustainably

First ConsumeLess days, and first (micro)dilemmas 02/01/2010

We’re two days into our experiment! Happy new year to everybody!

Making lunch to go

The first of these days is not really worth mentioning, consumeless and sustainability-wise. We spent New Year’s Eve at friends in The Hague and New Year’s Day at Eise’s family. We went home after dinner so we didn’t have to purchase anything ourselves yesterday. We did however leave for The Hague right before lunch time on Thursday, so we brought our own sandwiches! Consumeless act number one.

Today was more of a day according to our new lifestyle. We did nothing special (doing some new year’s cleaning) and there were hardly any moments we had to think twice before doing something. We did buy six energy saving light bulbs to replace the last ‘normal’ bulbs in our house. And Eise had to go to both the supermarket and the organic food store (in stead of the super market only) to buy organic ingredients for our food this weekend. We had dinner completely according to our rules: we ate pumpkin, with onions, garlic and goat’s cheese (all organic) from the oven, risotto (not organic, but we still had it in stock) and (organic) salad.


Dinner brought us a (tiny) dilemma though. We usually leave the oven door open after taking out the food in order to let out the remaining heat. However, we have a oven/microwave oven combination which has an automatic light that switches on when the door is open. The question now is: does the heat from the oven that adds to the temperature in our kitchen outweigh the energy that is used for the light? I think not, but I’m not sure…

A related problem would arise (we just thought) when we want to heat something to drink. In winter, we like to drink hot apple juice with cinnamon (De Werf-style). What would be better: heating the apple juice in the microwave oven or in a pan on the stove? We have a halogen stove, but I have no clue whether heating something on this stove requires more energy than heating it in the microwave oven.

It’s not so easy, this applying consuming less and consuming sustainably to all aspects of our daily life!

A question that was asked a couple of times the last few days was how essential we thought visiting family and friends was (refering to our first rule, saying we only buy things if we really need them). We haven’t made up any rules about this except for the transportation rules. We have been thinking about this issue and decided not to make a special rule for this. The idea of this experiment was to try to live our lives as consumeless and as sustainably as possible, and our lives include visiting family and friends. Of course we will keep the transportation rules in mind all year!

Finally, a shocking fact I just came across reading National Geographic’s Green Guide (which I found in our stack of magazines I was sorting out), related to cotton production (which we’ve dicussed in the post Inspiration as well): “Conventional cotton production uses more than 18 percent of the world’s pesticides”! We’re seriously considering to never buy any other cotton than organic cotton in the future. Which is not too difficult anymore. Most mainstream stores (H&M, C&A, HEMA) have cotton basics these days. And buying organic jeans is not difficult as well (Kuyichi, Levi’s, Ascension, and probably many more).

So, this really is the start of our experiment to live as consumeless and as sustainable as possible for a year. We hope to hear from all of you, so please let us know what you think of our rules, our experiences and our blog! We are happy to receive any tips and suggestions!


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5 Responses to “First ConsumeLess days, and first (micro)dilemmas”

  1. Alard Says:

    Hi there, great initiative! I am sure you will face some very interesting challenges along with many eco dilemmas. Did you realise that having this website is not exactly eco friendly? Each search on google apparently ‘costs’ the energy equivalent of boiling one cup of water. But hey you need some sort of medium to keep everybody up to date. Here is a useful post on Mashable to keep your website as green as possible with some very practical tips ‘n tricks.

    BTW I was intrigued to learn from the book Superfreakonomics that there may be a very simple solution to global warming. Several clever engineers and ex-top execs invented some sort floating pipe to inject SO2 into a particular zone in the sky in polar regions to get the same effect volcanoes achieve when they erupt (the global temperature goes down). Hardly costs anything relatively speaking and does not have permanent effects (like vulcanoes). Worth a try now that Copenhagen was not really successful.

    Good luck with your experiment!

    • Karin Says:

      Hi Alard,

      Thanks for the tips! You’re not the first one pointing out that having a website and encouraging people to follow it is not too environmentally friendly. Actually, Jeroen (de W.) did the same :-). He suggested to calculate the maximum number of visitors we should allow to make sure our website doesn’t cost more energy than we save. But then we should of course also take into account the energy our visitors save as a result of visiting our blog. Difficult calculation!

      But you have a good point. I’ll check out the tips for a green website (I quickly checked and think that we should probably mainly aim for tip #6, and the posts are in white, which is apparently the best option for non-CRT monitors).


      P.S. Happy new year!

  2. Regarding the light/heat dilemma of the oven: as the heat of the oven will dissiminate into the room eventually, I recon a closed oven without light is more energy efficient.

    • Karin Says:

      Good point! Thanks for sharing! We are now thinking of a way to switch the oven off completely when we’re not using it (is has a display with a clock, which of course always uses a little energy). Annoyingly, the power socket is at the back of the oven, and we can’t reach it without taking the oven out of the cupboard.

      Cheers! And a happy new year (to Ellen as well)!

  3. This is my second visit to this blog. We are starting a brand new initiative in the same niche as this blog. Your blog provided us with important information to work on. You have done a admirable job..

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