Consumeless for a year

A journal of a year of consuming less and consuming sustainably

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.

 

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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Grinding coffee 03/01/2010

Filed under: Food & drinks,Household — Karin @ 09:56
Tags: , , , ,

Eise, quite correctly, thought that we should grind coffee manually again, in stead of electrically. We used to do this for a while, but a few years ago we bought a good electric coffee grinder. Which we will put away for a year now… Fortunately, we did save the manual grinder!

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Eise grinding coffee

Electric grinder waiting to be put away for a year

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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

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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Laundry 31/12/2009

Clothes lines on the attic

So, after a final shopping spree in Den Bosch (ashamed to admit I bought two pairs of shoes!), we are gradually making our rules effective. Yesterday, Eise made enough clothes lines on the attic to hang the two washing machines full of clothes we wash every week. No tumble drying anymore!

Last week we also brought my hiking shoes (which were a tad too narrow) to the shoemaker who streched them (in stead of buying new ones). I still have to test them (usually my toes start hurting after about 4 kilometers). Eise fixed our kitchen geyser (which also provides hot water for our shower) himself. He dismantled the geyser, discovered a broken part (a membrane of some kind), ordered a new membrane online (for € 5) and fixed it! And, thanks to Ellen’s suggestion, we opened three bank accounts at Triodos Bank, a sustainable bank (they even won the award for the most sustainable bank of the world this year!). I still have to order a Visa Greencard (waiting for our new bank accounts to be fully up and running) and then we are completely banking sustainably.

Today is the last day we could do some thoughtless consuming, but we probably won’t have time for it.

Have a great New Year’s Eve everybody!

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