Consumeless for a year

A journal of a year of consuming less and consuming sustainably

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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Car vs. public transportation – trade off 12/01/2010

I’ve had a couple of work meetings since we’ve started this experiment, and our rule about work-related transportation says I should “take public transportation to meetings if time allows”. We knew beforehand that this was a rule which is very much open to interpretation, but I have actually been comparing the time it would take to travel by car to that of traveling by train or bus for each meeting. I ended up taking the car to each of these meetings. To be honest, I really feel that the extra travel time that public transportation would cost me is too much for each of these meetings, but I’m curious about your opinions. What time difference do you think is acceptable?

Some examples:

  • Yesterday I had a two-hour meeting in Genk. Driving from Maastricht to Genk (I was working at home) takes about 35 minutes. The quickest public transportation option was taking two busses (Maastricht – Hasselt – Genk), which would take 1 hour and 40 minutes. Extra consideration: working in the bus is not really feasible.
  • Today I had two meetings in Gent (in total from 12:00 to 17:00). I drove to my work in Leuven first (my normal commute), which took about 1 hour and 10 minutes. I arrived at work at 8:15 and left to Gent at 10:45. Driving to Gent cost 50 minutes. Afterwards, I drove to Oostende (about 40 minutes) because I have a very early meeting tomorrow morning. After that meeting, I’ll drive to Leuven (which should be an hour and a half), and in the evening I will drive back home (which should be a little over 1 hour). So total travel time by car is approximately 5 hours and 10 minutes.
    Taking public transportation would have looked like this:

    • The trip Maastricht – Gent would take 3 hours (by bike – 2 trains and a bus). It would not have made sense to go to Leuven first, so I would have missed the 2 hours and 30 minutes of working time, but I could have worked in the train for about 2 hours (split into 90 minutes and 30 minutes slots).
    • From Gent to my hotel in Oostende would have cost 1 hour and 30 minutes.
    • From Oostende to Leuven would have cost 2 hours and 15 minutes (of which I could have worked 1 hour and 40 minutes in the train).
    • From Leuven to Maastricht would have cost 2 hours.
    • Total travel time would have been 8 hours and 45 minutes.

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