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

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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Questions and first dilemmas 27/12/2009

First, thanks to all of you for your encouraging reactions to our experiment and our blog! Many of you already raised a few interesting suggestions and questions, which we gladly take into consideration.

We’ve made a few changes to the rules based on the reactions we received. First, we’ve decided to make the ‘sweets and snacks’ rule a bit stricter. In essence, we don’t need sweets and snacks so we shouldn’t buy or eat them. Our initial rule was to only eat home-made sweets and snacks, but with that rule we would be able to buy  as many eggs and as much chocolate as we wanted to make chocolate mousse every day… On the other hand, if we have people over for dinner, we don’t want to be bad hosts and serve plain simple food only. So we changed the rules a bit. We can make sweets and deserts when we have guests (we do have to make them ourselves though). If we don’t have guests, in principle we don’t make sweets or snacks, unless we have all the ingredients in stock anyway (e.g. when we have a lot of apples, we would be able to make an apple pie if we had flour, butter and sugar as well). We’re not allowed to buy ingredients for sweets and snacks especially (unless we have guests).

A second change to the rules concerns general rule nr. 4. This rule used to say that we had to do research in order to find the cheapest option if we really needed to buy something. This was a little confusing and the rule seemed to be contradicting the third rule. The idea was, and we’ve changed the rule accordingly, to choose a product first, based on the general rule of sustainability, and then to spend some time doing research to find the cheapest place to buy it.

A couple of problems or dilemmas based on reactions we received remain:

  • Cancelling our internet subscription is not an option. Karin works at home one or two days a week and does need the internet for this. Driving back and forth to work on these days would be much less sustainable than cancelling the internet subscription.
  • It was suggested to stop using wifi and get wired again. We’re studying the feasibility of this in our house now.
  • We started taking the adapters of our laptop out of the power socket as soon as the battery was full. However, some people have suggested that this actually is not very good for the durability of the battery. But leaving the plugs in the socket all the time doesn’t seem the best option as well. What to do?

Please share your opinions on these matters with us!

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The making of the rules 20/12/2009

Filed under: Food & drinks,General,Transportation — Karin @ 21:54
Tags: , ,

First mindmap of the rules of our experiment

Today we started thinking about the rules of our experiment. We have been thinking about the general rules for quite some time already and I started elaborating on these general rules in the back of my agenda a while back as well. But 2010 is getting closer and we felt that we should really have some clear rules of how to live the experiment before we started it. We started out by defining the categories of our life for which we thought we should make rules. We came up with the categories of clothes, energy, food & drink, household, leisure, personal care, transportation and travel. For each category we had a brainstorm to formulate the rules. Finally we added a category of exceptions to the rules as well.

While setting up the rules, we encouterend a few dilemmas already. For instance about transportation. Obviously, the best option would be to use public transportation as often as possible, both for work and for private trips. For my daily commute, I think public transportation really is not an option. By car it takes me an hour to drive from home to work, if I would take the train it would take at least two hours. In addition, the only train that I could take every hour leaves at impossible times. So I tried to

Brainstorming about the rules

‘compensate’ this by the intention to take the train to meetings more often.

Another difficult topic concerns food & drinks. Especially the sweets and snacks part can be approached in several ways. We could decide not to eat any sweets and snacks for a whole year, but we could also opt for not buying any prefab sweets and snacks. Finally, we chose for the latter option, which still leaves us with some awkward situations. Like this one: with the current rule, we are allowed to buy a bar of chocolate to make desert (chocolate mousse!) or cake, but we are not allowed to eat the chocolate when we’re having tea. Well. We’ll see.

We have listed our rules on a seperate page of this blog. Any feedback on our rules, including suggestions for additions, changes, etc. and tips for leading a consumeless and sustainable life are more than welcome!

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