I thought it was about time to provide an update on my family’s efforts to green up our lifestyle.
For those newer to the list who need to be brought up to speed, about 18 months ago my husband and I undertook some major initiatives and “go green”. This has included several types of investments into our home including solar electric panels, on-demand hot water, new insulation, new windows, doors and screens, and new gutters and rain barrels. It has also included some lifestyle changes such as less driving, turning off my extra freezer, draining the hot tub early, shopping with a grocery list and with coupons, canning (which was a riot), Freecycling and air drying clothes. We also got more creative and focused on local entertainment to cut down on driving and expense. Every few months, I have been writing about the experience.
We achieved a lot. For the last six months, we have received a rebate/credit for electricity, meaning that the value of we sold was greater than the value of the power we used. Our gas bill has been consistently 25% less than the same time the previous year. Our grocery bills dropped 40% and I would argue that we have been eating a heck of a lot better than before this initiative. More important, I believe these initiatives gave me a boost of confidence that we are capable to living on less. A side benefit was meeting and connecting with a lot of people who share similar interests.
Over time, we have not been perfect however. Some times during the act of bargain-hunting, we used more energy than we gained from the savings. Sometimes we just didn’t like the alternatives (Selection Lasagna in particular!). Sometimes you just need to buy the convenience item or make an impulse buy (especially chocolate and a can of Coke after a bad day at work).
One of the bigger challenges for me has been dealing with the conflict of choosing between “use-it-up”, “home-grow it”, “go green” “keep to your budget” and “enjoy it”. I am an avid gardener. Over the years, I have built up a huge shed worth of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and outdoor cleaners. My continual debate is whether to use what I have, send it to the destruction facility, or give it away. My vote was to use what I have. I tried to justify this by telling myself that it was my last hurrah before downsizing my flower beds, living with more muted colours, and giving up my battle with lawn weeds, ants, weevils, and wasps. In the end, next year I will start trying out some green alternatives. I will say that my plants seemed to like the rain water from my rain barrels more than the water from the sprinklers.
Have you undertaken a similar project or would like to share a tip? I would love to hear from you.