Measure Me A Miracle
So you all know that I joined the Riot for Austerity back in September of last year. For those of you who don't know about the R4A, It is a group of ecologically-minded folks who are attempting to reduce their emissions to 90% of what the Average American uses. It is, to say the least, a daunting task, but it has helped me to stay focused on my sustainability goals, as both the Yahoo Group and the R4A Website have oodles of encouraging folks and helpful information.
Anyswaze, one of the members of the group, Christine, has decided to write a book on the subject. She asked for volunteers who would be willing to speak with her about the challenge and I raised my hand without even thinking. Wish I had. Because, of course, Christine wanted to know my actual numbers. Had I reached the 90% mark? Was I even close? Crap, I thought, I'm gonna be the Biggest Loser of the R4A group. Once again proving that, if nothing else, I can be used as a bad example.
Well, it turns out my numbers aren't as bad as I thought. The R4A breaks your emissions down into seven separate categories: Gasoline, Electricity, Heating/Cooking Gas, Garbage, Water, Consumer Goods and Food. Here's how I did:
Gasoline: 37% of what the Average American uses. Ugh. This is exactly the same percentage I was at one year ago. However, last year Ethan was going to preschool three days a week, at a school one mile down the road. This year he goes four days a week to a preschool 10 miles away. So obviously I have managed to cut out some frivolous driving somewhere. This number should definitely improve when the kids go on summer break!
Electricity: 4% of what the Average American uses. Now before you think I'm typing by candlelight, you should know I get a 4:1 allowance on electricity because I get all my sparks from wind power (And You Can Too!). All I can say is that I couldn't be friggin happier about this number! Last year at this time I was at 23%. I just need to be careful during the summer not to go all crazy with the A/C.
Heating / Cooking Gas: 101% of what the Average American uses. :-( Very sad. Our heating system is so inefficient it makes me want to puke. Our thermostat is set at 65 day and 55 night, yet I still used 84 Ccf of gas last month. Grrrr. Still better than last February, though, when I was at 212%! Yikes!
Garbage: 8% of what the Average American produces. Rocktastic! How'd I get here? I choose my products (and their packaging) very, very carefully, I reduce, reuse, freecycle and recycle whatever I can, and I compost. Also? I just don't buy new shit much. My family of four produces one tall kitchen bag worth of trash each week. Last year? I was at 48%.
Water: 28% of what the Average American uses. That freakin' pre-rinse is killing me! ;-) That, and the fact that hubby loves nothing more than a long, hot shower every. single. morning. I'm working hard on this, but need to find more ways to save. I'm too close to give up now! Last year at this time I was at 31%, but peaked at 84% when I was using the irrigation system in the summer. You can bet your sweet ass that won't happen again!
Consumer Goods: 77% of what the Average American spends. This category is downright embarrassing. I looked at the amount of money we spent on pure crap last year and it was amazing. I didn't give myself the allotted allowance for buying used items (too hard for me to track) but still. That number is just way too high. Our numbers bounced up and down a lot last year, but our average for the past twelve months was actually 151% of the Average American. Maybe I need to re-read Affluenza.
Foods: This category is really difficult for me to track, so I'm just gonna say that I'm doing what I can to buy locally and start adding more "bulk bin food" to our diet. It's a slow process, especially this time of year, but joining the CSA, seeking out locally raised meats, and starting my own garden this year will definitely help.
Well there it is, folks. All my numbers laid out for the whole world to see. Not the greatest, but WAY better than where I was a year ago. Every change I make gets me a percentage point or two closer to my goal. I guess I need to keep making those changes, eh?