Fortunately, this post gets better as it goes. There’s going to be some barrel-scraping this deep in the list of 100 things to do while pining for an electric car. If you are a new visitor, you might enjoy an older post better. See an index in the next post down.
71. Can I go a year without buying plastic food bags or plastic wrap? Plastic bags have their uses, especially in the freezer. How to repeatedly re-use them? I’ve double bagged and kept the outer one clean. Time to take it up a notch. I’m not thrilled with washing them, but the worst part is drying them. So I have drilled into a suitable block of wood (an old candle holder) and stuck in dowels like Sputnik and that way I air-dry them. It’s working and I’ll have no problem achieving this goal.
But I embarassed myself when sending leftovers home with relatives recently after a long-awaited family reunion dinner. I was asked, “Can I have a baggie, a zip lock for that?” “No!” I fairly shouted in my host-haze. We came up with something else, but the sisters-in-law may never look at me the same way again.
72. Carry used foil or containers to pack home Mom’s leftovers from our lunches out.
73. Run out of milk? It happens. In an effort to avoid silly trips for one item, I’ve been trying pantry substitutes. We’re not that thrilled with soy milk anymore. Have now tried hemp milk and found it not bad. Now I have a carton of rice milk at the ready for next time.
74. “Food-Plus Toter.” This one is actually a biggie and has me excited. Our sainted local garbage and curbside recycling company (I’ve written about it before) operates a food+yard waste program that isn’t widely known. I knew about it, but had a couple of barriers—the ten dollar monthly cost, for something I personally would barely half-use, and the difficulty in finding a smaller garbage toter to reduce cost on the other side of the bill.
Solution: Three neighbors sharing the Food+Plus toter. Now I can keep my own primo compost going, organic kitchen peels and maple leaves. And into the Food-Plus toter go my vacuum cleaner bags, chicken bones, flowering weeds, the harder to compost stuff. This is already turning out to re-route quite a few things that were going into the garbage headed for the landfill to make methane that we can’t use and hurts us. whew. And, a la late night commercials, “That’s not all!” Because a neighboring family of three not composting any food before now will be using the toter, their (valid) reason (critters) being solved by the toter. This is great. So I’ve rearranged the pantry pull-out to add a small pail for Food+Plus.
I could have kept the standard garbage toter as provided, but I guess I wanted not only to save that $2 a month going to half-size, but proudly show my deed on the street on garbage day. So I paid too much to get a cute wheeled model. Bright green, naturally. I have visions of taking it to a neighborhood association meeting and doing a talk in which I let people know how much smarter they are than I am, because anyone with normal strength and living a normal distance to the street can do fine to downsize with a cheap can they can get anywhere!
75. Re-subscribe to our local enviro newspaper rather than picking it up for free. The information on research about our lake and county—priceless. [the word “priceless” hasn’t been trademarked, has it?]
76. Educate myself. Last month I went on a tour of our sewer wastewater treatment plant. Actually not too smelly. Definitely interesting.
77. So following that, I reinstated “If it’s yellow, let it mellow,” as a toilet protocol. You don’t really expect me to boldface any of this one, do you? They said it helps if less water is coming at them. If this is not to your liking, you can, if you have old high water using toilets, place a plastic bottle filled with water (and rocks if needed to keep it sunk) in your tank to displace a liter or two and save that amount of water per flush. Toilets are our biggest household use of water.
78. Found a truly no-effort improvement I can make even this deep in my list. Today I read a tip that most cars don’t need a warm up before you start driving. Not being a car person, I have relied all these years on some rather old wisdom about warming up the car at idle for awhile. I’ve been idling for maybe a minute and a half. So I marched right down to the owner’s manual in the glovebox. There it was: 10 seconds is all the warm up my car wants. Well, alright. I feel foolish, but on the other hand, I’ve ticked off number #78!
79. Efficiency/simplification in cooking. I figure that will keep me cooking more and opening cans less. So I’m trying the tip that was in the NY Times food section recently: Keep a kitchen scale out on the counter and use fewer measuring cups. So for instance this morning I put my bowl on the scale and poured water directly in till I had 8 oz for my cooked cereal. And why dig honey out of a measuring cup? Hate to waste any that the bees worked so hard to make.
80. Pumpkin bread from sweet pumpkin. It was heavenly. I’m starting to add notes into my recipes giving weights for the amount of the ingredient.
81. While I’m in the kitchen, what about lemons vs. living local? They are small and I have pictured them as rumbling up the coast by truck in a big, relatively efficient load. But now I read they are often flown, same as cherry tomatoes. There is a lot to be said for picking your battles, and this still seems pretty tiny, for something that is so delicious and hard to give up. But what if there is a substitute? No kidding, there is! Called “verjuice,” or “verjus,” it’s made from under-ripe wine grapes. The ever curious Mr. W bought some from TERRASONOMA®. We used it in a vinaigrette and something else, then I finished the bottle by making a wonderful dessert, verjuice bars. A ringer for lemon bars, only slightly gentler-flavored, which was more than fine by me. My foodie friends gave it a big thumbs up, too.
Yes, it was a disposable glass-bottle, so we’re not there yet on emissions. And not made in this state. Not yet, that is. Maybe it’ll become one of those do-it-at-home things, like home brew or bottled apple cider. Or part of a subscription, added to a CSA farm operation? They pick up and re-use the waxed carboard boxes our share comes in, why not bottles, too?
82. Be a busybody. When I noticed that the plastic mugs + lids that a local retirement residence had issued to residents were worn out and Styrofoam™ cup usage had shot up, I looked online for a no-spill alternative. I am acquainted with the manager because my mother lives there. She was interested, so I sent her links to some cool double-wall tumblers with silicone lids.
83. Re-double my eco education and get ready to help others make changes. Got invited to commit 100 project hours in exchange for a ten week University Extension course on our ecological carbon problem. Heckova deal: Voluntarily jump into a pit of depressing information and then get to work my way out. Only an endearing and very enthusiastic person could induce me to do this. You know who you are, Joyce. Thankfully there are some uplifting and very cool projects (see photo of WWU X-car) that we’re learning about as well as the bad news, and my fellow community education volunteers are great new friends.
84. Bank e-statement instead of paper. Finally. Actually, I should say credit union. We haven’t used banks for awhile. Not since the 1970s for Mr. W. Who’d have thought someone so old could be so in step?
85. Protest erroneous journalism. AARP the Magazine (November) had a cheery, colorful graphic piece purporting to help the reader choose the “Fuel-Friendliest Way to Go.” With my new education, I wrote in that the comparison made it look as though air travel was close to train travel in efficiency. However, the chart didn’t actually compare apples to apples. The airplane figure reflected a maximal plane load (large 747-400 with 416 passengers) while the train figure was only an average passenger load. That changes the passenger-miles per gallon (pmpg) figure considerably–the jet figure may fall from 61 pmpg to more like 33 pmpg.
Aside from that, the comparison I’d have liked to see would be that of total emissions. Airplane travel contributes about 1.26 lb. of CO2 equivalent per passenger mile.* We ARE talking jet fuel here. By comparison, train travel contributes only 0.35 lb. CO2 per passenger mile.
*Source: The Climate Neutral Network and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. So there. But I’d rather be wowed than be right. Today comes the news that Alaska Air is starting to use some biodiesel—French fries in the sky!