Done! See if I take on a rash challenge again soon. Last 15 makes 100:

86. Sign up for Green Power. OK, we did this awhile ago, before I gave myself this 100 action challenge. But let’s up our contribution. It’s really wonderful how alt energy projects are getting funded. And that’s green jobs as well as greener energy.

87. Organic cotton towels at the local chain store, with vegetable dyes, a new product line for Fred Meyer. I didn’t need more towels, but I bought two anyway. Just another vote in favor. And I like them a lot—nubby and the right thickness so they dry well.

88. Tweaking oven use. It’s been suggested to cook more than one thing at a time. Like a whole pumpkin along with baked potatoes, recently. A friend has frozen her excess baked potatoes. They defrosted a bit soggy when I did it, but worked for hashed browns. So the next ones I roasted, quartered, and kept them in the fridge for reheating. Using glass pans for a lower oven setting can save energy because they cook in the same amount of time. And I’ve successfully turned off the oven 10 minutes early and finished baking, but this feels fussy to me. When I’m done, I just open the oven and let it raise my 65 degree kitchen a notch.

89. Outlet sealer pads. Little white pads for under the perimeter walls outlet covers, fitting around the outlets perfectly. Done.

90. I got to borrow a thermal sensor camera, to look for cold air leaks in the house. It seems to have pinpoint accuracy and fun to use. Still, I think interpreting its findings may be a job for a pro, who can also do the work much more easily than we can.

91. Get an electric or battery-powered mower for the remaining lawn. That was in the Watershed pledge I took on some time ago. I thought I’d make the need for it moot and just weed-whack what’s left, but Mr. W bought an electric mower this year. Said it can mulch leaves. We’ll see. Great if it does, because Leaves R Us. So far, a little tricky to get the timing right for leaves to come down without also a lot of rain.

92. Another item pledged was to use re-refined motor oil in my car. I think that is happening. Will check next time I have the oil changed.

93. Reading by a window rather than turning on a light. It’s just from habit that I set my reading on the interior side of our dining table. It’s nice to go to the window side and pull a chair back to the window.

94. Metal litter box scoop. I had a nice one for years till it broke. My pet food store only offers the plastic kind, so I asked about this. “We used to have the metal ones, but not anymore.” It would have been easy to sigh and go along with this trend. I almost did. But I said no thanks, and bought a metal slotted spoon at the Goodwill store.

The spoon is a bit too small and doesn’t have the nice square edges (Miss kitty likes the sides and corners.) So I’m open to improvement.

95. Kitchen garbage liner. Hmm. My town is banning plastic grocery bags next year. No problem for shopping. But for the pull-out garbage bag rack these bags are the perfect size. Now what? For starters I’ve used paper garbage bags I also had stashed—not as messy as I’d thought, since messy stuff is now mostly going to the Food+ Toter. But paper bags seem like just a transitional solution. Maybe be less trash overall we can get by with fewer, thinner, smaller bags.

96. Fair trade—coffee, chocolate, sugar. I don’t think I’ve listed that one yet.

97. Keeping the refrigerator full, for less air exchange when you open the door. Not hard with two tubs of homemade pickles taking up real estate.

98. Ask the city council to consider incentives for homeowners who maintain tree canopy. Did that this week. If they can do it somewhere in Texas, they can do it here. And how about cisterns or permeable pavement? Builders have griped for years that they are the only ones being asked to change. Retrofits for water-savings should be next. Grey water systems, now that I think of it. I forgot in my letter to urge legalizing grey water systems. I talked with a builder last evening at Green Drinks, and his firm is already up to speed on it and just waiting for the city to reverse its ban.

99. Waste less food. Composting food scraps is good, and I’ve been excited to take it up a notch recently (No. 74 on this list). However, here’s a sobering factoid from the University of Michigan report assessing the U.S. food system (report No. CSS00-04, page 38)

If a mere 5% of the 96 billion pounds of unspoiled discarded food were recovered, this would be enough food to feed 4 million Americans every day.

This has prompted me to give a close look at whether I’m throwing away food that I could eat. Like those greens that come with the beets—I can cook them to go with lunch if I have other vegetables for supper. Leftovers we’re pretty good with, but I’m having a close look anyway.

100. The romance of old appliances (not). I wonder about my use of time. Every time I get down on my hands and knees with a sharp tweezer to pluck out bits stopping up the dishwasher’s spray wand. What a rotten design that the arm can’t be taken apart for cleaning.

As for the oven, if I am baking or roasting, I have to go back every 20 minutes and, get this, turn on the stovetop burner which prompts the cooling oven to re-light. The Garland repair man charged $100 to tell me this association is purely coincidental and my oven is working well enough. But I know what I know. And recipes were taking an extra half hour before I instituted this work-around. I just try to get my baking done in an hour or so because the oven also coughs and sputters in the second hour.

Why keep old appliances going? Well, I admit that if I were flush with cash I’d replace my fridge, dishwasher, and stove. But meanwhile I appreciate knowing that I’m getting the most from the “embodied” energy in these appliances. It’s surprising to learn how much energy goes into building new energy-efficient appliances. When you buy new you see the savings right away, but the planet doesn’t, not immediately. Fortunately, we don’t have to do calculus. I just let it keep me humble whenever I’m tempted to push for “the” green fix that involves buying something new. I guess that would include the new car I’ve wanted since the top of this 100 actions list. Hmm. I guess that’s right.

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