R4A – 90% reduction: The reckoning (action pt 2)
This is all common sense stuff but here’s the rest -
Petrol – My husband car pools to work with 3 other people. It is a 65km round trip, most week days. We walk to almost all local (in our town) stuff and if I do drive to work (1 or 2 days a week which is about 15kms away) I do our grocery shopping on the way. We would drive to Sydney ( 100kms away) about once a month and usually do errands along the way. I prefer to catch the train to Sydney but it’s not always practical. Along the way, when I was studying, I switched to correspondence/distance education to cut down on both fuel use and time spent travelling.
The only thing to add is that out car is small 4-cylinder hatchback that uses between 4-5 litres per 100kms (same as a Prius though not as comfortable) on the open road. The car is ten years old. We use the highest octane petrol available because it is more efficient, gives you more kms for your money and prolongs the life of your car. This is all better for the atmosphere too. I should add that my husband does the maintenance services for the vehicle himself. He changes the oil every 5,000kms not 10, 000 kms because more frequent oil changes also prolong the life of your car engine and promote better fuel efficiency. We take the oil for recycling to our mechanic. Since we are travelling much less now than when we worked (and commuted) in Sydney, the need to change the oil etc. has also been reduced.
Gas – Heating is our major area of reduction problem as our efforts still do not make the deep cuts necessary. To minimise gas heating use, we have insulated our wooden floor with concertina foil batts (this has reduced temperature loss by 20%) and I am in the process of making calico ( part of my stash) window quilts to put up over the blinds at night to minimise heat loss. We have alot of glass for a small house; 80 sqm including the front deck/verandah and according to our postman live in one of the two coldest streets in our town.
With regard to the central heating, it is used for about 2-3 hours per day and turned on/off manually and only the rooms in use have their radiators turned on. We don’t heat the house at night and really have no need to – it’s not that cold. Blankets and hot water bottles are very useful.
For cold feet, when you feel particularly chilled to the bone, a ginger foot bath will warm you up. Place either a few drops of oil or some grated ginger into a small tub filled with warm/hot water. Soak away. Take care, if the water is too hot, the combination of the warming ginger and hot water will be unbearable.
Food – Accept seasonality but also preserve foods when they are plentiful, so that they get you through the lean period. For example, between August and October, is a lean time for local fruits; apples/pears have ended and summer fruits haven’t started…..so to avoid buying fruit from elsewhere, we will be preserving more fruit this year. Bottling and drying are my only options as I don’t have much freezer space.
We eat a diet based primarily on vegetables, grains, fruits, eggs/dairy with small amounts of red meat and chicken that is local and pasture raised. We grow some food here (herbs, potatoes, garlic and root vegetables do well)- summer being much better than winter. My sister’s garden is nearby – I’ve got some sweat equity there and my mother’s Sydney garden provide a lot of seasonal, perishable vegetables like greens, beans etc. are covered. The productivity of these gardens is increasing. My mother’s garden also provides citrus, figs and papaya. We are very, very fortunate that her garden is already highly productive and that she is generous!
Other sources for local food includes our food co-op (for bulk items and spices too) and local markets. I will buy locally grown produce over organic that has travelled, milk being the only exception. We cut things like maple syrup from our diet because local honey is just as good (better?)- different but just as good. Like the TV, I don’t miss it.
Finding local sources for food, has at times been frustrating especially on the dairy front. Discovering the growers, the networks and so on, intially takes time but has been a great thing to do and it’s been surprising how much food is in your local area. The other thing you discover is that there used to more food production in most areas but land speculation and development has killed it off.