Tuesday, September 9, 2008

and another repost

Entry for March 21, 2008
Lately we have been trying to find other ways to live simpler and conserve energy and our resources. I started doing some figuring on water usage and how to conserve it. While we have a well and don't technically "pay" for water, we still do. There is electricity used to run the well pump itself, as well as to run the exaust fan for the hot water heater and the gas used to heat it. I measured the water used by each device in the house and calculated the usage, and I was shocked. The washing machine uses 25 gallons just for a small load on short cycle, and upwards of 45 on a large load. The bathtub runs 1 gallon every 15 seconds, or 4 gallons per minute. The kitchen sink runs 1 gallon every 30 seconds or 2 gallons per minute. I didnt measure our toilets, but they can use 2.5-5 gallons per flush depending on age, and ours are fairly old so I figured on the larger amount. And the smaller bath sinks run at 2.5 gallons per minute. So with these figures, I can say that in 1 day, figuring 4 people at home, that 3 showers @ 15 minutes, 15 minutes doing dishes, 2 large loads of laundry, 10 toilet flushes, and six 5 minute tooth brushing/shaving, totals 380 gallons of water used in ONE day. Multiply that by 7 and its 2660 gallons of water in one week. This figure just absolutely amazed me. If we were to be back in time, or out somewhere that we had to hand pump our own water, this would be cut drastically. Not only is all this a severe waste of energy, but its also more added strain on a 40+ year old septic system. We looked into composting toilets to conserve water, but they are around $1000 so that will have to wait. We picked up a second plastic sink tub for rinse water doing dishes. S0 the soap/wash water is 2 gallons, and the rinse is 2 gallons as well. With one $3 investment, we managed to conserve 20 gallons of water each timesince the faucet isnt continously running water down the drain. Thats roughly 140 gallons per week. I would love to find a way to save all "gray water" (sink, tub, washer) into a tank for garden usage, but techincally here it would be illegal.
We're looking into other ways of conservation as well. One step at a time we are saving money, living simpler, not buying/using disposable appliances, and my favorite, loosening the grip of the power companies by just a tiny bit. Sometime possibly this weekend, I am going to pick up 2 of the old fashioned wind up alarm clocks and unplug the 2 digital ones we have now, eliminating one more device in the house that is on/plugged in 24/7. Last weekend we cleaned out all the kitchen cupboards and the pantry. We decided to only keep any kitchen appliances that we absolutely needed. So off to goodwill went the noisy bread machine (which was used once), the pasta maker, the big mixer, the small handheld mixer, the electric can opener, and one of the 3 dehydrators. (we use the other 2 quite a bit, but I plan to make a solar powered one this year) I have a big percolator that I use for camping, and when the coffee pot finally dies, I'll use it and not replace the automatic one. Appliances like some of these seem to make life easier, but they really don't.
Take the bread machine for example. We eat homemade bread every day of the week and have used it once. Lisa sets out time on the weekend to make dough. She bakes 2 loaves, and puts 4-6 more (unbaked) in the freezer. As we use bread, more dough is thawed and baked. Hand kneeding dough doesnt really take that long. With the machine, you have to add all the ingredients, plug it in, let it mix, then kneed and bake it, and in the time it takes to dissasemble this thing and wash it,dry it,and put it away, she can have another big bowl of dough kneeded by hand.
Making bread is a simple pleasure that she enjoys, and many appliances and gadgets have taken this away. Not only is it simple and pleasurable, but in a way it is exercise. Kneeding dough really gives the hands and wrists a workout. It's the same thing with something as simple as opening a can. Every household in the world seems to have an electric can opener. Are we so lazy and impatient that we have to have a machine open a can in 3 seconds that we could have done by hand in 6? Ten cranks of the wrist on the $5 hand model,(we've had the same one for 5 years) and taaadaaa, its open, but its just easier to hear the WHRRRRRRR of the electric model that cost $20 and will be worn out in a year and need replacing. Giving more money to big-business, and more un-recyclable trash to the landfill. We are living simpler by tossing all these gadgets, and losing our dependancy on them little by little. We kept a bare minimum of kitchen appliances; the blender/juicer, a small handheld mixer, 2 crockpots, a 2 slice toaster, coffee pot, and the dehydrators. Thats it. And when everything for the garden is done and I can spend some time in the garage, the same will be done with my tools.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you're looking for a simple composting toilet design, (or more than a few simple ones) check out the Humanure Handbook. You could build one in a few hours, seeing how handy you are!!

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