I have done some soul searching and contemplation, trying to work out what I genuinely ‘need’ and what is just for ease, comfort or convenience, to see if I can make any improvements in my life. TV, microwave and other gadgets missing from this list are mostly not there because I don’t have them. Below are the things I’ve identified as luxuries, that I will try and handle better, cut back on where I can, etc. Some are going to take longer to fix.
The laptop. In terms of my ongoing energy use, this has to be the biggy. It’s on 12 hours most days, sometimes more. In my defence, I use it for work, I don’t commute, and at the moment it’s my only way of keeping in contact with my bloke. Currently my emotional wellbeing, and his, depends heavily on my using it, but once he’s here, I’ll cut back and only use it for work, and he will be able to cut back too.
Rubber gloves. Used for washing up, they save my skin from discomfort, but I cannot claim they are a necessity and they cannot be recycled. However, Tom says he can turn them into things, so I will save them once they get holes, and that’s an improvement I can make.
Gas heater. Last winter I used this a lot. It is easier than lighting the wood stove, and I did not have enough dry wood to get through. I’m working now on cutting and stashing wood in the hopes of doing better.
Cars. I don’t have a car, I blag lifts sometimes. However, I cause car use in others, who come to visit me. I’m not sure to what extent I can cut back on this without getting myself more socially isolated than I already am. One to think about.
Books, CDs, DVDs. In terms of stuff I own, these represent a lot of space occupied. They are luxuries. People buy me them as presents. I buy them for other people as presents. I perhaps need to consider how many I am keeping.
Radio. Another luxury use of energy. It is my primary source of news and current affairs, and I tend to put it on when working in the kitchen. I have cut back on using it, and am now unplugging it when not in use as otherwise the plug warms up, so is using electricity.
Washing machine. In my teens I handwashed all of my own clothes, out of necessity. Using the washing machine is pure ease and convenience for me, it would be hard work keeping up with the boy otherwise. I dry outside, I use green cleaning products, full loads and an efficient machine… can I do better on this one? Wear clothes a little longer perhaps to reduce the number of washes. I’m not sure I can face going back to handwashing.
Mobile phone. Usually turned off, carried in case of emergency. Not essential, but I’ve been glad of it during scrapes. I am dedicated to using it no more than for emergencies, and not replacing it any time soon.
Vacuum cleaner. It would be better to brush, but it’s hard to get the dust under control that way and there are people in the house with allergies – me included. Could solve this with floorboards and rugs, but do not yet have enough insulation to make this viable. Something to work on for the longer term there.
Iron. I own a fair amount of cotton and some linen, it has to be ironed, really. Cutting back on it where I can, being more careful about how I hang things to dry, and ironing in bulk for greater efficiency… I suspect I could improve on this issue.
Cat. According to New Scientist, having a pet can be as damaging as running a four by four vehicle. The cat doesn’t hunt, he eats dry food – no food waste, little packaging to recycle, but there is the issue of the litter tray. Room to improve, without giving up the kitty. He’s given me a lot of much needed comfort and companionship through the winter.
Tranquillity. For the sake of my own peace, ease and comfort I do not confront people around me over their lifestyle choices, what they waste, how they live and the ways in which I know their choices impact. Many of my friends are green folk too, and doing their best to make responsible choices, but there are plenty of people around me who could be doing one hell of a lot better. I don’t say anything. That’s one I’m going to have to think about very carefully indeed.