Monday, June 2, 2008


So, it has come to my attention this morning that my goals are hazy at best. Admirable, but hazy. To remedy that situation I have joined Riot 4 Austerity. Their goals are to document the successes and failures of individuals and families attempting to reduce their consumption to a mere 10% of what the average American consumes. In order to track my progress I will attempt to calculate out my baseline consumption, (what I consumed from June 1st 2007 to June 1st 2008) so I'll have something to compare it to next June. I'll be using the Riot calculator available on their site. They skew some of the numbers on consumer goods, letting you use a reduction on your numbers if you buy used or locally made, but most of the calculating is just straight numbers.
Fuel: I use about 25 gallons a week. That's 261% of the Average American. Eek. Good thing I'm moving at the end of this month. The only thing saving my budget is my nice little car getting 38 mpg.
Electricity I just can't calculate right now. Between my place and Dave's place, my roommates running computers constantly, my grow lights this spring for seedlings, food in both refrigerators at one point... I have no clue. I'm up on the CFL's and lights don't stay on for no reason... I'll just assume I run about average. And go from there.
Heating and cooking fuel I'm probably way over average, between Dave's house having a giant hole in the roof and the farmhouse leaking like a sieve I probably used my fair share. Neither house was kept balmy, but figuring out my portion of it would again be a nightmare.
Garbage I'm a little light on. I'm putting a high estimate of 20lbs per week in the calculator and it's telling me I'm at 63% of an Average American. Between the worm bin and the compost pile, all my organic trash gets eaten. I've been avoiding heavily packaged food for years now, and Dave and I recycle what we can and try to cook from scratch.
Water I think I'm a little light on too, I put in an estimate of 50 gallons per day. I take a 10-15 minute shower which is 20-30 gallons of water, add in 5 flushes a day at 3 gallons per... some light hand washing of dishes... I don't wash my car, or my cat. I don't water a lawn. I hand water my garden, so in the peak of summer, maybe another 30 gallons a week. Again, between me at Dave's house and the plants at the farmhouse, that's too many roomates and too many variables to figure out my share. I think I'm a little light of the average currently. :-) We'll go from there.
Food wise, I'm a bit heavy on the wet/processed/non-local goods still, but my bulk unprocessed is at the right level. And my local isn't too far off. If I can eat out of my garden this summer that should get really close to the goal levels.

I'm excited to see how far I get in a year. If I can get down to 10% on a few categories I'll be happy. If nothing else it should be an interesting experiment.

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