Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Days 26-28 Dark mornings, Organic fair-trade coffee, No coffee pot

Day 26 - No light mornings

Now that our Septic system has passed inspection, I went down to Clay County offices to ask them what I needed next in order to get building permits. They said we needed well permits, passed. I told them I was planning on using rain catchment devices instead, and they said "No
building permits without a well inspected and passed." So much for a completely "green" home. He also gave me the wink, as if after we passed all inspections we could just not use the well. That said, I talked to a few drillers, and came up with a fairly good deal on a well, to get us moving along on our house. I signed some papers, and he said he'd call when it was done. I'm quietly hoping he doesn't call until Friday, when Trudi gets paid, as finances are a bit tight. We'll see.

As for the challenge, we've decided to leave the lights off for our morning routines. It's actually quite nice.

Day 27 - Buy only Organic, Fair-Trade certified, shade grown coffee

I had given up coffee for a while, for no real reason, but to do it. But with all of the books I've been reading about couples homesteading, talking about morning cups of coffee, I've been really wanted to wake up to a fresh cup. Money makes it hard not to buy the crap chemical laden coffee that was grown by poor farmers that can't afford to put their own food on the table. So I just bought less coffee.
Day 28 - No coffee maker

From now on, I'll only use a french press for my coffee. Unplug.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 23-25 No antiperspirant, no bottled water, and locally baked bread

Day 23 - Use only natural deodorants

My whole life I've been using antiperspirants with aluminum to stop the sweat. My recent research has pointed me to the error of my ways. These aluminums, which accumulate in the brain have lead to Alzheimer's, and unnatural clogging of pores. Also ingredients such as fragrance (loosely labeled), BHT, propylene glycol, and peg-8 distearate are listed as hazards for gastrointestinal and liver function causing risk to the immune and nervous system. Many antiperspirants are still tested on animals and contain animal byproducts as well. This one here I've purchased is mainly made up of baking soda and corn starch. I will say I've been outdoors all weekend and don't smell any worse than I did before the switch, nor am I sweating any more than I did.

Here's a good recipe for natural deodorant:
1/2 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup cornstarch, and a couple drops of essential oil of your choosing (sandalwood is nice for guys, lavender for women)
Shake it up in a glass jar, sprinkle a bit on a damp rag and pat on. Done.

Day 24 - No more bottled water

Municipal water is regulated by our government, bottled is not. So the myth that it's better for you is hogwash. As for the true cost of a bottle of water, I'm going to let Annie Leonard set this one straight. I've learned long ago when someone knows more than me, let them speak:

Day 25 - Only purchase locally baked bread

Packaged bread is one of those massed produced items in the grocery store, that gets shipped from place to place in plastic packaging, all over the country, when we usually have a better product right in front of our noses. Also the locally baked bread doesn't have all the chemicals that packaged bread does to "keep it fresh". Winn Dixie, Whole Foods, Publix, they all have their own bakeries, just bring your own little muslin sack and grab some fresh bread. They'll even slice it for you if you ask.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 22 - Turn off cable

So Thursday we turned off our cable. But how's that going to save the environment? Well, we won't be watching TV for X number of hours per day now. It also gives us more together time, reading time, and outdoors time. Less time in the house means less time with electricity running for lights and fans. The problem right now though, is that they're cutting off our internet too. We're trying to find a way to receive internet, and AT&T is no longer offering their $12.95-$19.95 internet that we used to have without a phone line. Hmm? I'll keep you updated.
As for the septic system on our green home experiment, it passed inspection this morning.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day 20-21 No air conditioning! and bio-bags

Day 20 - No more Air Conditioning

Three weeks into it, and we finally turned of the AC yesterday.. for good. For those of you reading this in New York or wherever, that's a big deal, especially in a week where our heat index has been well over 100 degrees every day. With the help of an oscillating fan that runs on 30 watts, not to shabby. I've been helped along by the fact that I've been working outside in this weather with no shade all week trying to get my septic system done. So when I get home, indoors (shade), it feels cool(ish) anyway.

Day 21 - Bio bags

En route to my "green" house, I waited all day outside for the Clay County inspector to show up and inspect my septic system. He said he'd be there first thing. Well at about 10:30 the guys that hauled their big equipment out there to finish the plowing after it passes inspection called the inspector. "Oh he's in a meeting until 1:30, he'll have to come over then." So the poor guys do a little flattening, and one gets sent home for the day. At about 2:30 still no word. So the remaining excavator calls and they tell him, they'll try and get out there tomorrow. So, a days worth of "work" and nothing to show for it. I'll keep you updated.
As for the daily challenge, it's garbage day (the now every-other week garbage day), and I've switched to Bio-bags. They're made from GMO-free corn crops, with no polyethylene and they're compost certified to compost rapidly and safely among many other positive things.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day 17-19 No elevators, front-load washers, recycle batts

Day 17 - No elevators

On Saturday I went to the downtown library to pick up the books "Better Off", "Plenty", and "Not Buying It", to further my Green research, and almost by habit wandered over to the elevator to take the trip to the third floor where the non-fiction section sits. I thought, "Hey", this would a wonderful change for th
e better. No more elevators. This may not seem
a big deal, but my new office has an elevator directly outside of it to take me to the floor where I will park my car every day. I will walk around to the stairs, as I did to the 3rd floor at the library on Saturday.
Day 18 - Use only front load washers

Yeah they cost a bit more, but they use half the energy, and 1/3 t
he amount of water as the top-load type. I never thought about it, because in our house we have a front-load washer, but now that we are using the laundromat we have to wait until the front-loaders are unoccupied. They have 16 top-loaders and only 4 front-loaders. BUT, we'll wait, as we did yesterday.
Day 19 - Recycle batteries

We are only buying recyclable batteries, so don't get the wrong idea. But, when we moved into our apartment there was a container of dead batteries sitting on the fridge. I didn't know what to do with them until I started researching ways to recycle them. Solution: Batteries Plus...? Not so fast. I went to Batteries Plus and handed them my bucket and, they handed it right back. "We don't take those, you can just throw them in the trash, unless you have rechargeable or lithiums." I gave them my lithiums and explained that I don't really care that it's legal to throw them in the trash, I'd still rather not send them to a landfill. They worked with me to find the Household Hazardous Waste Facility on Commonwealth Ave. So, after I checked out the progress on my septic tank installation, I split up to Commonwealth and dropped the batteries off. They asked for my license to prove my residence and took them and sorted them with other Alkaline batteries.

As for the septic progress, I paid extra for them to use the dirt from the property instead of trucking dirt in from out of town. Weird how that works.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Days 14-16 NO 'POO, no oven, no trash

Day 14 - No Trash - ok.... less trash
We decided to reduce our trash from (3) 13 gallon bags every 2 weeks to one every two weeks. That's huge for our landfills. And all it takes is shopping smarter. We cut out veggies from cans or freezer, to only loose veggies in the produce section. We've cut down on all packaged products, especially plastic packaged products. Slow down that petroleum produced bottling. It would be nice to reduce the trash to none, but that's going to have to come with time. This week we only have about a quarter of the 13 gallon bag full.

Day 15 - No oven, big burners
We decided to do without the energy drain known as the oven for this year, along with the large burners on our stove. Not only do they eat kilowatts, they warm the apartment beyond torture temps.

Day 16 - No 'Poo
Ok what? I don't mean I'm going to hold my #2 for the year. It's short for no shampoo. The first reason to go "no 'poo" is for your own health, the toxic chemicals just aren't good for you. And if their not good for you, they're certainly not good to drain into our sewage system. Then there's the packaging, of little plastic bottles that we have to keep throwing into our trash.
"But isn't my hair going to feel all greasy?" Nope. After a few days your body gets used to the lack of washing and regulates the oils quite well. On Wednesday this week, I had a video shoot outside in Hanna park in 90+ degree 100% humidity weather, and came home that night drenched in sweat. Stinky. On Thursday morning I had to teach a workshop at 8:30 AM, and had to smell good. I grabbed a 1/2 tbs of baking soda, massaged that into my wet scalp, rinsed and followed with watered down apple cider vinegar, and "Wallaah!"
Here's the deal - 1/2 tbs baking soda in a 1/2 cup of water, dump on head, massage and rinse
1/2 tbs apple cider vinegar in a 1/2 cup water, dump on head, massage and rinse.
And do this only when you need to. It healthier to wait a few days between. I teach, so I can't walk around full classroom like 'Pigpen' from Peanuts. Also, by combing your hair out daily, you spread the oils evenly through your hair. I'll take a photo of my hair in a few days to show you how much better my hair looks.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 13 - inflate tires

Yesterday I took out my tire pump and decided to increase gas milage by up to 4% in our vehicles by inflating the tires to their max psi. I hooked up the pump to our Smart car and and turned it on. At some point from the last time I used it until yesterday it broke, and I didn't know. So about 1 minute after I hooked it up and turned it on, we had a flat tire on the Smart car. Of course I decide to do this about 10 minutes before Trudi had to go to work. Well, I scrambled and fixed the flat and got all tires up to their max psi all in time for her to get to work only a couple minutes late. I then proceeded to increase the tire pressure in the Golf. I will continue to do this at least once a month for the next year, and hopefully for ever. There is free air at the Hess on Phillips Hwy and Emerson for those that want to follow suit. Make sure you have your own tire pressure gauge though. They cost anywhere from 99 cents to $5 at an auto part store.
Day one of the "No 'Poo" experiment went well. I will soon implement and explain.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 12 - recycle... better... and more

"What? You don't recycle?" No we are recyclers. Here's the deal. Jacksonville no longer gives out recycle containers to residents. So you've got to put a brown bag by the curb for them to pick it up. Good luck with that in a dog, cat, and raccoon neighborhood. Todays challenge was to find a blue recycle container for our recyclables (I know we used to have one), so we would recycle more. We also did research on what types of products to buy over others, based on what's recyclable here in Jacksonville. I also visited Grassroots, Native Sun, and Whole foods, to see if any of them carried bulk soaps, shampoos, etc., to eliminate packaging. I've saved up glass containers that would be great to fill up with liquid soaps, etc. and not have to buy in plastic containers. Poo on all of them, none. We need a sustainable co-op!
Back to the recycle bin. I had to go to my land in Middleburg yesterday to meet with a septic system installer. I told him I didn't really want a septic system. I'd rather use a composting toilet and reuse the rest of the water we use as greywater to water the eventual garden. He said, "Man that sounds great. I hear ya.... But they won't let you do it here". He recommended the most eco-friendly of the bunch, and told me of a few ways to work around it, after it's been inspected and approved. Great. Then he told me he had to bring in 16 trucks of dirt to build the mound for the system. At this point, I explained the whole idea of why I wanted to reuse my greywater. It was to conserve water, and in turn save a dose of the environment. Having 16 trucks transporting from dirt to here is not good. Plus it's $175 a truckload. I asked him "what's wrong with the dirt under our feet? Can't you just dig it and place it?" Well this brought up his "excavation business". He pointed from the front of the property to about 40 feet back from there and said, "I can get a couple truckloads from this, but it'll cost $1000 and we'll still need the rest brought in". Oh my. This is where we left off, with him going to get a permit for the work. I was left there for my brain to stew on how I'm going to come up with the funds so he doesn't have to truck in loads of dirt. Pissed as I was I went into my teardrop camper I built to pull out a shovel and "shazam" there was our old recycling container from a past address. Recycle. Now.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 11 - lower hot water heater

Yesterday Trudi and I worked hard on figuring out how and what we are going to do for this challenge for weeks, even months to come. We've started a few things that will leak their ways into our future. For yesterday though, I took the cover off the hot water heater and turned it down to the minimum 90 degrees. It's Florida and it's hot, so this isn't so much a sacrifice as it's just plain common sense. And it will save a load of kilowatts over the length of this challenge.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day 10 - Less toilet water

Yesterday was one of those Saturdays I love. Wake up, play some softball, do a whole bunch of green-living research at the library. I then started typing up a list of possible future changes (I'm up to over 200). Afterward I attended the Jacksonville 48 hour film project awards ceremony. The show was well done for the most part, just quite pricy for the entry fee. So, all of that was fun, but when I got home at nearly 11pm, I still didn't have a daily green change implemented. Since I had forgotten about placing bricks in the toilet tank to reduce the amount of water used per flush (for #2. No flushing for #1), I was waiting until I had a gallon water jug to fill the empty space inside my tank. Well, got it, and here goes. I am now not only saving 3.4 gallons of water per flush by not flushing pee, but my #2 is now only flushing 2.4 gallons of water, saving another gallon per. Not as good as a composting toilet (which will be coming), but a sure improvement.
I'll try to throw more photos up too, they make life a whole lot more interesting.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 9 - Wash clothes in cold water

I've always been a hot wash type. The last three days are a good example of why. On Thursday I shot a video outdoors in dirt and sand in the 100 degree humid weather and today I had a softball game in 95 degree weather. I came home both days clothes filthy and drenched in sweat. My father had always washed our clothes in HOT water to get out the grime, and when I left the nest I continued. Well, yesterday I went to the laundromat (our washer and dryer are in the house I built that the city won't let us live in because it doesn't meet the minimum square foot requirements. But that's for another day) and washed 4 loads of dirty laundry in cold water to save on the gas to heat the water. Success, no difference, clean clothes. Get on this people. And yes I know, I should have been doing this for years.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Day 8 - Natural bath soap

There was a point where we were making and using only natural soaps. I don't really remember the reasons we stopped, but it's time we went back to buying and using natural soaps for our showers. So, now it's back to 1.No artificial ingredients, 2.No sodium lauryl sulfate, 3.No sodium laureth sulfate, 4.cruelty-free, 5.No artificial fragrances or colors, and 6.Biodegradable soap. Just drive on down to Native Sun or Grassroots and pick some up. Also Whole Foods (who also sell local produce) has an ultra-affordable natural 365 vegetable glycerin soap. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is no good, just do a search on it's flaws. That should give you enough reasons not to use it. Who needs intense foam, really? These natural fragrances are nice too, and not just for women. Sandalwood is nice for a good "man" smell.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 7 - No wrapping paper, recycled or not.

I am trying to make this relevant to my daily life as much as possible. Yesterday was our 3rd anniversary, and with that I got Trudi a gift. It was a repurposed gemstone made into a necklace by a "green" company. (I am going to get sick of saying "green" by the way) Afterwards I was in a grocery store picking up some organic pure cane sugar and I passed by the greeting card section and noticed some nice recycled wrapping paper. I thought "this would be perfect for A Greener Boese". As I bent down to pick it up I thought "no, this had to be manufactured, shipped, stocked, etc., and what would happen to it after we used it?... This would be only be 90% as bad as using regular wrapping paper." Happy about my brains fast response time, I scooted from the store with my sugar and the promise of eliminating wrapping paper from my life for the remainder of this challenge. Trudi would get the necklace sans wrapping paper. The delightful aspect of finding things to "green" our lives every day, is that I can save some of the ideas of future changes for days when my brain will otherwise be occupied. I am sure there will be days when I ask for suggestions, but as for now I can fill a few months with ideas jotted down (such as a future of "No 'Poo" - more to come later).

By the way, it's hard to not accidentally flush the toilet after peeing. I had to tape a guard above the flush handle so I would not instinctively flush after every trip to the toilet.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Week 1 It begins

July 1 - Unplug electronics "Vampire loss"
We decided to put all of our electronics, TV, DVD, computer, etc. all on power strips. At night and while we're not at home, we turn of the power strips. This saves the ongoing electricity drain from the "stand by" power which accounts for 15% of electric usage. Simple. Easy.

Day 2 - Air conditioning
We live in Florida. Getting rid of AC all together will come on one of these posts some day, but for now, we turn off AC approximately 22 hours a day, including at night and anytime we are not home. That seems easy enough. And it was until we woke up the first morning in pools of sweat. Did I mention we're in Florida. Oh well. After a few night of this, we've gotten used to it, and the increased ceiling fan speed helps. As for turning it on while we are home, we only turn it on for a few minutes when we get home, while we're cooking, and 30 minutes before we go to bed.

Day 3 - Eat only at locally owned restaurants
So my friend Maury came to town, and when thinking of things to do we decided to go out to eat. Trudi and I go out to eat maybe once a month, and this was a special occasion. Should we go to Macaroni Grill, Cheesecake factory, where? We chose Burrito Gallery, and we actually ate there both days he was in town. So what's the big deal? The main reason, it supports the local economy, and as an ex-restaurant owner I take great pride in dining local. They also tend to get their ingredients locally, they don't have corporate headquarters sending mass amounts of food from factories across the country. And... You get the idea. The data's out there on the web for those who want to know more. Boy am I going to miss Big Macs.

Day 4 - Use the same glass all day
This seems small but it saves from the water and soap that go into cleaning a new glass every time we want something to drink.

Day 5 - Yellow Mellow
If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down. As of now, Trudi and I are renting an apartment. We have no control over the toilet. It uses 3.4 gallons of water for every flush. That's a lot of drinking water wasted. We no longer flush for pee, only for number 2. This is saving us over 20 gallons of water a day. Woah! And as long as you're drinking plenty of liquids, it doesn't stink. Promise.

Day 6 - Buy only 100% recycled non-chlorine bleached toilet paper
Nuff said.

Initial Thoughts

This is going to be hard. I'm ok with that. I also know that by the two us greening our life everyday it's not going to make the world a better place overnight. The hope here is that it inspires others to follow our lead. If everyone that read this takes a few of our changes and implements them into their lives we can hopefully start something great. Please note that I am also not an English scholar, bad grammar and typos are a guarantee. (BTW the computer corrected my spelling of the word guarantee)
One of the biggest hurdles for us is that we already live "green" compared to most people we know. For one, I am vegan, so I can't exactly stop eating meat as one of our daily improvements. My dogs already eat an organically grown vegetarian diet. Trudi and I both drive fuel efficient cars, etc. These are only changes that we don't currently live by.
Some of the changes will seem simple and you'll think, "That's not really a big deal", and some will hopefully open our eyes. Without further ado....