Thinking & Feeling

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Resolution - better late than never

Ok, have mulled this over and sort of deciding I am not doing the whole New Years Resolution thing this year - more out of apathy and no feeling of pressing need to really CHANGE anything, I have finally found something that I do want to do and which feels right.

So my word for 2008 is: CONSERVE

It's about being environmentally conscious, and less generally wasteful. It means reusing, recycling, not wasting so much, not being so greedy, and avoiding creating pollution wherever possible. Basically living greener and wiser and reducing carbon emission and our global footprint.

I do a lot of this already, but I am going to try to do it a bit more consciously and see if I can get the whole family to join in too.

Here are some simple and easy things we do and will continue and do more of:
- Buy less packaging to start with! For instance buy a large 1lt yogurt and decant into reusable containers as needed, instead of sets of 6 little ones. Buy a large ,2 or 4l bottle of juice, packet of crisps, apples, raisins etc instead of the individual lunch box portions. Get some nice reusable boxes / bottles to pack them in if you need them packed and transportable.
- Buy a whole fruit/veg like watermelon, pumpkin, potatoes instead of pre-processed, chopped up stuff, which comes in packaging inside packaging. The rawer and closer to original state the item is the less waste it has been involved with, the fresher it with be and the more nutritious, and probably cheaper too!
- Buy locally produced and IN SEASON foods, so it hasn't had to be imported from across the world and/or kept in cold storage for 6 months.
- Reuse shopping bags - lots, until they wear out. Don;t buy new ones every time you shop. If you buy one item refuse the bag. Don;t take a bag you know you'll be throwing away in 10 minutes!
- Turn off lights, and use only neon bulbs (I hear in a few years incandescents won't even be made any more any way.)
- WALK or cycle instead of driving whenever you can. Instead of driving to gym cycle there!
- When you do drive, drive conservatively. I have a fuel economy reading on my car and it's amazing the difference if you drive with your foot a bit less hard on the accelerator. I can easily get an extra 50-75km per tank if I drive 'softly'.
- Make compose out of all your organic waste - vegetable peelings, tea bags etc.
- Don't flush the toilet for every single wee. It's really not necessary and wastes a lot of water.
- Unplug any chargers etc not being used, and turn things off instead of leaving on standby.
- Reduce the temperature of your geyser. 75 degs Celsius is far too hot, 50 degs is plenty and still hotter than you could bath in without adding cold water. Keeping it so high just wastes electricity.
- Get a geyser blanket, so the geyser heat is kept inside, will save a lot of electricity.
- Insulate your ceiling - makes your home easier to heat and cool and keeps heat and coolness in as needed.
- Reduce the number of hours your pool cleaner runs for - depending on the size of the pool 6 - 8 hours a day is plenty - 12- 15 hours is really not necessary.
- Spend less time cooking. Eat simply (ok I just out that in to justify my cooking laziness!)
- Run your washing machine on a cold cycle. It is not necessary to stew clothes in hot water. The washing powder cleans the clothes and they stay in shape and keep their colour longer with cold washing.
- Work from home when you can - reducing driving, as well as the need for additional office space with air conditioning etc etc
- Buy less stuff! You don't need a 4th gaming console, DVD player or PC or another plastic toy. Simplify your life. And enjoy it without lusting after additional stuff all the time. Balls, balls, racquets and bikes provide heaps of good clean and healthy fun. Use them.

Why don't you try to conserve a little more this year too?


Here is some more info and tips with numbers and supporting evidence, so you don;t have to just believe me - it is American, so make allowances for that:


Most emissions from homes are from the fossil fuels burned to generate electricity and heat. By using energy more efficiently at home, you can reduce your emissions and lower your energy bills by more than 30%.

In addition, since agriculture is responsible for about a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, you can reduce your emissions simply by watching what you eat.

Here’s how:

Replace a regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (cfl)
CFLs use 60% less energy than a regular bulb. This simple switch will save about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. If every family in the U.S. made the switch, we’d reduce carbon dioxide by more than 90 billion pounds! You can purchase CFLs online from the Energy Federation.

Move your thermostat down 2° in winter and up 2° in summer
Almost half of the energy we use in our homes goes to heating and cooling. You could save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple adjustment. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has more tips for saving energy on heating and cooling.

Clean or replace filters on your furnace and air conditioner
Cleaning a dirty air filter can save 350 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

Install a programmable thermostat
Programmable thermostats will automatically lower the heat or air conditioning at night and raise them again in the morning. They can save you $100 a year on your energy bill.

Choose energy efficient appliances when making new purchases
Look for the Energy Star label on new appliances to choose the most efficient models. If each household in the U.S. replaced its existing appliances with the most efficient models available, we’d eliminate 175 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year!

Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket

You’ll save 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple action. You can save another 550 pounds per year by setting the thermostat no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Use less hot water
It takes a lot of energy to heat water. You can use less hot water by installing a low flow showerhead (350 pounds of carbon dioxide saved per year) and washing your clothes in cold or warm water (500 pounds saved per year) instead of hot.

Use a clothesline instead of a dryer whenever possible
You can save 700 pounds of carbon dioxide when you air dry your clothes for 6 months out of the year.

Turn off electronic devices you’re not using
Simply turning off your television, DVD player, stereo, and computer when you’re not using them will save you thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

Unplug electronics from the wall when you’re not using them

Even when turned off, things like hairdryers, cell phone chargers and televisions use energy. In fact, the energy used to keep display clocks lit and memory chips working accounts for 5 percent of total domestic energy consumption and spews 18 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year!

Only run your dishwasher when there’s a full load and use the energy-saving setting

You can save 100 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.

Insulate and weatherize your home
Properly insulating your walls and ceilings can save 25% of your home heating bill and 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Caulking and weather-stripping can save another 1,700 pounds per year. The Consumer Federation of America has more information on how to better insulate your home.

Be sure you’re recycling at home
You can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide a year by recycling half of the waste your household generates. Earth 911 can help you find recycling resources in your area.

Buy recycled paper products

It takes less 70 to 90% less energy to make recycled paper and it prevents the loss of forests worldwide.

Plant a tree
A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. Shade provided by trees can also reduce your air conditioning bill by 10 to 15%. The Arbor Day Foundation has information on planting and provides trees you can plant with membership.

Get a home energy audit
Many utilities offer free home energy audits to find where your home is poorly insulated or energy inefficient. You can save up to 30% off your energy bill and 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Energy Star can help you find an energy specialist.

Switch to green power
In many areas, you can switch to energy generated by clean, renewable sources such as wind and solar. The Green Power Network is a good place to start to figure out what’s available in your area.

Buy locally grown and produced foods
The average meal in the United States travels 1,200 miles from the farm to your plate. Buying locally will save fuel and keep money in your community.

Buy fresh foods instead of frozen
Frozen food uses 10 times more energy to produce.

Seek out and support local farmers markets
They reduce the amount of energy required to grow and transport the food to you by one fifth. You can find a farmer’s market in your area at the USDA website.

Buy organic foods as much as possible
Organic soils capture and store carbon dioxide at much higher levels than soils from conventional farms. If we grew all of our corn and soybeans organically, we’d remove 580 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere!

Avoid heavily packaged products
You can save 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide if you cut down your garbage by 10%.

Eat less meat
Methane is the second most significant greenhouse gas and cows are one of the greatest methane emitters. Their grassy diet and multiple stomachs cause them to produce methane, which they exhale with every breath.


Almost one third of the carbon dioxide produced in the United States comes from our cars, trucks and airplanes. Here are some simple, practical things you can do to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide you produce while on the move.

Reduce the number of miles you drive by walking, biking, carpooling or taking mass transit wherever possible
Avoiding just 10 miles of driving every week would eliminate about 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year! Click here to find transit options in your area.

Start a carpool with your coworkers or classmates
Sharing a ride with someone just 2 days a week will reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by 1,590 pounds a year. runs a free national service connecting commuters and travelers.

Keep your car tuned up
Regular maintenance helps improve fuel efficiency and reduces emissions. When just 1% of car owners properly maintain their cars, nearly a billion pounds of carbon dioxide are kept out of the atmosphere.

Check your tires weekly to make sure they’re properly inflated
Proper inflation can improve gas mileage by more than 3%. Since every gallon of gasoline saved keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, every increase in fuel efficiency makes a difference!

When it is time for a new car, choose a more fuel efficient vehicle
You can save 3,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year if your new car gets only 3 miles per gallon more than your current one. You can get up to 60 miles per gallon with a hybrid! You can find information on fuel efficiency here and here.

Try car sharing
Need a car but don’t want to buy one? Community car sharing organizations provide access to a car and your membership fee covers gas, maintenance and insurance. Many companies – such as Flexcar -- offer low emission or hybrid cars too! Also, see ZipCar.

Try telecommuting from home
Telecommuting can help you drastically reduce the number of miles you drive every week. For more information, check out the Telework Coalition.

Fly less
Air travel produces large amounts of emissions so reducing how much you fly by even one or two trips a year can reduce your emissions significantly. You can also offset your air travel by investing in renewable energy projects.


  1. Turning green Mel8 January 2008 at 17:26

    I am shocking at being green but we visited the aquarium yesterday so now I am inspired. Thanks for the tips, won't do all just yet but I will make a start.

  2. Love your word for 2008 Jane :)