A record of my efforts to live a more sustainable life.

How to Save Electricity

Depending on where you live and the source of your electricity, decreasing your electricity usage can be a major way to decrease your impact on the environment. This is especially true if you live somewhere where coal is still used to power your home. But even here in Manitoba where we use the relatively clean hydroelectric power, more electricity used means more dams eventually being built, which means destruction of habitat. So unless you're living totally off the grid with a roof full of solar panels, you could definitely do some good by cutting down on the electricity. So in today's post I'll talk about two really easy ways to cut down on your electricity usage.

Probably one of the easiest things you can do to save electricity is simply to stop things in your home from using electricity when you're not even using them. If you've done a lot of reading about green living, you've probably heard the term "energy vampire". An energy vampire is an appliance that uses electricity even if it's turned off, as long as it's plugged in. You can sometimes identify these things by their lights that exist just to tell you they're plugged in.

This is an easy problem to solve. Simply unplug things when you're not using them! Or, if you don't even want to go to that much effort, do what I do and use power bars for everything. I have a power bar in my room that has my CD player, several lava lamps that I hardly ever use, my Christmas tree-style lights, my laptop, my cell phone, and my camera plugged into it, though not all at the same time. When I'm not using any of them, I just turn off the power bar, and everything is instantly unplugged! You could have a similar setup where you plug in your TV, video game consoles, and DVD player, as long as the DVD player isn't also your clock.

Another easy place to cut down on electricity is your computer. Obviously, the biggest thing you can do is turn it off at night, or whenever you're not going to be using it for quite a while. And when you do leave it on, change your settings to put the computer to sleep quickly, rather than using a screensaver.

Alternatively, when your computer is on but you aren't using it, you could use that electricity to help a good cause, by signing up at the World Community Grid! With their program, your computer can use its idle CPU time to contribute to good causes by doing computations. One of the projects you can contribute to is the Clean Energy Project, so you could even be helping to improve solar power technology! So it's really a win-win.

Why I created this blog

I know it says on my about page why I created this blog, but I think this is something that I could put more thought into.

I blog to keep myself honest. When I post my plastic tallies, I'm embarrassed at the thought of my readers seeing how much plastic I use, even if it is less than the average person uses. It's just one more factor motivating me to make the necessary changes in my life. And when I find I have nothing to write about besides plastic, I know I'm not doing enough. I need to find some other way to decrease my impact on the planet, and then write about it.

Blogging is also a way for me to connect with other people who care about the environment as much as I do. I love getting to know the people who comment on my posts or email me with questions. Having my own blog also helps me get to know other people who blog about similar topics, who are a huge inspiration to me, as well as a constant source of ideas and information.

In short, I blog because I am on a lifelong journey towards a life that doesn't harm the planet (and preferably even helps it), and this blog is like a map that I'm drawing as I go, both to show myself how far I've come, and to guide others who wish to travel the same road.

Girl Geek Winnipeg Blog Challenge

As you may have noticed from the latest addition to my sidebar, I am participating in a blog challenge with Girl Geek Winnipeg. I've been part of this group for close to a year now. Once a month we get together for dinner (often at Aqua Books), and afterwards usually someone will give a presentation on some geeky topic, such as marketing with social media, or blogging.

It was during one such presentation, the one on blogging, that we came up with the idea of doing a blog challenge. This idea has finally come to fruition! I'm very excited. I have tried to maintain my blog while in university, but I know I didn't always do the greatest job. Well, now I've graduated, and it's high time I breathed some life into this creation of mine.

As I complete each week's challenges, I will link to the posts here, so that this post will serve as a collection of all the posts I did for the challenge, which will make me see how the challenge has helped me as a blogger.

For more information on the challenge, and to see the other blogs that are participating, check out the website. And it's not too late to sign up! You don't even need to be a girl, a geek, or a Winnipegger to participate.

Let the challenge begin!

Why I created this blog
How to Save Electricity

Show Us Your Plastic Challenge: January 2011

Well, here goes. It's my first month of counting my plastic by month instead of by week. Since I probably averaged around 10 items a week before, it stands to reason that in a month I'd accumulate at around 40. Yet still I was not prepared. The good news is, I think this change will definitely serve its purpose of further motivating me to decrease my plastic usage. Seeing a month's worth of plastic piling up in the corner was just depressing.

For too long I've just been counting my plastic. It's been at a standstill for so long that it often feels like I can't get the numbers any lower. Now I see that that has to change. Call it a New Year's Resolution, slightly belated. I need to put more effort into analysing my habits and finding concrete solutions. It's time to put the "effort" back in "An Effort in Green".

Recyclable Items (9)
  • 3 orange juice cartons
  • 1 M&Ms tube (PP 5)
  • 2 tic tac containers (PP 5)
  • 1 plain soy milk carton
  • 1 chocolate soy milk carton
  • 1 cannelloni container (PETE 1)

Non-Recyclable Items (32):
  • 2 pill packages
  • 3 cereal bags
  • 1 Toblerone wrapper (when did these start coming in plastic?!)
  • 4 bread bags
  • 4 sponge toffee bags (ah, the holidays...)
  • 1 garlic bread wrapper
  • 4 drink carton seals
  • 1 bag from a pre-ordered book (when did Chapters switch from cardboard to plastic for this?)
  • 1 soda crackers package
  • 1 wrapper from a box of After Eights
  • 2 cheese slice wrappers
  • 2 microwave popcorn wrappers
  • 1 pilaf package
  • 1 pilaf spice package
  • 1 apple turnover filling package
  • 1 strawberry turnover filling package
  • 2 icing packages

Total Items: 41

Now, some analysis. First, a few items are holiday-specific, i.e. the M&Ms tube, the tic tacs, and the Toblerone. They were gifts that I wouldn't typically buy myself. The After Eights and sponge toffee are usually only available around Christmas, so they won't be common items either.

Next: What could I easily eliminate with just a little bit of effort? Answer: the bread and cereal bags. I can get bread in paper bags, it just takes a bit more effort and dealing with salespeople who don't understand why I wouldn't want plastic. Hence, my mom usually doesn't want to make that effort, so if I just went out and bought my own bread this wouldn't be an issue. As for cereal, I need to find a good bulk cereal to replace the Honey Nut Cheerios and Mini Wheats. It'll probably end up being better for me anyway. Also, popcorn. I have a hot air popper. I'm just too picky about my popcorn. Sure, the microwave one has more flavour, but it also has more weird chemicals. So I need to just get over it and butter my own darn popcorn.

At some point, I also want to learn to make homemade versions of the apple turnovers, strawberry turnovers, and cinnamon buns that Jonathon and I so enjoy. But that's a bigger project.