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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Reefer madness

Welcome inside!I know you all are busy voting today (or at least should be), or preoccupied with how to live more like a pioneer (or at least should be), but I thought I'd ask a question that we haven't discussed in a while.

And, no it doesn't involve marijuana. I'm talking about refrigerator usage and the willingness to give it up. You see, not too long ago, the best thing going was an icebox. The energy expenditure for making and delivering ice was not inconsequential, particularly since the main mode of energy and transportation was coal driven, so we certainly can't look back on those days with any environmental romanticism. Although I'm sure some still do.

Others will look back to the days when no refrigeration was even possible and either think it's totally doable today or that only people totally off their rockers will attempt to go sans refrigeration. I think that it's a doable project if you are extremely organized or don't eat anything (or little amounts) of food that require refrigeration.

In spite of the energy costs and related environmental impacts (production, packaging, distribution, chemical components, disposal), refrigerators seem to be the last holdout that environmentalists are willing to give up. Who can resist the welcoming arms of a refrigerator, wide-open, beckoning you inside to sample its refreshingly cool contents?

Ask any environmentalist to give up their clothes dryer? Piece of cake. Ditch the heating and air conditioning? No problem. No toilet paper? Sure thing! No refrigerator? Back up slowly and don't make eye contact lest you lose a limb.

We've seen fridge-less experiments come and go. Green as a Thistle gave it a whirl during her year long foray into reducing her impact. No Impact Man also tried giving it up. Yet, when their low-energy experiments were over, both went back to the cold, steely grip of refrigeration. It definitely has its hold on us, doesn't it?

What do you think about your fridge? Would you be willing to give it up? Have you already given it up and, if so, what's been your experience living "warm"?

Related posts:
Appliance freedom
Produce preservation products
Extreme Eco Throwdown

66 comments:

Robj98168 said...

I have to say I love my fridge and am wide eyed when asked to not have it. I like cold water and milk and I love the automatic ice maker. I take a large mason jar mug of ice water to bed with me- I sleep with a BiPap machine for my apnea and get very very thirsty!
So no I don't think I will give it up!

Jenna said...

Could I give it up? Yeah. I've lived without one in the past. But I wouldn't be terribly happy about it.

Will I give it up? Nope. Absolute worse case, crap hits the rotating blades scenario? I can use either our little propane jobbie, or run the little one off our solar system. I could make do with smaller, but I don't see getting rid of it entirely.

tyrtle said...

For two years we lived in a yurt in the woods. When it was cold we were fine. When it was warm, we used a cooler, buried in the ground and occasionally added ice. It worked pretty well, actually.

Not long after that we moved to town to a house without a fridge. The landlord expected us to supply our own and we didn't really have the money right away so we went a couple more months without it. During that time we did what much of the rest of the world does - shopped every day or two for the fresh things we ate.

Now our lives have changed a lot and we're living in Toronto and I'm working rather a lot so that idea isn't quite as doable as before. I think now I would have a harder time giving it up.

blondeoverboard said...

we were forced to give up the fridge when hurricane ike came to play this summer. 2 weeks with no electricity wasn't unbearable but i sure missed my yogurt and cheese. could we do it again if we had to, sure.. there would be grumbling and a frustrated teenaged boy standing in front of the open door day dreaming about cold pizza, but it would be doable. do we want to do it again. not any time soon and not by choice.

d.a. said...

Ditto what @jenna said. Go smaller, sure; go without, not if I don't have to!

ruchi aka arduous said...

I have thought about giving up my fridge. I think I *could* do it, but it requires a ton of organization and a lot of work. And I fear that the result would be that I would end up buying smaller cartons of things and thus wasting resources, i.e. buying a small carton of yogurt every day, or buying a small carton of soymilk every couple days.

Sandy said...

RE: Shopping every day ... Think of all of the driving that is required to prepare a meal every day ... I wonder how that pans out financially? I understand that the fridge is usually the biggest electical pull in your house. My "beef" is with the enormous fridges out there -- even with t.v.'s! Unless you have a family of ten a fridge the size of a 18 wheeler just isn't necessary!

Suzan said...

I cannot imagine life without a fridge. It is too hot and muggy in my corner of Australia. In summer we use a cooler for drinks or the kids would be in and out of it all day. Most of my day to day pantry is in that thing.

Tameson said...

About making ice...I guess it depends where you were how ecological ice making was, 'cause right up until 1940 the previous owner of my parent's house (NH)was an ice man. He cut the ice on his pond with his horses and kept the ice underground and delivered it with the very same horses. No coal used at all. I suppose one could argue that an urban horse uses more energy than a rural horse because of purchased feed etc., but then again I don't know the particulars of Mr. Colcord's feed purchases so it's quite possible those were harvested and delivered as sustainably as his ice.

Mon @Holistic Mama said...

I've seen a few articles and bloggers discuss giving up the fridge, but I feel they often forget that a lot comes down to climate and resources.

Those of us who live in hot and humid places would be lost without one.

And right now I can pop to the shop for daily meals, but not when we move away from the town. So buying daily would mean more resources wasted.

One thing I have designed into our new house is a pantry that faces an external uninsulated wall. This means that we won't need a larger fridge for stocking up our supplies.

Having a freezer and a fridge means that we will be able to keep and preserve foods that we otherwise wouldn't. This means a greener option on many levels, albeit if not the greenest.

Green Grrl said...

We unplugged our fridge just over a year ago. Instead we have a cooler. We also have a small v. efficient cube freezer in the basement (to store all our yummy local food). In the summer we put 2L pop bottles full of water in the freezer and use those to keep the cooler cold. In the winter we put those same pop bottles outside to freeze.
Has actually been one of the easiest things we've done. I'd be happy never having a fridge again. :)

Michelle said...

I am fairly new to the environmental blogs and I am shocked at how often giving up some of these things would never have occurred to me.

My first reaction was "NO WAY!" With four kids, a busy household and jobs, shopping every day for my food would not be fun.

BUT, I am nothing if not enticed by a challenge, so after thinking about it a bit, I believe I could give it up if I had to. But I hope I never have to.

Of all my appliances, I would cling to the refrigerator, freezer, washer and (maybe, in the winter) dryer (which is dead right now - ugh!)

Malva said...

I would give it up if I could keep my freezer. Then rotate ice packs in a cooler.

The Purloined Letter said...

We have a tiny very old fridge and are thinking of replacing it with a tiny Sunfrost. Occasionally we talk about doing without--but then the grandparents talk about how nice it would be for us to get a McMansion fridge and we start thinking "compromise".... Thanks for giving us some more to chew on before we make our decision.

Anonymous said...

We opted for a smaller Energy Star fridge when it was time to buy a new one. This requires us to utilize the space efficiently and eat leftovers that might have otherwise been wasted. Debbie C

jewishfarmer said...

Here's what we do. We kept our freezer - a chest freezer uses less electricity, actually, than most comparable upright fridges. We also have no choice about this - we sell our pastured poultry from our farm, so we have to have a way of keeping it frozen. If not, I think what we'd probably do is convert our chest freezer to a chest fridge for the warm months. But what we do now is use our existing fridge (and for this a free, broken one would work fine as long as the seals and gaskets were intact) as an icebox, with rotating ice packs. It cuts our electric usage quite dramatically, and it takes about 2 seconds to switch the packs around. If you didn't have ice packs, you could use bottles of frozen water. Works great.

Meanwhile, from November to April, we have natural refrigeration. Honestly, this is something I simply don't grasp - most Canadians and more than half of all Americans have natural refrigeration for a good chunk of the year - why not simply unplug for the cold months? It would be easy to adapt a closet on an outside wall, use a porch, or coolers.

It is true that the shop every day mechanism requires that we re-establish community businesses locally, but that's a good idea anyway. The coolants in fridges and freezers are problematic in more ways than just electric usage.

That said, since we have a freezer, we're not cold free. I've been mulling over our options for that day, though. Even in my rural area, it would be feasible to try and keep one freezer shared between several neighbors, for example, and walk over and rotate if we had to - or we could simply live differently, and cook and eat that way. It would take practice.

Once upon a time, the cold beer was down at the pub on the corner -going back to that past doesn't seem so unimaginable.

Sharon

Anonymous said...

I would give up electric lights before I would give up the fridge, I think - we both work full time & have other responsibilities, so I make 3 meals on Sunday afternoon & three more on Wednesday or Thursday. (Actually, 9 - we both take dinner leftovers for lunch). If I can't manage that, we do all the washing & chopping at night before bed, for dinner cooked the next day. There is no way I have time to shop and cook each evening before meal time.

Plus, since we have wind electricity but cook with natural gas, the impact of the fridge & microwave for storing & reheating is less than if I used the stovetop & oven every day - right now I roast a bunch of things at once instead of separate oven times for each thing. (our fridge was purchased new, when the old one died, but the microwave is a hand-me-down from friends who got married & each had one.)

Katy said...

Hey blondeoverboard... fellow Ike surrvior here!

I have to say that I think the number one thing a lot of people learned from the Ike experiance is just how much *stufff* they had cramed into the back of their fridge and freezers.

I think an easy solution is a smaller fridge. I think it would get people to eat more of their left overs if they had to clean things out every week instead of once a lifetime.

katecontinued said...

I unplugged the small refrigerator 4 months ago. It has made me conscious of what I buy or harvest. It is now cooking by looking - what needs to be eaten?

Your blog, NIM, Greenpa and Vanessa all helped me prepare myself for a sustainable challenge and blog (1 yr yesterday). As Michelle said, I wouldn't have thought of so much of this without the blogosphere.

I had downscaled prior to this with eliminating a freezer and living with a small under-counter refrigerator four years ago. I have a countertop ice maker which I can use in a small cooler. For the most part I just don't eat meat, milk or other highly perishable food. It makes a basket of cubes in about a half hour and then I shut it off.

Like your Pioneer challenge, the best part of any challenge is to face what it is we don't know and work through the myths, limitations and advantages. We have been systematically brainwashed since birth to believe consumption is vital.

For me there is nothing more empowering or freeing. Rationing and doing without may not be so far away for people. Besides I am 55 weeks from retirement and have no income beyond a small stash (the last of an IRA) so the savings is a must.

Pen of Jen said...

Funny as I am most certainly not one that is pondering this for any other reason than I am done with the science labs, and the expense of buying another.

Our lives have taken a turn due to an accident 4 years ago by husband...so we have been on a reverse learning curve. We are living on less, and as things die they no longer are replaced. The dryer died so we use solar dryer...the washer is dying so I hand wash much...the freezer died so out it went...and now the fridge is coughing and sputtering so I foresee a day in the near future where we are without. It will be an adaptation but everything has been in the last few years. As our food intake has changed due to not wasting half of the foods we buy I think that we may be able to. I did a study while we still had excess money that I would buy cr*p that was definitely impulse and wasteful...I mean how many salad dressings does a family need? Or BBQ sauces??? But if we put aside enough I will buy another freezer, as this was a much more necessary item to us. Oh and we would not shop each day...we would just make a meal for breakfast that would be the daily meal..nothing left by eve. Canned meats make this possible...

Jennifer(humble wife) doublenickelfarm.blogspot.com

Just trying to be green said...

Actually, I've been planning to stop using the refrigerator (or at least cut back to a tiny 1 cubic foot thing) for a while now.

I looked in my fridge, and I noticed it had a lot were things that didn't need to be refrigerated: vegetables, butter, ketchup, etc. So I don't think it's going to be too hard.

Hausfrau said...

Several people have mentioned getting smaller fridges... definitely do the research first because I have read that the small fridges don't use proportionally less energy - in fact not much less at all.

I would be willing to go to a (converted) chest fridge, which I think would use enough less electricity that it might be feasible to run off a solar panel. The problem is converting the thing and then converting my husband!

Here in Oklahoma City, it can be 80 degrees in November, the weather doesn't stay predictably cold. So it's hard to use natural refrigeration. OTOH we can sometimes get tomatoes out of the garden until December. I guess it's a tradeoff.

Ellen said...

I store a lot of frozen food in my deep freeze during the summer and spring, to eat all winter. I'd give up my fridge before I'd give up my freezer. Is that weird?

fhe said...

Some ideas:
buy a smaller energy efficient box -smaller also means less waste
buy a horizontal freezer
never chill drinks -will also keep the fat off.
don't put ice in everything -it destroys the taste
don't open the door and think what you want to get
don't open the door to see what you can get
don't refrigerate unless you have to. Most things will keep for a few days at normal ambient temperatures
don't buy stuff in huge quantities- you never save anyways, you just consumer and waste more

Usage Unit said...

I gave up a fridge almost exactly a year ago now, altho I "cheated" in the summer and used a small high-rated cooler that I bought ice for. I'll probably eventually get a fridge again, but I think I'll be able to get my with a small bar fridge. The great thing that you learn is how little really needs a fridge: only dairy and meat really (and tomato sauce). Eggs last three weeks outside of a fridge, even in the summer! Ketchup, mustard, jelly, salad dressing, all do fine. And I would think it would be even easier with a family, since I sometimes can't eat all of the smallest containers of some things (tomato sauce) before they go bad. So in all it's a nice learning experience anyway.

maryann said...

Could I live without it if I absolutely had to, sure. Would I willngly give it up? No. The nearest grocery store is 25 minutes away (one way) and I'd waste more time and energy making the trip for fresh food everyday, never mind the food that would be wasted without proper storage. We've replaced the fridge with the most energy efficient one I could find and I've researched natural cold storage. I'd love to switch to root cellar,underground storage but it isn't a practical solution for us right now

SusanB said...

Re ice/coal -- my grandfather at one time made a living cutting lake ice and hauling it to storage by horse power where it was stored and resold. The collected ice kept itself cold in its insulated storage. In northern Illinois, this was a developed business -- well before my time.
I lived without a refrigerator in a city while in temporary housing a couple summers. I shopped every night on my way home from work at the supermarket across the street, but I didn't have a real kitchen either.
When our huge gargantuan came with the house fridge died this summer in July, we bought a new e-star smaller one, immediately rejecting the no fridge option, but we did pretty well with ice for a few days. We don't have a chest freezer.
We could live without a refrigerator, but we really don't want too especially if we didn't have an alternative cooling mechanism/procedure for the hot and humid months.

Kim from Milw said...

Great 'food' for thought, CC. I think I could live without a fridge if I had to. We have a basement where we could keep things cool, or in a cooler/ice chest. I'd be up for trying to live without it in the winter and just keep perishables in a cooler outside.

Maybe in a couple months we could use the challenge. :)

cheflovesbeer said...

Food keeps a lot longer without refrigeration than people think. I have kept cheese in my backpack for a week in August before.You have to make sure it is in a cool part of your pack! It may get a little funky but it is still edible. Harder cheeses Take the heat better. Cheeses covered in wax will last a long time.

Sausages, pepperonis, and salamis were all ways of preserving meat and last a long time without refrigeration.

Anonymous said...

I'm writing from Hungary (Europe). For me it is really funny how central is your fridge in your kitchen. In my home, we have small fridges, about a quarter of your average size, usually put or built in under the kitchen side. So I'd say just try using smaller ones, if you can buy small ones at all, that is, since it is proven by practice that in totally civilized parts of the world people can do without huge fridges, automatic ice makers, whatever.

Maudi said...

I was just realizing today how much room I have in my fridge. I rent an apt. and the fridge comes with, therefore, it never really occurred to me not to use it. It is very large and is almost always empty, since I really use the veggie bins. Most of what I buy can probably be left out of the fridge anyway. I love salads though. So it might be difficult. And oftentimes I make extra dinner for my next day's lunch at work.

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

I spent one year living in the Central Asian desert without a refrigerator and it wasn't really an issue until summer rolled around. Unfortunately, their summers are notoriously long and brutally hot and not having a refrigerator (or even a mechanism to keep things cool)at that time ultimately challenged both my physical and mental health. Under those conditions, I would never recommend it to anyone else.

Now that I am here in New England, I think it would be relatively easy to live without refrigeration. I feel far too traumatized from my experience in Central Asia, however, to take my environmentalism that far.

Carmen said...

It seems to me you'd be trading off an environmental problem with a whole slew of health problems due to tainted food!

Is it worth it?

In the "old days" people did have less impact, but they also died at much younger ages for purely preventable reasons.

Anonymous said...

We were without power for a week this summer, and actually did not miss the fridge that much. We discovered that our refrigerator space was mostly taken up by condiments. We have an advantage in this area because we are vegans, and cook mostly from dried beans, grains, home-canned and gardened items. We do use the freezer, but could easily preserve most of what we store there in a different way if we had to. The main thing standing between us and fridgeless living is the absolute need for popsicles on the part of my six year old.

Green Mamma said...

I have to admit that we're pretty attached to our fridge. We love cold drinks and I love ice cream (among other foods).

As for some of the other items you listed, our family is committed to living environmentally and we use toilet paper. Honestly, I'm just not ready to go down a toilet paper-less route.

stella said...

I could go for a very small bar/dorm refrigerator, and will probably do so if we become home owners since there is a lot of wasted space in ours, and we really barely use the freezer except for the occassional pint of ice cream or to chill a beer mug.

I know I could go without the fridge--it is possible. But, I'd rather not. Where we live in the bay is not cold enough at night to conserve the things that we use to make brown bag lunches (avocado, cream cheese, yogurt sometimes a hardboiled egg). It also takes us a week to go through soy milk or regular milk.

Harper said...

I am one of those who would find it harder to give up a freezer than the fridge. I rent and have a big, old, dying fridge and have considered getting a small freezer and unplugging the fridge. I haven't considered asking the landlords for a new fridge because I am certain they would replace this one with a similar energy hog. The problem for me is one of space. And one of efficient shopping and cooking. I live alone and the idea of shopping and preparing meals everyday makes me feel tired. I adore leftovers. I agree that much that we keep cold is just habit rather than necessity but I sure would miss my big pot of soup sitting in the fridge waiting for me to warm up a serving for my dinner.

Angie said...

It actually never crossed my mind to willingly give up my fridge. So...on this one I'll have to answer "no".

Chris_Belgium said...

I don't know if dropping the fridge is such a good idea. Why, first? Because of the power its uses?
I don't know in the US but down here in Europe, fridges can be thrifty: mine uses about 0,35 kWh a day and it's not a small one. Of course, it doesn't come with the fancy ice maker/cruncher or cold water dispenser but who *needs* that?
I think in many cases, not using a fridge would generate more waste than owning one, especially if noone in the house is readily available each and every day for that little bit of shopping that not having a fridge implies.
True, I try and be as green as I can but there are hundreds of other ways you can save energy and still keep the fridge...

Scripter said...

If you live in an urban setting and have to rely on grocery stores (or in some cases farmers' markets), a fridge really seems like a necessity. It is instrumental in slowing the growth of bacteria and keeping fresh food available. The refrigerator is one modern convenience I do not think I would ever be willing to sacrifice.

jimbolini23 said...

I've done it, and it's easy!!

Most of what we eat doesn't need refrigeration (grains, veggies). While eggs don't "keep" as long unrefrigerated, they (as well as butter) last plenty long if stored in a cool, shady spot. Just buy meat on the day you cook it, and buy just what you need. No waste, and you'll be healthier for it. Want a dessert? Pop corn, or bake a batch of cookies. Want ice cream? Either make it, or buy just what you'll use. BTW, nonfat dry milk (powder) doesn't need the 'fridge either. Just mix what you'll use.

Honestly, the one thing I missed -- and treasured -- was ice on a hot summer day! What a treat! But, you can buy a sack of ice for what? A buck? That's really nothing. My current fridge consumes 4kW/day, or 60 cents a day (or $18 a month). Right now, its on for no particular reason. Water comes cold enough from the tap. I don't want to put meat scraps into my compost pile, so I don't like buying meat.

Thanks, I guess I'll turn it off when I get home...

Melissa said...

The hubby and I have thought of digging out a root cellar. If we "had to" get rid of the frig we would survive. Unlike the teenage son who would perish without the freezer full of rock hard ice cream!

Joy said...

For me, I would give up other things first before I'd ever consider not having the reefer. As it is now, I have 2 of them and don't know how I'd get along with either one of them! Granted, there are 8 of us and I cook for 12 nearly every night!

Allie said...

Due to Ike, I recently had a several-week-long "experiment" without refrigeration. I can say with certainty that aside from my annual week-long camping trip, I am unwilling to live without a refrigerator if it isn't necessary.

It is doable, and I still made food for us daily, but the need to figure out foods to eat that could sit out overnight, perfect portion sizes, etc., was ridiculous and not worth it.

This would be more doable if I wasn't in school or have a job (I have both) because the way I could plan and execute meals would be different, but again, Im' just not willing.

Maeve said...

I can envision not having a fridge and freezer, but that's really more nightmarish than dreamy.

I like my cold water (filtered pitcher!) and cold milk, being able to buy lots of cheese when it's on sale, being able to do a huge meal and keep the leftovers safely for the next day (no food poisoning for me!), and I absolutely adore my ice maker. I like being able to get larger items of all sorts of things, they're cheaper and use less packaging. No fridge makes that pointless, as most of them require refrigeration once opened.

So, no I am not interested in doing without my fridge.

knutty knitter said...

We turned off the fridge all winter but did eventually have to turn it on again because it is also one of our freezers and the dratted thing won't operate the freezer without the fridge.

We are planning to ditch it and get a separate small fridge when we upgrade the kitchen (and hopefully banish the mice!)

viv in nz

tuningspoon said...

Just found your blog today, via other enviromental blogs. The family of my ex-boyfriend lived in eastern Washington state, and they lived refrigerator-less for his entire life. They had a small plot of land and grew most of their own food (and worked - they weren't full time farmers). They had huge "root cellar"/cold house in the yard with walls a foot thick that kept food cold. They pickled much of their produce, and did have a freezer in the house. Meeting them and understanding how they lived really broadened my understanding of sustainable living. Here in Atlanta, where I live now, I don't see letting go of my fridge anytime soon, though!

Suzan said...

Another explanantion. In my fridge I store all our lentils, beans, nuts, flours etc. Food infestation can be a real problem here. Butter etc runs away overnight so it isn't going to happen. I purchased an environmentally friendly fridge. It doesn't chill water or make ice. I do that myself. In the colder months I alter the settings so the fridge is not as cold. If I could do without a fridge or freezer I would but I can't. We don't have air conditioning or heater and we brave the heat or cold but I am not prepared to have precious food go off due to the climate.

Midnightsky Fibers said...

I could give it up without a huge sacrifice. I don't eat much eggs or dairy, and most I do eat are outside my house anyways.

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

What do I think? Hmm, well I used to think that this blog was a good source of information about how to live greener. However, now I think it has crossed over from mainstream to main green. We all want to save the earth. We all try to recycle, reduce, reuse. But, why in the world would we try to make one step forward with saving energy if it means taking 3 steps backward in inconvenience, stress, and, for lack of better words, unhappiness. I think it DOES make people happy to have cold uncurdled milk. I think people DO enjoy eating food that they know is still fresh and not gone to rot. I'm all for buying an energy-efficient fridge. I'm not interested in taking a trip back 100 years.

Erika said...

Wow... my first instinct was - "Heck yeah, I'll live w/o a fridge," but then I realized that my husband is VERY fond of our fridge... well, he's fond of nearly everything that I've been trying to cut out (dryer, thermostat, long showers, out of season produce, non-organic items, HFCS, plastic, etc.).

I think if we cooked from scratch all the time (e.g. ketchup, other condiments, soymilk/tofu, etc.) it would be easier to go w/o a fridge - I would only make what I knew I was going to use or put up that day... unless it was the dead of winter here in the Pacific NW.

I certainly would miss the nice, 38 degree water that comes out of the fridge (pitcher in, not through door) in the "heat" of said PNW's summer (for those of you, pretty much south/east of the Cascades/Columbia, our version of HOT is 80...)...

I'm so rambling, and it's SO after my "no more email/blogging/commenting time...

--Erika

Katie @ makingthishome.com said...

We just moved to Germany where dorm-sized fridges are average. I'd never thought about going without a fridge (the dryer part was EASY). I do know that if we ever move back to the US, I never want more than a dorm fridge. What about that for a possible medium? I really don't see the point of the super jumbo ones. Now I'm going to be thinking long and hard about our small one. Thank you, Crunchy!

BrooklynLorax said...

No. I mitigate its impact by buying power from an ESCO that builds wind farms. But, a freezer is an important part of my eating locally and organically (reduce aluminum can use, plastic wrap, etc). Don't want to cook or prepare everyday, so I make large batches of soup and beans and freeze it. Also, keeping leftovers is far better than throwing it away.

Jen said...

Yeah, I could go without my fridge, if I moved to a small community where I could walk to the grocery store, my neighborhood farmer, and the dairy. Sure. I would love that. Otherwise, no way jose.

naomi said...

i lived without a refridgerator for a school year when i was 18/19. i owned one, merely turned it of. it didn't make that huge of a difference for me and i actually quite enjoyed it! i found myself more in touch with the food that i was cooking since i had to cook smaller meals instead of making one huge pot of something and eating from it for a week... i have one again now, the main reason i returned to it is that i started eating meat / dairy again and wanted to be able to store homemade pickles and things in larger quantities. overall though it wasn't really that bad; my whole foods / vegan diet probably made it MUCH easier. Eating local from a once-a-week farmer's market was a challenge though... i didn't always eat a lot of veggies late in the week and really learned to appreciate the veggies that do store well.

naomi said...

also, i live in texas, which definitely makes a difference! i made a point of walking to the store for my more frequent trips (smaller loads to carry make a car trip unnecessary) and really just stopped buying things like rice milk and other perishables. i ate mostly rice / legumes / oatmeal type staples with the weekly fresh local veggies.

curiousalexa said...

When my mom was a teen, she had a year without a frig. They shopped frequently on the way home, but not every day. I've asked her for more details, but I imagine they simply alternated foods with perishables vs those without on those days. Between the three of them (her, mom, brother), a pot of spaghetti probably didn't leave much leftovers needing refrigeration!

mnultraguy said...

On the topic of small fridges, realize that most of the "smaller" dorm, bar styles are incredibly inefficient and it maybe better to go with a small normal size fridge.

Kim said...

We went without a fridge for a number of months while living off-grid in a yurt. This isn't something I ever want to do again.

It was expensive and time consuming to shop for the day's items that needed to be refrigerated every day. I shudder to think of all the packaging waste we generated because we had to buy such small quantities. We now live in a rural area in the high desert and try to hit the store only once every week or so. I buy all of our dairy and meat in bulk so we use our little fridge a lot. We currently have a smaller fridge that is an energy efficient model and a small dorm type fridge that came with the house. I'm currently trying to convince dh that we can turn off the dorm fridge. Even with both of those running and a regular household of lights, computers, and such our electric bill is under $20 a month. I don't think a normal fridge really uses all that much electricity, certainly not enough to give it up.

kelley said...

how do you keep your beer cold?

Riana Lagarde said...

we gave up our fridge back in July. it has been liberating. i love not listening to the constant hummmmm. when we moved we left that fridge unplugged and behind us.

we have a deep freezer (very energy efficienct one), cold storage room and an ice box (dorm sized fridge turned off) that we put yogurt (homemade each week), butter and milk in with a frozen bottle or two each day. it works great. we use up our leftovers or can them or freeze them and there is a lot less spoilage because we are conscious of what we have to use.

maybe people think we are off our rocker, but now we dont need a giant kitchen to fill with appliances. it gives us more family space.

Kathleen McDade said...

This is really cool, to see all of the different methods people are using. Obviously, the reality is that it depends on your situation -- climate, work schedules, etc. -- but it's also obvious that it can be done! Good work, people.

Alline Anderson said...

Hey Crunchy! We are totally off grid (we use both solar & wind) and so are very conscious of our power usage. Our fridge is a small DC powered upright fridge - not huge, but certainly big enough. When it is sunny and windy and our batteries are full, we use electricity with abandon - we even have electrical appliances as "diversion" loads to use the excess power being generated. It feels kind of weird, but many times electicity is naturally abundant. As a native San Franciscan transplanted to the Midwest, I am incredibly grateful for the blessings of ice cubes in the middle of the hellishly hot & humid summers. In less sunny, less windy times, we are more power-frugal, and even unplug the fridge when our batteries get low during the dark days of winter. It all seems to even out. We really like being aware of what we are using, and being in touch with the sun and the wind that provide us with power for everything from our fridge to our KitchenAid and water pump.

Paul said...

I use an Engel ac/dc unit. Mostly I freeze with it and use ice in a cooler for milk, cheese, left overs, beer, etc. I particularly enjoy being able to take it with me; van, boat, ski condo. Works very well and is a juice miser.

Pablo

Foocifer said...

I lived without a fridge on and off when I was a kid. Mostly because we did not either always have one or could not pay the electric bill. I grew up in Cleveland.

We could live without it even in the city. People everywhere only 75 plus years ago did so just fine. You learn to work around it. My grandparents homes had built in fruit cellars which worked great. Gramps stored beer there too. In the country they had spring houses and root cellars that kept things cool. It really is the prepared and frozen food that would cause the most problem. This may not be such a bad thing for most of us, weight and chemical load wise not to mention packaging. My grandparents lived in neighborhoods where all the services where within walking distance or a short bi weekly car or bus trip. The family and home frequently had a primary caretaker even if they worked outside the family part-time. It is eye opening when you really look at what a "house wife" did and the tools she had to work with 50 years ago, 100 years ago 500 years ago.

I remember my grandmother using the ringer style washer as a child in the 70s to be hung up on a clothes line. My grandmother hated modern washers - they ruined clothes a lot faster with wear and tear.

So back to the point - modern tech has its good and bad points. Part of the problem is we tend to forget older technologies they replaced. I could see giving up a giant fridge and trading down to something smaller even if it only saved on the resources to make the fridge. But even my grandparents enjoyed the smallish fridge they had.

Layla said...

A friend of mine went fridge-free.. (She was mad when someone insisted on buying her a new fridge! 'I'll just keep it unplugged,' she said.)

She lives next to a (conventional) shop, & has bought stuff to eat daily (she's had an eating disorder in the past, this was her way of preventing binge eating - hmm..?)

she's not very much into reducing packaging, alas (though she feared global warming etc) -

I was fridge-less at the dorm, in my Uni years, for a little while.. (a few months I guess) - it was an inconvenience, more likely..

I ate a lot of dairy spread that lasted forever even outside of fridge (so I hate to think what had to be in it?!) & even resorted to trying out powdered milk (I didn't like it!) or just bought stuff daily/when needed (a store was near too) or hid stuff in neighbour's tiny fridge - we didn't have a window ledge where stuff could be put outside & kept cool easily..

I'm wondering if everyone could do it to a degree in cold winters? (use window ledges & cold chambers and outside parts of the house/property?)
There's less energy needed for heating in the summer, & solar energy produced more easily, so this could be an interesting idea?

/eyes the garden wistfully & wonders if a cool box could be safely deposited there lol!! if neighbour's doggies don't enter??/

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