Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Eco Throwdown post mortem

Now that the Extreme Eco Throwdown is over, I thought I'd check in with you all and find out how you fared.

I certainly hope you did better than I. At the very least, I hope you fared well enough to make up for the enormous transgressions that occurred around the Crunchy household during the month of May.

I knew that I wouldn't be able to achieve much of anything with this challenge so I don't really consider myself as participating (which is why I wasn't posting about it much).

Here are the gory details:

1. No plastic: Let's just say that rubber gloves, Tegaderm, saline and Heparin filled syringes and Parafilm were making a strong presence around here.

2. No paper products: Does a four-fold increase in paper towels for sterilizing countertops count? On the other hand, we are strictly using cloth wipes for Number 1 (adults only - I have enough plumbing challenges with the kids).

3. No driving: Ha ha ha. We drove probably two to three times more than we normally do with all the trips down to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, work, etc. I'm really enjoying the increased gas prices.

4. Local food only: Can you say asparagus? How about asparagus? Oh yeah, what about asparagus? Add to that the kale, broccoli leaves, onions (from last year), locally sourced pasta, meat and eggs and we ate more locally than the last several months. This will only get better.

5. No garbage output: About the same as normal, which is to say that our output is small. My brother came to visit recently and he was astounded at how small our garbage can is. Since we can pretty much recycle or compost everything (food waste and yard waste), there isn't much that goes out.

6. No excessive water use: We were about the same on our water usage, maybe down a little bit.

7. No electricity: Well, we certainly used less electricity and oil heat because of warmer temperatures as well as the fact that it's light out from 5:00am to about 9:00pm. I'll be posting a diatribe about alternative lighing this week. Look out!

So, how did you do? Were you able to throw it down?


Riana Lagarde said...

I didnt participate either, meaning i didnt sign up because we are already living a slow year (not buying anything for a year) but you know, you got me thinking about A LOT of things with this knock down, blow out eco challenge.

Because of excessive electricity usage in my eyes, we are *this* close to not using a fridge anymore. Then, I asked mom for solar panels for the computer for my birthday.

We have almost no garbage because of no incoming, but i am finding more ways to use garbage and also when i take out a bag, i take something out of the trash. like cardboard boxes to make things for my daughter, i found ten meters of chicken wire fencing (for future chickens) and i picked up recyclables out of other people trash on the way to the recycle drop off.

we combine almost all of our trips to town so less gas usage (its equiv of 10 bucks a gallon here)

so thank you for the challenge, it has made some difference in our household for sure.

Anonymous said...

I need a shower nazi. I signed up to cut water usage knowing full well that I am the worst b/c my showers are too long. I bragged recently about getting my haircut shorter and taking less time, but that's just not happening. I have a timer, I just keep forgetting to start it before I step in. So...I am still working on it. No one is usually home except for my almost 3yo son and he is too wrapped up in Sesame Street or Plaza Sesamo to be of any help! Besides, I don't quite trust his number reading ability enough to rely on him to tell time! I do appreciate how ladies of the blog world keep challenging me though. I know I can do better and it's important to constantly analyze what I do and why I do it. That's the first step to change!

Anonymous said...

Crunch, First let me say I'm sooooo glad that you're back. Your blog is the first I check when I turn on the computer each and every morning. May it bring you comfort to know that other's care about you and your family. That being said, I didn't do too well with the challenge. I tried, I honestly did. However, I remain ever vigilant in regards to my consumption so this in itself was a success and I am constantly looking for ways to use less. I'd give myself a C+.
Debbie C

anna j said...

i didn't officially sign up, but we decided to do a week of no electricity based on the eco-throwdown. we left the fridge on, but turned off all the other breakers in the box.

we had mixed results.

the fridge itself used 23kwh in the week. that's roughly the amount used during one week of normal usage from last summer. *sigh* is it time to start saving for a better fridge? is it time to reevaluate our needs for a fridge/freezer? perhaps.

it turns out we're addicted to tv and the internet, and went through withdrawls culminating in irritability during the last two days of the week-without-power.

we did allow for a couple concessions: 1. coffee (we don't have a hand grinder to go with our french press) and 2. laundry washing (it was just too much to think about hand-washing at the time).

on the Very Good side, it wasn't really that difficult to go without most electrical thingies. i was totally productive at work all week long. we really enjoyed being on a "team" together with the challenge. i finally got enough sleep (going to bed when the sun goes down is my idea of heaven). and the garden got more attention than usual.

i feel like, overall, we learned a lot from the week with no power, and so far, we've been using our lights less since we turned the power back on on sunday night.

thanks for the kick in the rear that put the idea in our minds, crunchy!

Cave-Woman said...

Some things went well---the eating locally, walking more instead of driving, and using less electricity part improved significantly.

On the no plastic front---I made marginal headway. Geez, it is tough to minimize plastic! It seems everything is covered in it.

However, we fell off the wagon with fabric purchases (clothes and raw fabrics, too). Hopefully we'll make good use of these things since one of the fabrics is meant to be an insulator to our bedroom windows. Maybe that'll keep our cooling bill lower.

Oh---and we will be drying our clothes on a clotheline this summer.

So---not as far as I would have like to have gotten---but better.

My first vegetable garden is starting to look pretty good, too.
The squash blossoms are beautiful!

Cave-Woman said...

For Anna Banna---how old is your refrigerator?

I have heard of a product called "Green Plug" that is supposed to minimize the energy used by your refrigerator (If it was made pre-1993).

If your 'frig is that old, contact me and I'll send you my Green Plug. (We moved into a smaller place to save money/energy/all resources really---and this place came with a energy star new refrigerator, so our green plug wasn't helpful to us here.)

Amy Dacyczyn of "The Tightwad Gazette" has written an interesting article about the Green Plug, and has good things to say about it. I highly recommend it to anyone with an older refrigerator that wants their food to stay cool, but also doesn't want their appliance use too much energy.

Anonymous said...

My challenge was no plastic - especially at the grocery store. Well, I gave up. It is nearly impossible in our society. I don't have time to make my own bread, so the alternative is to buy it in a plastic bag. Then I had a dilema about mustard. Do I buy the organic mustard in a plastic jar or regular mustard in a glass jar?!!! I went with organic. So, my challenge did not go well.

maryann said...

I failed miserably on all the challenges I had signed up for. It was a cold wet spring and none of the farmers markets were open yet, I tried to get as much local as possible and settled for sustainable, organic as a second. On top of that I ended up finding out I was pregnant which has meant some diet changes including things like cereal and yogart and lots of other things I didn't normally eat- plastic and waste and non local. I do continue to try on a day to day to eat as much local as I can and make an effort to reduce waste (big pet peeve even before this challenge). So as far as the challenge FAILED, but I continue to try to make better choices and reduce my impact

Crunchy Chicken said...

Well, any of you that even tried doing this heinous challenge, you can't say you failed as there was little way to succeed short of camping in the woods for the month and foraging/hunting for food.

So, give yourselves a break for even trying. What I was hoping to do was make you more aware of your daily actions, by making you focus on what you do use.

Just because you made certain choices doesn't equal failure. Just consider yourself environmentally enlightened. That's a heck of a lot more than the rest of the population.

Congratulations to all of you who tried!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the good word on trying the challeng. That is exactly what I did and it DID make me much more aware of my use and spending.

I discovered that it takes 30 minutes to walk to the grocery store and half again to most of my other stops. Biking it would be great if I didn't have to haul my 4 year old behind me.

I'm going to keep working on all of it. thanks!

ruchi said...

I ended up struggling so much with local food, that I didn't even attempt some of the other things I was going to try (water, plastic.)

Ah well. Better luck next time.

Ellen said...

I posted a recap on my blog:

but in general, it went well! Many changes were made and it's only going to get better, thank to you! I was most educated in the area of water conservation. Who knew my warm-up water would amount to so much? I pretty much water my small garden with it alone! We are also down to 2 garbage bags a week, which doesn't come close to filling our 60 pound (downgraded from 90!!) container. And with the no plastic rule, there just isn't that much trash left. Thank you for this challenge! I'm going to keep it up as much as I can.

Anonymous said...

I participated in the challenge in a way where I would follow one rule each week. I tried 1 week without plastic, and realized that I could only successfully do 1 week with no new plastic. However, 1 week with no new plastic was much better than I've ever done...and I was very successful! My cutbacks on water turned out well, especially for shower time, so I'm continuing to use the timer for my showers :) I didn't drive for a week - hurrah! - but mainly because for one week in May I had a training class within walking distance of my place. So, I guess I cheated a little...? I'm still going to try public transport to my office in the coming months. Finally, eating local food. I'm coming right along with this one. I am visiting the farmer's market a lot more often and am checking out the produce signage in my grocery to see where my food's coming from. Guess this part of the challenge really helped me to realize how many common foods come from such far away places like Chile! Anyway, in general I'm more aware of my impact and I'm so happy to have participated in the Eco Throwdown. Thanks Crunchy!

Anonymous said...

Anna Banana and cave woman - re: the Green Plug - do a little research to make sure the type of Green Plug works with the type of refrigerator. I got one from Freecycle last year and did NOT know to research. Plugged in my chest freezer. And the thing failed. Let's just say ... a whole chest freezer full of wasted food. (Although we had a still-mostly-frozen turkey that I was able to Freecycle to someone who could use it right away!)

I later learned that the right type of plug is essential. (The freezer, fortunately, still works -- plugged into a regular socket.)

JessTrev said...

I was pretty worthless this month ALTHOUGH as you say, being more aware is the goal. But I realized that the few trips I take in my car? I need my car for...although i could take the bus if I didn't have a car, the baby's nap schedule would be thrown blah blah. Water - I am graywatering like a madwoman and flinch now if I hear someone actually *flushing* but I don't think that is the biggest source of our water woes (the bill hardly changed) as we were let it mellowers anyways. I hardly ever use paper towels anyways... what else? Oh, the local thing. Well on a good note our CSA starts today! And I did (big car trip tho) drive to pick up our farm meat and eggs... But the *pineapples* my DD wanted to bring her PreK for snack? Not so local. I so appreciate your challenges, tho, keep em coming (if blogging is rejuvenating you and if not go read a book)!

Theresa said...

I pretty much failed at the throwdown in terms of the 7 overt goals, but I succeeded in realizing how far I have to go, and how poorly my life is set up for really taking up the challenge of living in an honestly fair and sustainable way. It was a very good practice in humility.

A lot of north american lives are poorly set up this way, I think. So I'm now starting to work on how I can change this for the better. This was an eye-opener of a challenge Crunchy - thanks for pushing my envelope.

Laura said...

I signed up for the whole kit and kaboodle. It didn't go off completely as planned.

Things that did go well:

~1 and 2 wipes. Both my boyfriend and I are using them.

~David and I had an off the grid day yesterday. Inspired by the 'no electricity' mandate. We even read by candle light in the evening. We put tape on the light switches to keep ourselves honest. :)

~I finally got my worm bin in place. David found a few worms in the yard that I have been trying to keep alive. I may have to break down and order more.

Local food is some how tougher than I thought. Getting to the farmer's market is not a habit yet. And Pike Place is just far enough away that it seems like a chore too. We both keep an eye out for local choices.

Thanks for the challenge! :)

Wendy said...

I wanted to participate, but when I handed the list to my husband, he rolled his eyes at me (a look that's become too familiar over the past couple of years), and I knew I'd just better drop it. But then, as I followed Burban mom's progress, I realized that *I* could have just done the challenge without his participation, but it wouldn't have been as much fun.

I mean, it's hard enough going against the status quo, but when you LIVE with the status quo ....

Anyway, I loved the plan you made for the challenge, and I think it's cool how well everyone did ;). So, Kudos to everyone, including you, Crunchy, the evil genius behind the whole thing ;).

cindy24 said...

I signed up for the water part. I managed to get a rain barrel to put the bath water in but have yet to set it up. We have been taking about 1/2 the bath/shower water out to the yard with buckets. The DWP guy was reading meters yesterday so since mine runs from 4/3 to 6/2, I will know soon what my water usage was. I am hoping to get below 100 per day. I have 4 kids, 3 dogs, 2 cats, and varying number of foster cats/kittens. Needless to say I do lots of laundry. I have a high efficiency washer and dish washer. However, I have to prerinse after buying the Seventh Generation Poweder dishsoap in bulk. I also can't get away with just vinager in the rinse cycle thing on the dishwasher with that soap. I watered the veges with the water collected while getting hot. I need to get a power washer for the cement where one dog has decided to pee. It is really hard with regular water pressure to get it off. I figure a power washer will use less water. I have been really good with the water. On Tuesdays the cleaning lady comes and Wednesday the gardner. I have little control over those water days. I know the gardenr uses lots to combat my non-watering during the other days. Will report the results when I get the bill.

Anonymous said...

We didn't do nearly as well as I'd hoped, but we have made some lasting changes around here. I'm hoping we can continue to work on this!

I just put up a post detailing how we did with the challenge.

Jenn said...

1. No plastic: I joined a CSA and it seems like half the stuff they send me is in plastic bags! Pretty much the only trash I throw in the garbage can this day consists of plastic bags and non-recyclable plastic bits (and cat poop in compostable bags). I did avoid buying things packaged in plastic but have yet to figure out a way around putting bulk flour in plastic bags (pillow cases? what do y'all use for bulk produce?)

2. No paper products: I won't give up TP - I don't go through it very fast. I am very proud to announce that I got people to use cloth napkins and towels at my party - that was about 40 people and they either wiped their hands on their own clothes (drummers) or used cloth napkins/towels (Yes, I have a lot of them). Nary a paper towel or napkin was used at my party.

3. No driving: I think I did pretty well - I only fired up the car once a week to my best recollection. I ought to go fill it up before gas goes up even more than the current $4.30/gal.

4. Local food only: Aside from what was already in my cabinet (mmmmmaple sugar frosting), I bought mostly local food. I confess to buying some spring water (yes, plastic and not local) but did join a CSA. Some friends brought me a big bunch of collards as a table arrangement at my party (I finally ate them last night).

5. No garbage output: Very small - like I noted above, just non-recyclable plastic and the stray plastic bags that now find their way into my home.

6. No excessive water use: I take short showers. I put in a garden and have to water it - but this time am watering directly on each plant instead of running the soaker hose. I might have to get a drip system but that's a TON of plastic and not cheap (thoughts?).

7. No electricity: I did pull out my solar lantern and used that for light a few times. It's light until after 8pm now - I make sure to shut off appliances and computers when I leave the house so my usage is still pretty low. I don't use the electric dryer (ugh) but do use the washing machine - I don't have the time to wash all my clothes by hand.

Sam said...

I got hung up on the plastic. I have been working on reducing plastic for over a year but not with the same intensity as FPF or Envirowoman. But...this was still hard. The farmers market has cheese that comes wrapped in plastic. If it comes with wax its too expensive for me since its sold by the pound. This is still a progress which is moving along at a snail's pace.

When my husband worked as a nurse he was astounded at how much plastic waste was generated at hospitals. I heard that some hospitals are testing out the idea of using glass and metal equipment and sterilizing them for reuse w/ consent of patients. I think this is a good idea.

2. No paper products: I've stopped my WSJ subscription and husband is the only TP user in the household.

3. No driving: After not driving for a year, I drove. Alot. For personal reasons to a location COMPLETELY inaccessible by car/public transit. A bicycle ride would take me an entire day to get there considering how slow I am.

4. Local food only: This was a success. I still eat grains and beans that aren't local but organic. But we've made a huge push toward eating more locally.

5. No garbage output: Like yourself its about the same as normal. Except we pick up trash on our block because people here are messy.

6. No excessive water use: Since we've begun using grey water to flush out toilet, we had a huge drop and then we've stayed the same.

7. No electricity: I used less electricity than last month, but not as less as I had planned to.

This was a fun challenge. Thanks for coming up with it.

Robj98168 said...

I didn't join in this challenge because I knew I coudn't do it!
I am how ever, getting pretty good at local food only. What ewith the local Farmers Market opeen now, I have discovered leeks! I make a mean leek soup!

Crunchy Chicken said...

Ellen - thanks for the reminder... I need to get back into saving my warm up water. Although since we're having torrential rains today, it wouldn't help much.

Rob - I'll be over on Thursday for dinner. What's a good time?

Robj98168 said...

anytime is a good time- remeber i work from 2pm until 11pm LOL Now i have to go to the market and get some leeks!I''l have to make some beer bread too

Kerry said...

Plastic is still here - every bit was recyclable though and I'm considering making my own soy wax based waxed paper now.

I did manage to not put out any garbage or recycling last week, just the composter.

I signed up for paper and failed - the kids are still drawing and painting, I did move my daily notes etc into a tiny notebook and I'm going to return to papermaking with the kids (the paper we recycle isn't acid free so I can't use it for my art cause I couldn't sell it if it was going to fall apart!)

I didn't drive at all, but my partner has an hour commute to work every day - he will be finding a job closer to home - the ist comes out june 10th. My dream is that he'll get a job at my daughter's school but in the jr high, and they can walk together...but he's not so sure about that :-)

I've been excellent about the water though! AND the kids and I found a hand pump for water in our local biodiversity park attached to the university - once I check to see if it is drinkable we're going to do an experiment in just using water from it. Its about a km away when you count all the trails and the return trip.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're back, too. I bombed during eco month. I wasn't worse than usual, but I wasn't much better, either. We bought local olive oil, vinegar, honey, goat cheese, and produce, but we still ate oats, bread, and soy milk. I cut down on photocopies...and that's about it. I unplugged everything but the frigo before going to bed one night, but my husband has to work on weekends, and he wasn't having the computer off. Ah well. I think it would have been better if I had focused on one thing instead of sampling from each category.

Laura Kaeding said...

Your challenge was very eye opening, and despite that I didn't sign up for this one officially, I did make some personal changes. I have been unplugging and switching off my powerbars and other assorted plug ins, to help save electricity usage. I am trying to this of an effective way to air dry clothing that won't leave them with a line through the middle from draping them over my shower bar. I have managed to shorten my showers to 15-20 minutes, and don't let the water run to heat up before hand. I have also purchased a tomato plant for my balcony, in hopes that my brown thumb will not kill it off.
You are an inspiration, and I'm glad that you don't feel the pressure as much now that you've let yourself post "as necessary" instead of on a schedule. Best of luck, I hope to read more everyday.