It’s that time of year when we all vow to purge our weaknesses and get back to the business of doing the right thing. While 2007 was a pretty good year for me in the scheme of the last decade, still there are myriad ways to improve. I thought I’d share a few of the things I intend to do in 2008 to be a more environmentally conscious being. While living in an off-the-grid solar house with no electric company and no gas powered vehicles is a start, there is always a long way to go to lighten the proverbial footprint. For starters I intend to:
1. Grow More of Our Own
Over the last three years, my wife Nancy and I have worked hard to make our homestead more self sufficient. We now grow all of our own olive trees for all the oil we can use, we’ve got grapes started to cover our wine needs, we have a new beehive for honey, and lots of mature fruit trees. To go one step further, this year we’re planning to minimize our grocery store purchases by growing more of our own vegetables. We’re going to plant popcorn, more garlic, more greens like kale and brassicas, enough tomatoes to can for next winter, and we’ve filled the greenhouse with lettuce plants to get us through until it warms up in the Spring. This should minimize the trips to the grocery store.
2. Drive Less
In 2006 I drove 12,000 miles in my biodiesel VW Jetta. It’s always gratifying to fill up at the home tank instead of having to go to fossil fuel gas stations. But still, 12,000 miles is a lot and biodiesel or not, it’s a huge footprint. I’m setting a modest goal of reducing my driving to 10,000 miles this year, which will make a small but significant impact.
3. Kill the Phantom Loads
Our off-the-grid home has a computer with satellite Internet connectivity and a television on satellite dish, as well as alarm clocks and various other appliances that tend to stay on all the time. When you live on solar, these phantom loads are huge and can suck up half of the power you collect from the sun on any given day in the winter. In 2008 we’ve unplugged all these loads and put them on power strips. No need to have the TV in constant standby mode just so your remote will work and no need to have that computer and modem on 24/7 drawing 500 watts just so you can check your email at a moment’s notice. So, gone are the phantom loads — and our battery system loves it.
These are a few small things our household has resolved to do in 2008 to lessen our footprint. Post a comment below to send in your ideas and add to my list. Little by little, we can all make a big difference.
For the Earth,