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Archive for January, 2009

One area that everyone in the West needs to address is water usage. We in the West are profligate wasters of potable water. Beyond the use of potable water to drink and cook with, we use it for washing our cars, washing our clothes, washing our bodies, washing our dirty dishes, flushing away our bodily wastes, watering our lawn, watering our plants and gardens, and many other uses.

greengroupOnly 5% of all potable water is used for food preparation, the rest is used for other purposes in the home. You only need about 8 cups of water per day to stay healthy, and you get a good portion of that from the food you eat. Every time you flush the toilet, you say goodbye to 1.6 to 2.1 gallons of drinking water. Which, if you pardon the pun, is a waste.

Public and domestic usage of freshwater in Washington State represents about 24% of all our freshwater supplies, compared to the national average of 12% of the total freshwater supplies. The biggest use of freshwater nation wide is in thermoelectric generation, primarily for cooling purposes, and it is about 48% of freshwater resources. Because we have a lot of hydroelectric power generation in the Northwest, we only use about 10% of our freshwater for cooling.

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So, if you’re like me and live in an apartment, what can you do to live more sustainably? Well for one thing, as an apartment dweller, you are already living sustainably. By living in an apartment, you are making the best use of our limited supply of land in the Puget Sound.

My apartment is 900 square feet, and I’m at the bottom of a three-story building. So right there those 900 square feet are supporting three times the population that they normally would. So yes, you can feel good about being an apartment dweller because of that.

However, if you live like the average American, well, that’s not so good. The average American produces 4.54 pounds of solid waste everyday. Of this, only 32% – 35% of this waste is recycled. 44% of what goes into our garbage is paper, cardboard and plastics. (Municipal Solid Waste In The United States: 2007 Facts And Figures) Therefore that’s the first thing you can do to reduce your footprint on this world:

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One way I’ve found to live sustainably, even a little bit green, is to cook only using local ingredients as much as I can. During the summer it’s fairly easy, as I can shop the various farmers markets here in the Puget Sound area for local produce, meat, eggs, even salmon and halibut.

Delicious beef stew

Delicious beef stew

 

 

But it’s winter and all those fresh veggies are not available locally. So one must adapt and change. My CSA, Spud.com, does a good job in providing locally grown fruits and vegetables, but right now the pickings are kind of slim. Lots of potatoes and onions, some parsnips, and leeks. But not much else.

That means I have to look back in history for a pointer: Cook for the season. So that means soups and stews with meat and potatoes. Luckily Spud.com does have access to local meat through Thundering Hooves, allowing me to still eat locally. So here’s a quick little recipe for a simple winter’s beef stew:

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I was born in 1960, back when TV was still black and white. I remember when we got our first color RCA television and marveled at all the color pictures. It also was the golden age of the Space Age. We were in Space! We were going to the Moon! Nothing was impossible, we just needed to throw technology at the problem!

Today, well, we need solutions to the problems that I and my parents, and my parents’ parents created. Technology is still needed, just not the big manly technology of the mid 20th century, but a more sustainable type of technology, one that reuses what we have instead of using it just once and then throwing it away.

Its not going to be easy, we have a lot of the 20th century’s mistakes still with us. Take my apartment for example. It was built in 1978 by three different contractors, and doesn’t meet any of the current building codes for multifamily residences. It does have new energy efficient windows, which has helped in reducing heat loss, though I think that the walls need more insulation.

I could move to a greener apartment, but they are typically smaller and way more expensive, and I like my community. I am part of its political scene, so I have less incentive to move to a green apartment. So do what I can to keep my bills low, I belong to Spud.com, a CSA-like online grocery, I drive a Honda Reflex, it gets 60 MPG, and I grow plants to green up my section of the apartment complex. And as I said, I’m part of my local political scene, letting the Kenmore, Washington, city council know that sustainable and green living and technology is something that we need to promote in our city.

So the purpose of this blog is to chart my attempts to sway the people in Kenmore to think green and to protect the environment of our city. As well as my thoughts on the green movement in general.

So come with me and we explore our future in a sustainable future.

By the way, this post is made of 100% recycled electrons.

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