Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Three months down

It's a little crazy to think that a quarter of a year has gone by since I started the Riot for Austerity 90% Emissions Reduction Challenge! Here's where I stand after three months:

On a daily basis, we are still use 90% less (or perhaps even less) than the average American uses. I haven't actually been keeping track since my primary form of transportation is the bus or the metro, and I don't even use them everyday. I am going to go on a number of trips in the last few months of this year, however, so this is one area where my "progress" is about to do a 180.
Three-month status: On a daily basis, we use 90% less than the average American uses.

I said in my baseline post that we are allowed 90 kwH per month. I only get an electric bill once every two months, so the last bill I got was two months ago, and I was holding steady at my baseline figure of 125 kwH per month. However, since then, I have reread the rules of this challenge and noted that hydro-powered electricity users are allowed four times the standard allotment. Wikipedia (a site that would never lie, right?) says that 97% of the energy Hydro-Québec produces is, well, hydroelectric. So if 97% of my 90 kwH gets to be tripled, my goal is actually 265 kwH per month, which I am way under. I have made some electricity-saving changes around the apartment, so I am anxious to see my next electricity bill. I would still really like to hit 90 kwH per month.
Three-month status: Still waiting for the bill! The last time I got the bill, we used 95% (with hydro bonus applied) less than the average American uses.

When I did the baseline calculations, I decided that we should only be allowed 10% of the 90% allotment in this category because we only get billed for our cooking energy. I think I was being hard on myself, but I also don't have any more specific numbers about how much of this should go for cooking and how much for heating. Because we can't control our heat, I'm going to just throw up my hands and say we can have the entire 23.5 cubic meters per month. But I'm also not really going to count this category since it is compromised. I'm going to go for steady progress rather than a number goal. This is a hard one for us since we do a lot of cooking from scratch. Beer brewing also takes up gigantic amounts of energy in this category.
Three-month status: For cooking alone, we use 93% less than the average American uses.

Our scale has been getting finicky lately, and it doesn't like heavy things, so I haven't been able to weigh our garbage or recycling. I have been reusing plastic bags more diligently and thinking hard about each container I recycle, trying to reuse it. I can't do much about the paper. I started a worm composting bin, but I still end up throwing out way more organic matter than I would like. When I have large amounts of it (after preserving foods or brewing beer) I take it to a friend's house where there is a proper compose pile.
Three-month status: Not sure. Still too much waste. :(

This one is harder than I thought it would be, especially because textbooks are expensive! Here's how we did, with deductions in place:
June: $98 (88% less than average)
July: $277 (67% less than average)
August: $207 (75% less than average)
Three-month status: We spent 77% less than the average American.

This is a hard category too. We buy a lot of stuff in the third (non-local, non-bulk) category. And we cook from scratch for most of our meals, so it's not as though we're buying lots of processed, pre-packaged food. We just seem to buy a lot of ingredients that we can't get (or haven't figured out how yet) locally or in bulk. Our CSA has certainly helped us improve in the local category. I've also started buying more dry stuff in bulk. This past week we hardly bought anything in category three, so maybe we are doing better.
Three-month status: This is only a guess. 55% local, 15% bulk, 30% everything else.


louese said...

good for you little d, and keep up the good work! i do have a question/challenge for you though: you are doing much better than your brethren down south, but how are you stacking up compared to your maple leaf comrades?

inquiring minds want to know.


Danica said...

That's a very good question and one that I can't answer. I couldn't find stats for Canada in all the categories, and since the stats for the US are already written for me in the rules, I went with those. I am American, after all. But you are right: it would be cool to do this with Canadian numbers. I would guess that the numbers aren't actually all that much different.