Archive for April 2, 2007

Where we are

(Oh how I love double meanings….)

I figure I should explain a little about the contexts that surround this blog. Despite the fact that I got my inspiration from a series of American (and Canadian) blogs , I have to point out that this is NOT an American blog. This is a blog grounded in my reality and environmental experiences, which are deeply related to living in the Netherlands.

And still, I feel a connection to the American blogsphere, not only because it was the source of my inspiration but also because my boyfriend is American, and like it or not, I know that at some point in the near-midterm future we will be relocating to the US. I know that at that point, I will have some serious adjusting to do, together with my green lifestyle policies, and, accordingly, with this blog.

But now for a brief explanation of what living in the Netherlands implies for our lifestyle, and what is the current status of our struggle towards sustainability.

Transport:First of all, the country is tiny… and flat. We live in tiny town. We don’t have a car. There are cycling paths on every street. Cycling is the main form of transport around our tiny town, and that’s what we do. There are special saddle bags on the bag of our bikes which allow us to carry a surprising amount of groceries. And for outside town, the public transport service is pretty good. So the transport part is already as green as it gets here, so I won’t be talking much about that. Flying, however, is a problem, with such an internationally scattered life, but I will get back to this some other time.

Consumption: We always bring our own bags for shopping. Especially because grocery bags cost 20 E cts in most places. But I have to admit that sometimes I get small plastic bags (that are free) because I use them to scoop out kitty dumplings out of the litter box… I am currently looking into tackling this problem. Other than that, I also have to say that I have been, inadvertently, following the Compact buy nothing principle. I haven’t bought anything since Xmas… This was, for me, a source of consumer depression for a while but I’m over that now that is fits so nicely into our newly acquired reduced consumption goals.

Food: Regarding food, we have been, generally, going for organic stuff, except when organic is WAY out of budget. I still haven’t decided weather I want to go for “local” in this place. Consider that this super-small, overcrowded country is the third largest exporter of agricultural products in the world. I don’t even want to think about what they do to their food here, but I will mention that there are ongoing rumours about horse meat in meat products and sugar injections into strawberries. I will investigate into local vs. organic further on, but I have to say that for now my preconceived judgement prefers tomatoes transported from Spain…

Energy: A lot of wasting in this department, you can have a look at The List. Last time I changed a light-bulb I bought a CFL. Other than that, all the other lights are the regular type… and I’m not going to change them unless they burn out. The house is rented and I don’t expect to be here long enough for CFLs to “pay for themselves”. We don’t have a drier. We merrily hang our clothes on the balcony and the laundry rack when its cold. I’ve never known any other way to dry clothes…

Water: Let’s see… I share showers a lot 😀 the toilet has flush control and we don’t own a dishwasher, for better or for worse.

Heating: Its central. We have been abusing it a little, especially because the landlords don’t send us the bills. But its spring now and we have been cutting down on it.

Waste: We recycle all of our paper and glass… No plastic or metal, sadly, because they don’t have collection for that.

So there… that’s about all there is to know about the environmental conditions of our little household.

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April 2, 2007 at 2:25 pm 2 comments

Declaration of Principles

Now that sustainability experiments are sprawling at nearly every virtual corner, why not have a go as well? Maybe the originality factor is long gone by now, but hey, the less CO2 the merrier.

Here we set out to live as sustainably as possible, on a measly student budget. So keeping things sensible and economical is the key. We are just a couple of plain, lazy and cheap environment students. We are not about to go to any extremes like giving up toilet paper or olive oil… or TV. Maybe if I had a book deal I would too…

The reasoning behind this experiment is that, a lot of times, reducing your consumption of random useless stuff, together with your consumption of resources is not only better for the environment, it is also better for your wallet. And if we want to have more money to spend on organic, local and fair trade, we can. It is just a matter of redistribution. Save on your bills, buy better food.

The rules we will be following throughout this ordeal:

  1. Reduce our consumption of resources as much as we can (energy, water, etc.)
  2. Reduce our consumption, period. Buy less stuff, produce less waste.
  3. Quantify! Have a true sense of how much waste we are avoiding, how much resources we are sparing, how much money we are avoiding.
  4. Conscious environmental choices. To determine when we should buy local or organic, or both, case by case, in our situation.
  5. Replace eco-nasty products for eco-friendly ones as needed. I decided I’m not going to create more waste by not using what I already have.

Now that the rules are down and we know where we stand, I will make The List of all my environmental bad deeds, and start working on my Environmental Karma.

April 2, 2007 at 2:24 pm Leave a comment


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