Rioting in December 08
1. Gasoline Average American usage is 500 gallons PER PERSON, PER YEAR. A 90 percent reduction would be 50 gallons PER PERSON, PER YEAR.
I’m not really tracking our usage since J. has a 1 1/2 hour commute each way and I travel throughout the northeast for work. I know our numbers will be sky high. In the past two months we’ve been very good about non-work related driving but this past month we didn’t do as well. We had to drive to family parties and then when family came to visit us we took them sight seeing. January we will get back to normal.
2. Electricity. Average US usage is 11,000 kwh PER HOUSEHOLD, PER YEAR, or about 900 kwh PER HOUSEHOLD PER MONTH. A 90% reduction would mean using 1,100 PER HOUSEHOLD, PER YEAR or 90 kwh PER HOUSEHOLD PER MONTH.
Last month we used 172 kwh and this month it was 253 kwh. I’m hanging my head in shame… I know it is still way lower than the average household but… A lot of this was the number of house guests we had as well as Christmas lights. Today the tree is coming down and the guests are all gone so hopefully this number will at least go back to last month’s usage.
3. Heating and Cooking Energy – this is divided into 3 categories, gas, wood and oil. Your household probably uses one of these, and they are not interchangeable. If you use an electric stove or electric heat, this goes under electric usage.
Natural Gas (this is used by the vast majority of US households as heating and cooking fuel). For this purpose, Propane will be calculated as the same as natural gas. Calculations in therms should be available from your gas provider. US Average Natural Gas usage is 1000 therms PER HOUSEHOLD, PER YEAR. A 90% reduction would mean a reduction to 100 therms PER HOUSEHOLD PER YEAR.
Last month we used 34 therms and this month we used 35.24 therms. Two months ago we only used 11 therms so it’s pretty obvious that despite keep the heat at 55-60 using it all has a huge impact.
4. 4. Garbage – the average American generates about 4.5 lbs of garbage PER PERSON, PER DAY. A 90% reduction would mean .45 lbs of garbage PER PERSON, PER DAY.
We end up with about 10 lbs every 2-3 weeks. My goal last month was to reduce our recycling and I would say that was a success. Despite Christmas and additional house guests our amount of regular garbage staid steady and we had a 1/3 less recycling. In January we will see a small increase because we are finally getting around to cleaning out the basement. Most of will be sold or donated but some of it (stuff my husband has kept around since grade school) is going to end up as trash or recycle.
5. Water. The Average American uses 100 Gallons of water PER PERSON, PER DAY. A 90% reduction would mean 10 gallons PER PERSON, PER DAY.
We were at this goal, with house guests showering everyday I’m sure this went way up. I don’t have a problem explaining recycling or composting but I do have a hard time telling my parents or in laws they should only shower every other day and could they please limit it to 5 minutes…
6. Consumer Goods. The best metric I could find for this is using money. A Professor at Syracuse University calculates that as an average, every consumer dollar we spend puts .5 lbs of carbon into the atmosphere. This isn’t perfect, of course, but it averages out pretty well. The average American spends 10K PER HOUSEHOLD, PER YEAR on consumer goods, not including things like mortgage, health care, debt service, car payments, etc… Obviously, we recommend you minimize those things to the extent you can, but what we’re mostly talking about is things like gifts, toys, music, books, tools, household goods, cosmetics, toiletries, paper goods, etc… A 90% cut would be 1,000 dollars PER HOUSEHOLD, PER YEAR.
I don’t see us ever meeting this goal but in December we significantly decreased our Christmas spending and still got really thoughtful and useful gifts for everyone. This year we are going to commit to buying more local and used products.
Our Christmas was probably 50% local but all the meals we served over Christmas were also 50% local so it’s actually an improvement over previous months.
All things considered I’m really proud of us. Over the next year we’d like to make some more changes to live a greener life, in fact at least half our gifts from other people were books. We want to build a solar food dryer and a solar oven, purchased a pressure cooker and start canning. I also want to start sewing. I don’t see myself making our clothes but I want to be able to complete basic mending, hemming, and patching.
How well did you do maintaining a green lifestyle in the face of holiday excess? What skills do want to learn or hone this year?