Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Beyond the Day

How ironic that, in the last few weeks, it was on Earth Day and its weekend that we used our car the most.  It was that darn rain that shouldn’t have kept me off the bicycle but did (I’m not being so wimpy about the wet and wild weather this week) and various family Easter gatherings that led to more than 150 miles of driving.  Yeesh.  And gas prices were nearing $4.30 in our neck of the woods and even higher near the city.

But, one good thing that came from all that fuel-burning (besides all the food we ate and the quality time spent with loved ones, of course) was that we passed a billboard for Earth Hour.  Remember that?  It was in March.  I told you to participate.  The billboard said, “This Earth Hour, go beyond the hour.” That means regularly unplugging your electronics when you’re not using them.  Turning off the lights when you leave a room (like, duh).

We’ve been unplugging our TV, digital converter, and DVD player, which are conveniently connected to one power strip, as well as our amplified antenna (rabbit ears you can plug in to boost their reception), before we go to bed at night and just anytime we’re not watching a show.  We also unplug the microwave and coffee maker whenever they are not actively heating or brewing something for us.  It means when we do use them, they don’t display the right time, but how many digital clocks do we need in the kitchen, anyway?  And, of course, of course, if we’re not charging the cell phones, the chargers are not plugged in!  Yes, the chargers suck energy even when they’re not charging something.

A fun experiment is to watch your electric meter outside and see how the speed of the numbers rolling along changes when you run (or don’t run) certain things in the house.  Len was watching ours slowly count our kilowatts when it spun a little faster for a few seconds.  “What just happened?” he asked. “What did you change?”  It was our fridge cycling on.  Interesting.  Well, interesting for nerds like us.

So that’s taking Earth Hour beyond the hour.  What about taking Earth Day beyond the day?  Lots of people already are.  Lots people still need to.  And, what that means to each person is different.  Maybe organic gardening, public transportation, rain barrels, eating only local produce.  

For us, it means the trash can is a last resort, it means bicycling in the rain so we don’t have to use the car, it means stirring the compost more frequently in anticipation of a vegetable garden, and it means hanging the laundry out to dry...just as soon as it warms up and stops raining.  It could mean more, though.  Water conservation, to name one category, is something we need to work on.  We're not complete water gluttons, taking 30-minute showers, watering a vast lawn twice day, but it's an area in need of improvement.  Future post?

What does it mean to you to take Earth Day beyond the day?  What more could it mean to you?

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