Y174: Year Half Over

I imagined back in December that at this halfway mark, 26 weeks into this challenge, I would be presenting my stats on the reductions I have made in electricity use, water, fuel etc. Yes, I envisioned some tidy list. But, when I even start cataloging these statistics in my own mind, I find it bores me. Yeah, yeah, 230 kWh yada, yada . . .

I learned this morning that if this whole thing were the lists, the stats in my imagination, this would be called a listicle.

Listicle n. a (newspaper, magazine, web site, etc.) article consisting primarily of a list.

What the hell, why not just continue in the list tradition. In looking back I find since January 2008 I had lists about stuff to purge, appliances, myths in America, my favorite blogs and internet strengths, visioning exercise questions, MLK volunteering challenges, ecofreak challenges, cleansing food and cleaning supplies.

This is what I wrote the first week of January:
What am I doing in the next year that will help with global warming – clearing the befouled air, that halo of atmosphere?
  • Water I use
  • Gas I burn driving
  • Electrical energy I use
  • Factory made food I consume
  • Food from outside local area
  • Factory products I consume
  • Waste I produce
  • Paper & Cardboard (or compost)
  • Glass
  • Fabric
  • Plastic
  • Cloth shopping bags
  • Cloth napkins
  • Cloth hankies
  • Cloth wipes
  • Glass jars

Six weeks prior to today’s halfway mark listicle I felt the need to review where I was at with this general list. It is a thorough review without list specifics or many statistics. And this was done prior to my list of telephone, television, truck and internet elimination. Correction. Although elimination is a word I would prefer to use, reduction or change or substitution are each words better suited to what I hope to accomplish before the end of July. I will be eliminating costs while retaining usage in new ways.

Lists are a part of a small fraction of every month’s posts. In February I had a jump in posts on design and feminism, while lists were incorporated in my posts on decomposition rates for garbage, the dirty dozen products to keep out of the home, the major phone companies’ sins (including spying), electrical usage statistics, diets don’t work, global grocery bill comparisons, girlie goop, and a list of stuff white people like. Note: not included in the last list, but ironically one of the recent things documented at Stuff White People Like . . . You guessed it, statistics.

By March I all but eliminated lists. Indeed I only had two lists 1) quiz questions for television electricity usage and 2) losses. In April I listed worm attributes, Fauxgressive or anti-feminist despite list, cost of living items from the 60’s, old white men's hit list and all my slipped patterns / habits due to community projects. May’s lists were major. Besides the year to date review and the elimination post already mentioned. I will be reissuing my 26 item 2nd half of the year purge list soon.

This month of June ending tomorrow had some statistics on a manual pump and was followed by the list from Grist called How to talk to a Climate Skeptic. This is a cornucopia of a list too.

So, I started this year with my step one priority baselines of usage. These were the Riot for Austerity numbers with the American averages and the 90% reduction numbers alongside.

In the broadest sense, I have reduced electrical, water usage and have minimal trash. I just don’t buy things. My only purchases besides the solar oven, manual washer, toilet sink and food storage containers have been at the thrift store. Cleaning products, personal products, all paper goods and most plastics are gone. My fossil fuel usage is next to nothing and my food is primarily local. But even with these giant steps forward, the last half of this year will bring some serious eliminations, reductions and reuse/retrofits.

At this point I think I will continue with only the occasional list. I would love to generate some charts, just because it is geeky and I might have fun finally learning more mastery over the MS chart function. (Microsoft and mastery in the same sentence is oxymoronic, besides geeky.)

Thing is, I know myself well enough to know that on some day in the future I will be riveted by the numbers and want to get it all onto an excel spreadsheet. Yikes, I just can’t imagine right now why the fuck it seems worthy when the thought of it strikes me as more than a bit obsessive.

In part I believe that I have become critical of my own tendency to think what I am doing is special. I know better. There are people doing what I am doing much more completely, creatively, educationally, etc. I value this experience for my sake and it’s not for nothing. My angst is this; I am wobbly about what part of all this matters beyond my own musings.

Coffee mug via Despair, Inc


Melinda said...

"My angst is this; I am wobbly about what part of all this matters beyond my own musings."

Inspiring others, darling, inspiring others!

I have completely neglected my Riot numbers for the last couple of months, under the guise that I've been waiting for all the bills to come in after the move. (Hm, that should be 1 month of waiting, where I've neglected my #s for 4...)

But when I do post them, I think it inspires others to see that we can live a relatively normal life while reducing our carbon impact substantially.

Without my inspiring a few people and you inspiring a few people, we're never going to turn around this horrible mess we've gotten ourselves into....

My, I'm optimistic today!

katecontinued said...

I am emphatically inspired by you. And, despite my wobbles and woes and despite the half empty image, I am optimistic overall.

I just now watched Naomi Klein and Tom Hayden talking in one of Robert Greenwald's This Brave Nation series. If you haven't seen these Melinda, check them out.

And thank you for your vote of confidence and more. Your recent summarizing posts were an inspiration to look back through the last 6 months.

Rosa said...

Note: not included in the last list, but ironically one of the recent things documented at Stuff White People Like . . . You guessed it, statistics.

I wonder if that's an education system thing, that if you buy into the education system you've learned not to trust what you know until it's documented with statistics and measurements (I exempt graphs because they're *fun* - do you ever look at graphjam?)

My boy & I have completely different styles of decisionmaking. I look around and think "That is using electricity and we're not using it, I'm going to unplug it" he thinks "I wonder if it's worth the effort, I'm not going to waste my time if it doesn't make a *real* difference"

Once we (he) got the KillaWatt and could *measure* how much electricity different things saved, then he became willing to unplug a number of things I had been bugging him about for months. But it took the measurements to make him really believe it.

(He got it for me, because I kept talking about conserving energy and he thought I'd like it. But only he uses it.)

katecontinued said...

Rosa, I just wrote about the Kill-a-Watt in our Park Newsletter this week. I have a dollar stretching column that allows me to introduce sustainability issues along with frugality. Anyway, this week it was about vampire power and I included a picture of the Kill-a-Watt with the question, would everyone care to spend $.50 each and we could buy one for the Park. No takers. Feh.

I think you are right about the education model, but the patriarchal aspect is integreal IMO. So often licensing, testing, etc. was (is) more about ways to exclude than truly 'measuring' one's qualifications. Lots of hoop jumping for we who want to make a point or break down barriers.

Chile said...

I agree with Melinda. (Surprise, I can be optimistic, too! *grin*) No matter how much or how little any one person does, the fact that they do anything at all is key. You have done far more than most people. Perhaps it doesn't always appear this way in the very limited group of people making up the "green blogosphere" (for lack of a better phrase) but don't discount your efforts, changes, and impact.

PS: I absolutely love the website with the pessimistic mug. Thanks for posting the image!

Rosa said...

Exactly - the more valued you are by the system, the easier it is to buy into the system and its values.

Not that there aren't other things going on too, but I do see that in my (white, straight, male, math-inclined, middle-class) partner.

Melinda said...

Kate, OMG... First off, I was offered a job to edit some of these in LA, just as I was leaving. It almost kept me in LA. Weird, eh? One of those moments where I wonder what would have happened...

Thank you for saying such nice things. We inspire each other. ; ) That's what it's all about here, I suppose!

This week I'll spend some time watching the series. Thanks for pointing me there.