Riot Update…Oink


Yes. It turns out I am still a consumer piggie. But a cute one, no? About 2 months ago I took the Riot challenge to see where my little family ranked. Beany’s post last week reminded me that it was time for a little checkup. Turns out the consumer snout and curly tail remain, but it is a slightly less electrified and garbage producing snout.

Transportation …about the same. Was…12%. Now 13%. Nothing has changed so I am guessing it is the same. We will fly this summer, which is not included. Plus we will be taking several long car trips which is also not included. Although this could be better, it hasn’t been my primary focus.

Electricity… happy days. Was…50%. Now…29%. Now not only is our usage less than two months ago, we compared it to the same time last year and it was down 25%. Cool beans, no? We made two changes. One was switch to about 70% CFLs. Naked bulbs still get the oldies. We do plan to try, however, some LEDs to see if they aren’t so harsh for the exposed bulbs. The second thing we did was start pulling plugs. We try to pull the plug on anything with a clock, chargers, non-essentials. We are looking to improve this by getting a green switch board with a remote. Fancy, no? I promise to do a review once we have it installed. We also have to consider our building’s electrical use, which is difficult to calculate without access to the bills. We could & should be more active in board meetings to encourage more conservation. Fortunately, since electrical waste translates directly into money waste, this is an area the board actively tries to improve upon.

Heating & Water…????. I am guessing we use less than average but more than desired. These things are all tied into our maintenance so I can’t really give a real number.

Garbage …we’re getting better. Was…31%. Now…22% . For only two months I think that is a notable improvement. Biggest change is simply paying more attention to packaging. We also have been more organized with our reuse of packaging like using tortilla bags for lunches verses taking a new zippy. (I just realized yesterday that we haven’t bought a new box of zippys in months.) The other cool thing here is we JUST STARTED composting, meaning that reduction has yet to be calculated. I am guessing in another two months we will be able to shave a few more pounds of our garbage fat. (The composting is going a little slower than expected. Lazy worms. More on that tom.)

Consumer Goods… can I just say I TOTALLY disagree with this calculation. Was over 100% and still is over 100%. But…I have not separated my business expenses. I pretty much just went by the credit card bill. I have made this point about a 1000 times, but I will rant one more time just for fun. I would argue that we pay more but actually buy LESS stuff than the average family. Calculating your footprint by dollars spent does not work. We try to buy things that are RESPONSIBLY and WELL made. This often means paying more for an item. One organic cotton shirt can cost the same as 5-10 cheap child labor shirts that won’t last a single wash. Which has a bigger foot? Okay…we don’t buy used. That is more of a time issue…but it could be looked at a little more closely. We also don’t do a lot of sacrificing on nonessentials that we enjoy…like wine. Haven’t worked out my take on this one yet.

Food… Getting better. Was… 25% local/sustainable, 1% bulk, 75% the rest. Now… 30%/5%/65%. Now here is poop. I am completely guesstimating. During the winter I buy almost nothing local…but a lot of organic which I am guessing counts as sustainable. (I’m not sure where traveling organic fits in. Any thoughts?) I have started baking my own bread and other baked goods which has increased my bulk goods a little. The CSA distribution starts in a couple of weeks which should up the local numbers, but since I am counting organic in with my local already I’m not sure the veggies alone will change my actual food numbers. Expanding the CSA to include CSA Pastured Meat & Poultry would be huge. In all honesty, I really should be seeking out a local dairy, but I haven’t. (Cheap Like Me had a great little milk review link if you are looking to improve your dairy source.) It is on my ever growing little green TO-DO list.

To summarize…electricity and garbage are headed in the right direction and actively moving with current and future projects. Transportation, water, heating, and consumer goods are at a standstill. Now food will be our next main focus. We really have to examine our diet a little more closely,create some actual plans, and make more of an effort to seek out local over convenient. Oh…gotta go. I hear some slacking going on in the worm bin. What guys….is that a hungry robin knocking at the door? Why yes Mr. Robin we do have some rather sluggish worms.

14 Responses to “Riot Update…Oink”

  1. Added by Jen on May 13th, 2008 at 9:54 am

    This may sound weird, but I have a bunch (10 to be exact) of globe-shaped CFLs I got for my bathroom but they don’t fit. I’ve been meaning to Freecycle them but never got around to it. Would you like some? They are these:

    I could probably take them to the CSA pick-up or something. I would love to get them out of my pantry. The base is normal lightbulb sized.

  2. Added by Green Bean on May 13th, 2008 at 10:11 am

    Looking pretty dang good for only two months on the Riot. I’d kill for the transportation numbers.

  3. Added by arduous on May 13th, 2008 at 11:42 am

    Well you really do need to be separating your business expenses.

    Here’s the thing. If you are buying organic cotton fabric to turn into organic cotton coffee filters, and then say Burbs goes and buys coffee filters from you, then Burbs is putting that coffee filter into HER numbers. Which they are. They’re not yours.

    I wouldn’t put wine in consumer goods. It’s more of a food/drink thing, and considering that Michael Pollan advocates having a glass of wine at dinner, I think you’re okay there.

    Consumer goods are durable goods. I think Riot even mentions that toilet paper and such shouldn’t be counted against consumer goods. So go back through your credit card, and come up with the amount you spent on durable goods that weren’t for your business, and I think you’ll be a lot happier.

  4. Added by heather t on May 13th, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    “using tortilla bags for lunches verses taking a new zippy.”

    **thunk** That’s my head hitting the desk. Why didn’t I think of this one?

  5. Added by Heather on May 13th, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I also save those plastic bags on the inside of the cereal boxes. I just cut the top and bottom off then cut up the middle to make it like one big sheet of wax paper. They are great for separating slices of bread or cheese in the freezer, or to wrap a sandwich up at lunch.

  6. Added by organicneedle on May 13th, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Jen…thanks…let me take a look and see if they would fit.

    Green Bean…don’t be jealous. Mine should be even lower considering where I live.

    Arduous…I love your thinking about the wine. I do need to take a much closer look at where the money is going…just being a little lazy on this one. I am sure even when all is said and done I won’t be anywhere near respectable levels.

    heather t…the tortilla bags make perfect zippies.

    Heather…yes…I leave the cereal bags intact and use them for sandwiches too. It is great for pb&j because I find I can never get a second use out of a bag that has had pb in it. Better to use one headed for the bin already.

  7. Added by Beany on May 13th, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    I don’t like the way riot calculates the consumer goods either. I’m willing to pay more for good made in the U.S. under good conditions thus doing my itty bitty bit for the trade deficit…but that isn’t taken into consideration per the riot rules.

    IIRC, the riot rules were based in part on Monbiot’s book (?). Personally, I find Monbiot to be a bit of a downer (gloom and doom, the sky is falling type) and I haven’t bothered to read his stuff. Maybe if someone else is brave enough to read his work, they could shed light on his original 95% recommendation.

  8. Added by Allie on May 13th, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    You know, I feel like we spend more on less too. Especially when it comes to food, but on things in general. We don’t buy a lot and when we do, we research what we buy and work hard to make sure what we bring into our lives will actually fit our needs. It’s careful consumerism, and I don’t think that’s accounted for a lot.

  9. Added by eco 'burban mom on May 14th, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Cutest. Pig. Ever. I know this is about the RIOT, but that picture is adorable!

  10. Added by arduous on May 14th, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Beany I am totally with you on Monbiot. I feel like I should probably read his book before being dismissive of his “gloom and doominess” but blech.

  11. Added by Cheap Like Me on May 19th, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Great post, and thanks for the link. I need to do this kind of a wrap-up too. Sometimes it is all just discouraging, but just careful thinking makes it worthwhile.

    I highly encourage you to buy used. I feel that even if I buy a Gap shirt at Goodwill, at least no NEW bad labor is going into it (and some brands are much more durable than others, meaning they do last a long time). If you can find a used store in an “upscale” neighborhood (or consignment), sometimes you’ll even find fair trade/organic there. I recently came across a trove of American Apparel at Goodwill. And you’ll save tons of cash and footprint.

  12. Added by organicneedle on May 19th, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Cheap..I don’t have anything against used. (I grew up in Salvation Armies.) My kids get tons of hand-me-downs from friends. So..they wear used clothes – I just don’t buy them. It is really a time issue. I always have my 2 & 4 year old with me and I don’t have a whole lotta time to be browsing. I usually look on-line first and then order or go knowing exactly what I am going to get. You just can’t do that with used. I know that is what makes it nice – the uniqueness of the items – but not sure how to work that in. Maybe when the wee ones are in school I will explore that a bit more.

  13. Added by rhonda jean on June 1st, 2008 at 1:30 am

    I agree with you about the consumer goods. Buying the best quality you can afford, preferably local, is the best way to go. Buying cheap, which need to be replaced repeatedly, is a real waste.

    Great work – keep it up.

  14. Added by Long Overdue Riot Update : 56% Less Consumerist Pig! | Organic Needle on March 30th, 2009 at 5:48 am

    […] has been almost a year since I looked at my Riot numbers . Shame, shame, shame on me. For those of you who are scratching your heads wondering what the […]

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