Long Overdue Riot Update : 56% Less Consumerist Pig!

Wow….it 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 hairy heck I’m talking about, Riot4Austerity is a nifty little group that focuses on how people could actually achieve sustainable living. If you want to see how you rank in your own personal consumption check out their calculator .

So…here’s how I did.

Transportation Same.  No big surprises here.  Started at 12%, went to 13%, and now back to 12%.  Now, keep in mind, I live in one of the biggest cities in the world and actually have very decent public transportation and even my numbers aren’t at 9%.  (I don’t include flying in here because I’m not quite sure how to weigh that in, and I kind of think business travel goes to the company’s footprint, no?)  I can totally see why this is a priority, but not sure I can see how people who live in the country have a shot at achieving the kind of reduction necessary for sustainability without a major collaborative effort on everyone’s part…including the government’s.  Even having to drive as little as 10 miles back and forth to work each day would blow your numbers through the roof.   This is a mind blowing environmental dilemma. Plan: More walking with the warmer weather.

Electricity A little disappointed with myself here.  Started at 50%, went down to 29% with CFLs and basic diligence, and now we are back up to 44%.  Uggg.  Now I will give myself a break on a couple of usage points due to the simple increase of inside time due to this insane winter, but the bulk of it is from just pure lack of attention.  As I am writing this I can count 6 things on that don’t need to be.  Oink.  Plan: Simple diligence and more outside time.

Garbage Was 31%…reduced to 22%…and now at 24%.  The 2% increase isn’t horrible…but it is still an increase.  As you may remember, we have been raising worms all year long with the hopes that they were going to greatly reduce our organic waste…which is a huge part of our garbage.  Well…after a year it doesn’t look like they are even putting a dent in the job.  I feel like we could actually reach 9% here with some extra effort. Plan: Finding an alternative receptor for our organic waste, perhaps a farm compost project. Also, continue to find more reduced or recyclable packaged products.

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.  Isn’t it funny how when you don’t have a way to measure usage, it is so much LESS motivating to conserve?  We have zero control over the heat.  The water we could work on…tough to tell.  Face it, numbers are satisfying to the little Lisa Simpson in all of us. Plan:  Actually install the low-flow shower head that is currently staring at me on my desk.

pig Consumer Goods Can we have actually made progress in an area?  It was 100%, stayed 100%, and this last one was 44%.  No way!!!!! We have seriously cut back on the stuff train.  A very large chunk of our current number is books…which I don’t feel toooooo guilty about. (Writing is art…supporting artists is always good.)  How we did it?  We just stopped buying right away.  We have never been huge stuff people…but would often, for convenience sake, just buy what we thought we needed as soon as we thought we needed it without a lot of…well, thought.  Just waiting a week or two usually gives us a chance to find an alternative item already in the house.  Although, I’m pleased with our consumer shift in mentality, the Needle household spending isn’t all peachy.  I noticed something quite alarming as I was combing through the credit card bill; we spend an insane, embarrassingly insane, amount of money on restaurants and wine.  Not sure how I feel about this.  On the one hand, it feels foolish to be spending so much on extras, but on the other….NYC restaurants are a vital part of our economy…most are locally owned and employ a decent chunk of the population.  I think the word balance needs to come into play here.  Plan: Keep thoughtful about purchasing and try AGAIN to find more used goods.  Also, rethink our entertainment spending.

Food (Disclaimer….the following is based on a whole lotta guess work…honest guesswork…but I haven’t actually weighed my food and I also am still not 100% clear where traveled organics fall into the picture…I’ve placed them local for now…but that isn’t quite right either.) Okay…started at a guestamit of 25% local/organic, 1% bulk, and 74% traveled non organic.  Then we switched to the CSA and guestimated our numbers to be better…30% local/organic but now the bulk of that was local AND organic so it is a notable improvement.  Bulk went up to about 5% since I started doing more of the baking, and of course that left 65% everything else.  Now…I think we have moved into about the 48% local/organic and about 48% traveled & conventional, with bulk being about the same.  The big change here was simply paying more attention to where things were coming from.  Trader Joe’s now uses MA dairies and eggeries for their NE stores…which drastically reduced the miles on our heavy food.  (They used to send everything from CA!)  Our CSA allows us to get things like honey, maple syrup, cheeses, and even bread if we want it from upstate.  So things on this front are definitely moving in the right direction not only for me, but for the whole community.  Plan: When the markets open up try to find more local sources for things I still have shipped…like soap.

cornhusk Although I’m pleased with our consumer piggie progress…the electric and garbage numbers are a wee bit depressing.  I guess I will have to start eating more potato peelings by candleight while wearing my corn husk dress.

Have you updated your numbers?

2 Responses to “Long Overdue Riot Update : 56% Less Consumerist Pig!”

  1. Added by knutty knitter on March 30th, 2009 at 6:17 am

    I decided to do ours on the strength of it. Our highest was 18% for electric but that covers everything as we don’t use anything else at all except the solar hot water heater. Garbage was 10% – I’ve been trying to reduce this a bit more as I’m not happy with it yet. 6% was the car but it is too far to bike for youngest until next year. We do carpool and that helps. So do the bikes. The rest was all under 3% so I don’t feel too guilty there. The food one was hard to figure but we do buy local as much as possible. I have to say I’d like to buy a little more stuff every so often but we are poor and need to save for education etc for the kids.

    Keep at it – it does get easier with time and I have found that if I do one thing at a time and then let it become a habit its much easier to move on and not forget things.

    viv in nz 🙂

  2. Added by Seraphim on March 30th, 2009 at 8:32 am

    I’ve never looked at Riot4Austerity before, so I have nothing to compare too, but I think I still did pretty well, though I have the advantage of no kids! I’m sure I can decrease my unnessary spending a lot though, so i’ll focus on that.

    Oh, and that little piggie… is the cutest thing I’ve seen all day.

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