Not anything too exciting to report. I realized that I broke my pledge again the other day in Flagstaff when we ate at Wendy's. Not such a biggie but still breaking the rules.
Other than that I am doing OK. I have bought some gifts from the downtown farmers market, and from a small family owned toy store near us so that is good. I also bought K some tops from a consignment store nearby. She has grown so fast this summer she will need some new winter clothes so I forsee a trip to Goodwill next week, and maybe a garage sale if I can find one nearby.
My mind set is definitely shifting away more and more from shopping as a recreational activity, and I am spending less which is great for our budget. I have been writing down everything I spend for the past few months and it is amazing how quickly things add up.
Almost half way through now. We are away again visiting family overseas in a few weeks so that may present some challenges. We shall see.
I plan on posting over the next few weeks with updates of the efforts we have been making to live more sustainably. Today’s update is “energy”.
The main issue we have is that our house is a total energy hog, especially at this time of year! Phoenix is of course one of the most perfect locations on earth for the utilization of solar energy, and my dream would be to install solar everything and live off the grid! Not surprisingly though we don’t have a spare $20,000 lying around for that purpose, so for now conservation has to be our goal.
We have kept our thermostat set at 83 degrees all summer. It feels OK. We also close the shutters for most of the day to keep the heat out, and of course make sure doors and windows are closed, and well insulated. We also use our ceiling fans which make things feel a lot cooler.
We are gradually phasing out all of our conventional light bulbs and changing to CFL’s. We probably have 50% of each right now. It is amazing how long a light bulb lasts when one is waiting for it to go!
I am being careful to make sure that lights are turned off.(Yes Mum I am almost you now!) I am also more mindful of appliance use generally, and will only run the washing machine when it is completely full. I rarely use the dishwasher. This causes controversy in our house which I will speak more of when I do our green update on "water". I am also much more aware of the need to unplug appliances that aren’t in use, like cell phone chargers for example.
I used to love taking long, hot baths, but summer here rather puts me off that idea so I seldom do now which saves on energy for heating water. The girls and I will often shower together as well so that also saves a little. I would love to install a solar hot water heater which is apparently a good place to start with solar, but unless our current boiler goes out, that too is unlikely right now. (You watch, now it will!)
I line dry most of our washing. I have been line drying less recently than I was a few months ago, but I can still say that 80% of our washing is dried using our solar dryer! Ironing is another issue entirely though I am afraid, and I always have a big ironing pile. We have a strict iron-to-wear policy in this house. Good job R doesn’t have a job that requires he wears shirts that need ironing!
I have worked hard on reducing our gas usage. I combine many trips now, and plan routes so that I can get most errands done in one trip. Many days I find I only have the school run to do, which is only a couple of miles from home. I have vague thoughts of trying to car pool but haven’t got far with that yet. I am also mindful about my speed on the freeway, staying at around 60 miles per hour. (This is also an indication of my rapidly approaching 40th birthday I am sure).
I am fortunate enough to be able to work from home, and while R’s commute is unavoidable, it is only about twenty five minutes or so which isn’t too bad. He has also changed his hours to four longer days a week which helps. Our recent vacation of course made a mockery of our gas conservation measures, so we actually have a lot of catching up to do in that area.
I think that is about it. Not dramatic I know, but small changes are a start. The main thing is that I am consciously thinking about everything I do from a sustainability standpoint which is a base for change.
The next few weeks I will do more green updates on "water", "waste", and "consumption".
K has been sick, really sick, so much so that I, who usually doesn't get easily panicked by my children and illness, rushed her off to the Dr yesterday. She needed to go, and I am glad we went because she is already feeling, and acting much better today.
On the way back from the Dr's office we stopped off at a well known pharmacy chain to collect her prescriptions. There was a very long wait, K was so sick, and E was getting rambunctious, and in a moment of major weakness I agreed to buy them both something small to keep them occupied. (This is totally out of character for me, I VERY rarely buy them random gifts when we are out and about. It is just not something I do). K predictably chose a princess coloring set, and E chose some little doggies, and they were both so surprised, and so happy, that I also felt a bit happy too. It wasn't that I had forgotten my pledge, rather that I had conveniently filed it away in the back of my mind for a little while.
So, there it is, I did it again, made two completely unnecessary new purchases against the rules of my pledge. The girls are still happily playing with their new toys today though, and that makes me feel like they do really appreciate the things that they have, and that is good I think.
Oh, and I almost forgot, we ate at Sweet Tomatoes after we had been to the museum last Sunday. Another pledge breakage I am afraid. This compacting business is harder than I thought it would be!
Today we went downtown again, this time to the Phoenix Childrens Museum. It has only been open a month or so, and I have heard great things about it from a couple of friends. I have also read some bad reviews online that surprised me rather now that I have been and seen it for myself, but I suppose it all comes down to personal expectations, and these often differ from parent to child.
There are areas within the museum that are yet to be completed, but overall I think that it is great value at $9 an admission if one stays for as many hours as we did today!
It is located within the refurbished Monroe School Building, which has been a downtown Phoenix landmark since 1913. It makes so much sense to me to use an existing building, rather than building from scratch, especially when the building is as appealing as this one is. It has been refurbished in a very innovative way, and the museum has very clear and thorough environmental policy practices, which of course appeal to me greatly.
"The Children's Museum of Phoenix's "Common Sense Green" environmental initiative will provide an over-arching roadmap for creating a museum that lives and breathes healthful choices."
The ground floor is huge and had some lovely art work displayed on the wall, and suspended from the high ceiling
Here is a small taste of some of the activities available
Phew! I think that if one utilizes all that there is available, this museum provides a great day out in Phoenix. There are ongoing plans for changing activities and exhibits which will keep things fresh. We had to practically drag the girls out, and so did the friends we were with. It was also really nice to see all the kids engaging in simple play activities, and loving every minute of it.
Phoenix Childrens Museum is the most ideal place for our long, hot summer days when nowhere outside in the searing heat is suitable for kids. It really is a great place, and I am excited to see it develop and grow.
Yesterday morning we went to collect our organic bounty from the veggie co-op we sign up for. I was again very happy with the quantity and selection, and am so glad I discovered this great co-op.
Then we went downtown to The Farmers Market to attend the chicken class run by Phoenix Permaculture Guild. We didn't make it all the way to the end though because the girls were getting rather restless, but I learned a ton of stuff about keeping urban chickens. Unfortunately we don't have enough room per city code to keep them without written permission from our neighbours, so our chicken keeping exploits will most likely need to wait until we move in a year or so.
Next my good friend C joined us with her lovely girls and we pottered around the market. It wasn't too hot because it was quite shady, and they had enormous fans which the girls enjoyed standing in front of.
I bought a beautiful pair of silver earings as a gift for a friend back home. I was glad to be able to buy local. There are loads of places for buying lovely local gifts at the market. I also discovered a stall selling "Tepary Beans" which are a native bean from right here in Arizona. The guy said they are like pinto beans, and that they have been grown for many years. I definitely want to try some next time we go back.
Then we wandered around for a while enjoying the sights.
Yesterday afternoon I planted two types of corn, two types of zucchini, snap beans, and cucumbers in my newly prapared beds. I added a load of compost from my compost bin so it should provide a good and fertile area. I feel strangely pessimistic about it all growing though, maybe because I haven't ever grown anything from seed at this time of year. We shall have to wait and see what sprouts!
Was it not me who proclaimed just three days ago "I have had no desire at all to go and browse the shops and I have realized that the reason for this is because we already have everything we need, and more!" Well apparently I need to eat my words because I broke my pledge TWICE the past couple of days!
I went to Trader Joes to pick up a few groceries and saw this very cute plant in the equally cute pot, and just had to buy it. It was as if I had no pledge I wanted that plant so much! Perhaps the plant could squeeze through and pass, but the pot certainly can't. It is an amazing plant though isn't it?
I also decided I wanted to play around on the old drum kit and when I went to find some sticks, I couldn't find any that matched, or were intact. So, of course I needed to buy some more, and of course I got new ones because buying second hand drum sticks rather defeats the object of buying them at all.
I pledge to do better from now on, and to not be nearly as smug as I was a few days ago!