- This is in answer to:
- Could you live without a car for a year? See all answers
- July 9, 2010 by shmode
- Live a year w/o a car, are you crazy?
I've blogged a few times before of my family's efforts to greenify our home. Although I loathe to even call what we do 'green', a very over-used word, it lets people know what we mean quite easily. Everyone knows the term of course, but every chemical company tries to use that in their naming to hide what is really happening, so I don't care to use it (kind of like 'organic', 'cool' and 'like').
I like being environmentally conscious (see? I don't like 'green', even if it is a much shorter term), in fact our family tries to think about it on a daily basis. We make baby steps in order to lessen our carbon footprint on this earth. We do what we can.
That being said, I have a bone to pick really. Not with anyone in particular, but the general area of the 'green-nazi' would work. I live in Canada, Alberta to be specific (oh hush now, our tar-sands suck, but do you drive a car? case closed my friend).
My beef lies in the idea of how to lessen your carbon footprint is a limited idea to what kind of power usage, the food gathering issues, and how much car usage, completely blanketed across the world.
My area has 8 months of winters and winter'ish (spring and autumn? HA I laugh, we don't have those 2 seasons - there's winter, winter'ish and construction/Stampede season). In those seasons of winter and winter'ish our light is limited, not exactly northern darkness-all-day limited, but extremely short (about 9 hours'ish?). Even though I'd love to shut down our house entirely and sleep the other 15 hours out of the day to conserve light, it's not a reasonable request. First of all, even I can't sleep that durn long and second, that 9 hours isn't enough time to do all of our things we need light for: feed kids, do household chores, feed kids, run errands, feed kids, oh and did I mention feed kids?
Our power consumption is fairly good in our house. We use energy efficient appliances where possible (and available) and shut off lights around the house. I say 'fairly good' knowing that I will never, ever use those fluorescent bulbs in any of my sockets. Oh don't get me wrong, I'm all for lessening the consumption of energy through light, but it boils down to way more than just the output at my own house. How about how much energy it takes to create one of those, or the fact that frequent on/off usage (like my laundry room) drastically reduces how long they last, or the mercury content and disposal issues? I found a "site" that actually did a comparison of a CFL to an incandescent not only in energy consumption during use but the actual production cycle. It is very true he found (or the researcher he quoted) that CFLs still outdo the incandescents based upon the promise that a CFL will last 1000 hours. I did fall into the CFL craze and loaded my basement with them, the greatest light consumer in our house because it has no windows and is my laundry room & kid's play room. In that room the longest lasting CFL bulb was about 50 hours (that's calculating the days it lasted by how long it would've been on in a day). That's it. Ironically enough, that is this guys breaking point as to the CFL advantage over incandescent. They are not a benefit to us, nor do they lessen our carbon footprint in our home.
Moving on. Food, oh glorious food, how we love it don't we? It's more than just fuel for us really, but for the environmentally conscious it's a battle to balance good food with bad for the environment decisions. I grow a garden, I try and skip the inner aisles where production energies consumed is much, much higher. But that's about it. The 500 mile diet? I'd be able to eat beef, potatoes, onions and corn year round, with a few smatterings of other stuff in early September when the growing season peaks. Winter limits our growing season so we have to have things shipped to us. We are in a zone only 1 above the Territories because we live close to the mountains.
Plinky has a prompt for living without a car for a year, which is what nudged me into writing this blithering idiocy. It nudged me into thinking about more than just living without a car, but about the idea of what environmentally consciousness is to the world. Can I and my growing family take those monumental steps that claim I need to take in order to lessen my footprint here? Are all of them reasonable requests to make of an Alberta? Are you freakin' crazy? I don't know about you, but attempting to get groceries with 3 (soon to be 4 I guess) kids without a car in Winter or Winter'ish sounds freakishly stupid to me.
Could I live without a car for a year? Yes I could technically live, actually survive. But would I? That would be hell-to-the no. It's not practical where I live. If winter were a lot shorter and I didn't live 5K from the grocery store it'd be a little more reasonable idea. I would challenge people to drive less for sure, but not at all? Not here, not now.