Monday, July 14, 2008

The Journey One Month In

It’s been one month since sticker shock overcame me while gassing up my little Honda. I’ve since recovered and launched this blog on local living to catalogue my journey. The next few posts will be an update on the changes I’ve made so far.

First, this new path fits me like a glove.

I like the idea of frugal living. I’ve never been one to live at the top of my paycheck. The Anti-Material Girl. Now from my blog reading, I see that it’s becoming cool. The In Crowd at last!

I like living in my house. Maybe it’s the years of running around with the kids, the hours on the freeway back and forth to work or the grind that LA traffic has become nearly round the clock, but I no longer like driving. Closer is better. My house is nest-able.

I already know how to cook, sew, manage a household. I wasn’t raised with the McDonald’s Convenience Syndrome and the thought of making my own cheese or butter is intriguing.

I work from home so I don’t have to drive much anyway and the kids are beyond the schlepping to softball and piano lesson stage.

My most favorite activity in the world is to curl up with a book. I’ve yet to actually curl up with my laptop but with the Internet, the world comes to me. And with a wide open topic like living local, I have lots of room to roam.

So I don’t feel deprived one bit. In fact, I feel the stirrings of a liberated consumer casting aside the chains of media manipulation.

Now for the changes:

Electricity – I’ve become fanatic about shutting off lights whenever I leave a room. Unfortunately our humble abode is so dark I have to have lights on all day in whatever room I’m in. No 'Good Morning, Sunshine' for me in this house. But we’ve cut way down on AC usage. In my mind I’m conserving now for when we hit those weeks of 95° and above that will start pounding us in August. Sweat has become a virtue.

Recycling - We’ve had recycling in Los Angeles for nearly 20 years. So the habit of separating out glass, newspaper, metal and plastic has become well entrenched. But turning over every conceivable plastic container to check for that little rounded triangle symbol has become an obsession. I’m finding new things to recycle like junk mail, office paper, toilet rolls, cereal boxes and yogurt containers. I scrutinize every plastic bag. The plastic bag for potting soil for cactuses was recyclable but the bag for the organic super soil mix wasn’t. Go figure.

Water – A few years ago we needed a new washer and dryer. We bought a non-Maytag, breaking a longstanding family tradition. We purchased Fisher & Paykel energy saver machines. The washer senses how much water it needs so I can do smaller loads without wasting water. I was washing the shrinkables in cold water for years anyway. Now I run practically everything that way. Plus it spins the water out of them like nobody’s business so the clothes spend less time in the dryer. And during the summer I’ll be rack drying most of our clothes in that warm California sun.

More in the next post about my gas diary, the paper towel challenge and smiling at shopkeepers.

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