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Eco-Decisions Report #3: Seasonal Progress Update

February 1, 2011
Still waiting for that deal!

Al & I at a candle-light vigil to support COP15

It has been a while since we posted an Eco-choices Report.  Some decisions have become habit. We’ve successfully incorporated them into our day-to-day activities, but others have been more of a challenge.

Since we last posted we moved to a new neighborhood.  I’ve started a new job and things have gotten so much easier for us.  My commute has been split in two.  We love our new home, neighborhood etc.  In many ways our green behaviors fit right in.  We’re within biking distance of a Whole Foods for instance. We’ve got recycling in our building (Hallelujah!) and our neighborhood has a walk score in the high 80s so most of our needs can be met on foot.

However we can’t let our beautiful new home lull us into a sense of complacency.  It is easy to get comfortable.  I have good job, health insurance will kick in at the end of the month.  But our journey to sustainability must continue. The seven years of feast will eventually end. Living in America, job-security is precarious; we are only a downsize away from being income-less and even worse insurance-less.  Ultimately we must remember the hard times are coming,  and we have two choices: Act like the industrious  ant or the lackadaisical grasshopper.

Seasonal Report Card

Biking or walking for transportation and errands
Our performance:  B+
Our opinion of the experience:  A++

We have used our car so little this summer we got a discount on our car insurance. After the initial challenges, biking became our preferred way to do errands and get around. Soon we were feeling fit and healthy and every trip out was an adventure.    From several jaunts with Critical Mass and other people-powered bike tours, a trip to the beach on the forth of July, an expedition with Lola in tow to Pilsen for horchata shakes and a lazy afternoon in the park, I feel like this summer was one of the fullest and longest lasting I’ve experienced since moving to Chicago.  Al an I spent genuine bonding time together. We’ve grown closer as a couple and made extraordinary memories that will last a life time.

Reducing our energy consumption:
Our performance:  A-
Our opinion of the experience:  A

We tend to have only a few lights on at a time and we have gotten much better about turning off the computers when they are not in use. Our bill is always really low. Our greatest challenge is getting used to unplugging things when they are not in use.  I am an instant-satisfaction kind of gal and this is little hard for me.  Yet it makes sense (and cents), so you can bet we will succeed!

Buying local, organic and/or responsibly produced products:
Our performance:  C+  (we’ve done a lot but there is always room for improvement)
Our opinion of the experience:  A+

I’d say 50% of what we buy now falls in this category. We fully believe that each dollar is a vote. Also it is important to note that we have been much healthier since making this decision.  The more clean, chemical, toxin-free, organic, locally produced stuff we eat the better we feel.

Recycling:
Our performance:  A-
Our opinion of the experience:  C+ (before moving)  A+ (after moving)

We recycled even when we didn’t have a pick up service. Our pantry got overflowed with recyclables until we drove them all over the center.  Now recycling is easy in our new home, we have a bin behind our building that we can fill to our heart’s content.

The 4th ” R” Refuse:
Our performance:  B+
Our opinion of the experience:  B+ (always room for improvement!)

Except when we need bags for “Lola duty” we always opt for reusable. Thanks to all the reusable bag discounts we’ve even saved some money.  We  do our best to buy in bulk and buy stuff with minimal packaging.  Plus I am still using reusable plates at my work cafeteria and hankies are officially a household institution.

Our Continuing Education:
Our performance:  A+
Our opinion of the experience:  A+

We own our own dogeared copy Urban Homesteading, we visited a rooftop garden, took a composting class, and watched a continual stream of documentaries.  (Make sure you check out EC’s Guide on Docu-films and Where to Find Them to share what we’ve been learning. ) In short we’ve learned a lot.

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