This is Leslie. I’m participating with my husband, Peter. We are the parents of five young-adult children. Our recognition of the threat posed by climate change and our concern for our children’s lives and futures has caused us to significantly shift our lifestyle in the last two years to one of greater sustainability.
Our household has already taken action on many of the menu items for the Three Actions project but we are by no means at the bottom of the chart. We believe involvement in this project will give us the discipline to measure our progress and the opportunity to develop new habits.
We have chosen two actions together, and each of us chose one action separately. Our shared actions are:
- Eliminate All Waste. Every year for the past five years, we’ve chosen to work toward one significant sustainability goal. The goal for 2012 was to become a zero waste household after seeing this video, but we haven’t made significant progress. Instead, we’ve been “creating the conditions for success” (more on this later). We believe that the act of photographing and measuring will help us be more successful and we appreciate the information the Three Actions project has provided as background.
- Reduce Plug Loads by 33%. Our house has a 3.2 kW solar electric system (as well as solar hot air panels), which is small for a household but it’s all the space we had on our roof. In June, our PV system produced 3/4 of our electricity. We considered choosing the goal of Living Within our Solar Budget, but we felt this “lesser” goal would provide the kind of measurement that we needed to reach the larger goal. The worksheets that came with the Three Actions project will help us understand where our energy is being used so we can either change our usage or determine if we should add an off-grid solar component for some discrete uses (like powering our freezer, which is an essential part of our program to eliminate food waste).
My separate action is to Eliminate Food Waste. Like every other American, we undoubtedly have food dying in our refrigerator at this very moment. But our household has an even bigger challenge: our garden!
I joined the urban farming program of the Permaculture Research Institute for Cold Climates (PRI) and have turned about 1/3 of our city lot over to organic food production. We produce (more or less successfully) cucumbers, zucchini, squash, collard greens, kale, chard, lettuce, peppers, green beans, carrots, radishes, garlic, leeks, onions, cabbage, basil, tomatoes, potatoes, beets, rhubarb, horseradish, mint, oregano, sunflowers and strawberries. We’ve been expanding our plantings of fruits and berries, though our harvests are still quite small.
So far this summer we’ve harvested more than 100 pounds of zucchini and cucumber, 51 heads of garlic, 40 hot hungarian peppers, a few pounds of tomatoes, and bushels of greens. I’ve managed to stay on top of it with canning, pickling, cooking and freezing. This goal will help me keep on track. Plus, I’d like to see how far into the winter we can get eating our own produce.
(PS: Our household also blogs on our sustainability efforts, the activities our of neighborhood sustainability group, and things occurring around the Twin Cities at Think of It As An Adventure).