December 9, 2020 – Trying to save the world (PART THREE)

Hello again, my friends! Oh my goodness, all day long I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out what to talk about first. I thought about starting small and then going big, such as starting out with things you can do within your own household before you turn your attention to your community or even beyond that. Even just writing about what you can do within the confines of your own home and/or property in order to make an impact on our world is quite off-putting. There is the application of conservation techniques to save water and electricity. There is also the concept of reduce/reuse/recycle, which many of us are familiar with. And, of course, there is everything else. ‘Everything else’ consists of what type of plants to put in your garden, composting, donating money to good causes, eliminating or reducing the use of single use plastics, eating your leftovers rather than throwing them away, upgrading your windows, upgrading your furnace, repairing or donating your goods rather than tossing them out. I could go on. This is the tip of the iceberg really. But I have to use some restraint or I’m never going to be able to move past this topic and onto something else. Ever.

I’m sure all of you have heard of ways to conserve water and electricity. And it is really pretty simple. The first thing you can do is repair any leaky faucets and/or toilets. When something goes drip, drip, drip continuously, those drips add up over time and that is very much the case with a leaky toilet. When you brush your teeth, turn on the water to wet your toothbrush and then turn it off until you need it again. If you’ve got it on full blast while you’re standing there making sure you’ve adequately brushed every quadrant of your mouth, that’s a lot of water going down the drain. When it’s time to bathe, keep your shower to under 10 minutes. I understand you might need a little bit longer if you have to shave while you’re in the shower, but even then, you can still shut off the water while you’re shaving and then turn it back on when you’re ready to rinse off. And before I get too far ahead of myself, I wanted to return to the subject of toilets again. One really great way to conserve water is to replace your old toilet with a new one. The old ones generally used between 5-7 gallons per flush. If you need a visual in order to understand how much water that is, think about those one gallon jugs of water that are available at the grocery store. Got it? Now take that amount and multiply it by 5 or 6 or 7. That’s a ridiculous amount of water to flush your ‘waste’ down the toilet, especially if all you did was empty your bladder.

In order to save electricity, there are also a number of things you can do. Probably the easiest thing is simply turning off the light(s) when you leave a room. Not using an appliance? Unplug it. When you enter or exit your home, close the door behind you. And this suggestion actually does more than just save electricity, I guarantee it will save you time, too. Sorry. Too vague. You demand an explanation?! Ok, you asked for it! Think about it. What inevitably happens when you leave the door open? And, no, I’m not talking about the barn door, that’s a whole different subject. When you leave the door open, a fly (or several) will enter your home. And if you’re really unlucky, a wasp or a mouse or a rat or a snake might enter, too. But let’s just stick with flies. I am pretty sure they have one ‘posted’ at every outer door, just waiting for the opportunity to enter. And if you have to carry groceries from your car to your kitchen and decide it’s too much of a hassle to shut the door each time you enter and exit, you are going to pay for it! And I don’t mean you’re going to just pay with higher energy bills because of all the loss of heating or cooling heading out the door, you’re going to pay with your valuable time.

Why is that? Unless you’ve got a better aim than I do (and I have a terrible aim), you’re going to spend a c-o-n-s-i-d-e-r-a-b-l-e amount of time trying to smash that fly (or flies) because you’re tired of it (or them) trying to continually alight on your food or your head, or follow you from room to room and loudly ‘buzz’ past you every few seconds, or taunt you once you’ve settled in to watch a movie or a TV show by landing on the screen and casually walking across it, with no concern about how &$#(@)!! distracting it is/they are. I think those suckers actually like to wait until I’ve settled in to watch a movie just to screw with me. It never fails! Once I’ve done all of the preliminary things, used the restroom, prepared my snacks, neatly put them on a plate and carried them into the livingroom, settled on the couch with a pillow behind my head and a blanket over my lap, placed the snacks on my lap, put on my glasses, and clicked the ‘on’ button on the TV remote, one of those little SOBs (as in ‘son-of-a’) unfailingly makes an appearance. Of course, guess what happens when you finally get fed up because the distraction of the fly casually walking across the screen and periodically cleaning itself has made it impossible to enjoy the movie, so you undo everything you just did and fetch the fly swatter? It disappears, just like that!

Wow! I really went off track that time. Sorry. Back to ‘trying to save the world’. So, yes, aside from shutting off lights and unplugging appliances and closing the door behind you, there are all kinds of things you can do. Drafts are one of the most common causes of energy loss. Drafty doors and drafty windows are two of the biggest offenders. If you have a drafty door, the solution can be fairly easy to remedy and economical. And the solution is basically a pliable rubber strip with an adhesive backing that you can find at nearly any hardware store (or regular store with a hardware aisle). For less than $15, you can purchase one of those strips, install it yourself and save a lot of money over the long run. As far as windows are concerned, aside from out-and-out replacing the old, drafty ones with new ones in order to conserve energy, the solutions are wide-ranging and not nearly as effective. Three relatively affordable things you can do if you don’t have the funds to replace your windows are to install window insulation film, use rope caulk to seal cracks and gaps, and add thermal curtains. And since I’m on the topic, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t mention the importance of insulation. Insulation is really the primary means to prevent or reduce energy loss in your home. How do you go about installing insulation when your home is already built? That’s a great question and I’m going to leave that to you to research. My blog is starting to sound like a text book and they aren’t much fun to read, so I’m going to move on to other things.

Geez. I just realized that all I’ve managed to talk about are just a handful of things and I haven’t even touched on single-use plastics or drought tolerant plants or recycling. Good grief! I really didn’t plan on this, but this ‘topic’ is like a runaway train. And I’ve got to figure out how to put on the brakes before it derails and I lose all of my passengers. It’s hard, because some of this stuff can be really ‘dry’ and I don’t like writing about stuff that’s ‘dry’. I like to write about relationships and feelings and I don’t think I touched on any of that today. I think the closest I got was when I talked about flies. And speaking of insects, there is a strange sound coming out of our wet/dry vacuum that is sitting in the bathroom. It’ll start out quiet and intermittent and then it gets louder and more frequent. Every time I walk over beside it to investigate, it gets quiet again. I am pretty sure there’s something in there but there’s NO WAY I am lifting off the lid to verify. My husband is fast asleep and I know if something comes scampering out of that vacuum after I lift the lid, I am going to let out a whopper of a scream that will not only wake my husband, but probably half the neighborhood, too.

Anyway, I’m going to leave you once again. There’s something important on the back of my eyelids that I need to read. I will try to figure out between now and when I resume writing, how to better tackle this topic so it doesn’t drag on for 6 months. It wasn’t my intention to write a book about ‘trying to save the world’, that’s for sure! Ok, with that, I’m signing off. All the best to you and we’ll (fingers crossed) see you again very soon!

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