The Clean Hippie

Seeking the sustainable life in New York City

Yesterday was electricity day, today is water! October 23, 2009

Filed under: experiment — Alden @ 7:39 pm


Hmmm, which is more vital, electricity or water? Well, from the looks of my room, you would think the former!

I have one outlet in my whole room. ONE. This place was obviously built pre-war. From that one outlet, I have two power strips that connect to – deep breath – my TV, cable box, and DVD player, my sound system, air conditioning, laptop, my iPhone and iPod charger, internet modem, wifi box, lamp, printer, straightener, and hair dryer. Wow, listening all of them really does bring it home: modern life requires a lot of electricity.

Do I really need all of these things? Well, “need” is an interesting word. I didn’t think I needed a TV for the first couple months I was here. But Mad Men started, and i caved. I watch maybe an hour a week. Weak.

The printer? I wouldn’t need it if the businesses didn’t keep requiring us to print out proofs that we bought a ticket, etc.

And I don’t NEED a sound system. But I have it, and I use it. It was great in college for impromptu “get ready” parties before we went out. For that, a lap top just doesn’t do the trick. But now, my little dance parties are limited. In fact, no one will even trek up to the Upper West Side – well, in reality, Harlem – to meet me. And the hair straightener and hair dryer. Don’t even go there, honey. They are staying.

The thing is, even when all of these gadgets aren’t in use, they are sucking energy up. It’s called being a vampire appliance. That costs me money (and Vicki too, since we split the electric bill), as well as contributes just a little bit to my footprint. (Electricity is generated by coal-burning!)

So I’ve come up with a compromise. On one power strip is my internet modem, wifi box, and lamp. The other power strip is hooked up to everything else. (There aren’t enough plugs, so I alternate.) Ok, so whenever I leave the apartment, or I’m just not using anything, I turn that power strip off. Voila, nothing is sucking energy.


Now, what about water? I remember in middle school one progressively-minded teacher, between teaching us about rotating crops in developing countries, and desertification, had us add up how much water we use every day – for showers, washing dishes, washing hands, flushing the toilet, watering houseplants, and watering lawns. But what if we had to walk three miles to pull up a bucket of dirty water and bring it back to the house? We wouldn’t be so cavalier about flushing such a precious resource down the toilet. I’ve remembered that lesson, it’s always at the back of my mind. (Thanks Mrs. McKenna!)

So how do we conserve it? Good question. As far as I can tell, there are only a few ways to do so (if one wants to stay normal). One is to take less and shorter showers. Lately I’ve been washing my hair less. Ok, it’s not gross, I promise. The hair is healthier when it doesn’t get its oils stripped away everyday. There are even some people who have stopped washing their hair completely. They claim that after a few (very gross) weeks, the natural balance is restored. I won’t go that far. But every other day to keep it from looking icky is fine.

You can also take Navy showers. That’s where you get yourself wet, turn off the water, soap up, and then turn it back on to rinse off. It’s not has bad as it sounds, promise! And, while you’re showering, put a little bucket or glass in the shower to fill up and use to water your plants.

And you know another way to conserve water? Fill up a bottle of water and put it in your toilet tank. In fact, I’m gonna go do that right now!


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