less waste, minimalism, Vegan

4 planet earths

So I just took a environmental footprint calculator quiz online.  It was fun, asked great questions, gave results that I could understand and even showed suggestions on how to lessen your footprint after the test. Even though I was very excited when it came to the meat consumption part;  I could answer all of those as zero!  Woohoo veganism!  I was surprised that my overall footprint seemed so high at 4 planet earths.   Meaning if everyone lived like myself, we would need to have 4 planet earths to sustain.

The highest area of my ecological footprint was in services/energy.  It took up about half of my total footprint.  So now what?  I don’t feel like we consume a lot of energy.  Our condo is five star energy rated.  When it was built they used a lot of recycled/local materials, energy efficient appliances, bamboo floors instead of wood, low flow toilets/faucets, and a crazy amount of insulation.  I always have the blinds open during the AM hours of the day to let natural light in and close them as temperatures rise, to keep the inside temperature down.  We use fans and/or space heaters to avoid using our central unit.  Not to mention we don’t use our over more then a couple times a month, if that.  And in all honesty our energy bill is always a lot less then most people I know.

So what else could we do?  I have heard that unplugging smaller items around the house when they are not in use can help.  Even though these items maybe turned off, if they are plugged in, they can pull a very small amount of energy still.  As I walked around the house and unplugged what I could, I vowed to cut down on whatever else there was.  Then I remembered how Colin Beavan, the author of No Impact Man, turned off their apartments electricity all together for about 6 months.  For light they used candles.  Now I am not going to be that extreme, but we could probably cut down on electricity use in at least one room, right?

I told my husband, that for the weekend, I wanted to see what it would be like using candles to light our living room at night instead of the overhead fan light.  He liked the idea, so I pulled out all the extra (mostly never used) candles that I had and placed them neatly on our coffee table.  I’m excited to see how this will turn out tonight!  If we like the idea, when the paraffin candles are all used up, then I will look into buying soy based candles to replace them.

Paraffin candles are basically made from petroleum/coal/oil.  They are 100% NOT environmentally friendly with the way they are made and what they emit into the air when they are burned.  Beeswax is another option, but because I’m vegan, I will let the bees keep their wax that they work so hard to produce.  Soy is a renewable, plant based, source.  The biggest thing to make sure of when purchasing them is that they are 100% soy.  Some soy wax candles are mixed almost 50/50 with paraffin.  Also, if possible, make sure the soy beans used are organic and non-GMO, so not to further promote the use of such chemically derived items.  I would love to be able to buy them locally too and have reached out to some Austin based candle businesses.  One thing to keep in mind, is that, in the end it is about doing the best you can, not being perfect.  So don’t beat yourself up if you can’t find the perfect candle.  Every little bit helps.

As I have mentioned in prior posts, I really want to take the time this year to find more and more ways to be more conscious of the energy we use, the products we buy, and the waste we create.  Using candles to light a room is a very small step but still a step in the right direction.  As I come across more ideas I will share them with you here.  As well as, update you with what worked for us and what didn’t.  I would love to hear back from anyone else who has found clever ways to shrink their footprints!  We are stronger together.

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