I have the great honor of hosting Canadian artist and writer, Franke James, for this new BlogActs Guest Series on La Marguerite. Franke James’ unique philosophy on fighting climate change is to ‘do the hardest thing first‘, so she can relax and enjoy life! James environmental visual essays have been featured in newspapers, on radio, TV and many online blogs including Treehugger, Worldchanging, Eco-Sherpa, and What is the Next Message. Franke adapted her ‘Green Winter‘ visual essay into a narrated animation, with music composed by David Gray, Big World Songs. It was recently featured in her presentation ‘Six Tools to Make Climate Change Art‘ to 150 high school students at The McMichael Gallery. ‘A Green Winter’ will also be published in an anthology of readings for Canadian university students entitled Perspectives on Contemporary Issues, to be published by Thomson, Autumn 2007. James has a Masters Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Victoria, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Mount Allison University.
“Turn off that light!” That shrill command has been ringing in my head since last winter when we got serious about reducing our hydro usage.
If I ignored it — it was followed by a voice mocking me, “Do you own shares in the electric company, dummy?” Whoever or whatever planted that annoying voice in my head (I think it was my smart-a*s brother-in-law), it worked…
Yesterday, I opened our electricity bill and found an insert: “Congratulations and thank you for reducing your electricity use by 10% this summer!”
I studied the bill carefully… Only a 10% reduction? Not that I’m competitive or anything but I thought we’d done better than that! In fact, we have reduced our usage by over 20%. But Toronto Hydro is not awarding gold stars for overachievers. The good news is we earned a 10% Summer Savings credit. Not bad. And thankfully we didn’t have to sign up for any program — Toronto Hydro just went ahead and did it. They awarded the 10% discount to any consumers who qualified. Super easy. No red tape. I like that.
Now you’re probably imagining us as heroes for doing without electricity… But it was so easy.
#1. We threw out the TV and read books by candlelight.. (just kidding)
#2. We unplugged the Beer fridge (not kidding). We finally gave it the heave-ho in September. More room in the basement now!
#3. We turned off lights whenever we left a room. It’s a habit that’s easy to pick up if you think about money being wasted.
#4. We switched to the new curly (CFL) light bulbs. But we also have lots of Halogen lights, so that didn’t make a big difference.
#5. We reduced the use of our air conditioner by opening skylights and windows (clever inventions). We also raised the thermostat to 24 or 25 degrees. (If you wear shorts, it’s a very comfortable temperature.)
#6. We reduced the use of our electric dryer with the installation of a low-cost solar linear-drying device — otherwise known as a clothesline. (Thanks to Green Party Leader Frank de Jong for that fancy moniker.) I would have used the clothesline a lot more but I haven’t solved the problem of scratchy, sandpaper towels. I tried eco-fabric softener but that only helped a little.
Admittedly we still have a few ‘vampires’ sucking energy so I can see we can still do better…
But, hey… this feels pretty good. I’m encouraged that our little actions made a difference in our pocketbook. And in reducing our footprint. We’re adapting to the new reality of climate change.
Now if I can just reduce our use of water….