Isn’t life grand, here in 21st century America? For most of us, it’s a wonderland of technology. We’ve got our internets, our Tivo’s, our superhighways, air conditioning in the summer and automatic heat for the winter. Truthfully, we have it made in lots of ways.
So when a friend of mine, whom I haven’t seen in awhile, walks into my kitchen, it’s a natural question to ask. “Where’s your fridge?” It’s at the office, I tell him. Along with the microwave and the other things you’d expect to find in my kitchen. I don’t use these things at my home. It has very little to do with money, and very much to do with the future. My childrens’ future, and their childrens’ and theirs.
Just Hippie Schlock?
I’m a holdover from the 60s or the 70s, I can never tell which. Back then, I started reading about conservation, renewable resources, all that stuff that now is mainstream and at the forefront of our consciousness. I could see back then that this was not just more hippie schlock, but was indeed real. I made a deal with myself to do something about it, even if it was a small thing I did.
So when I moved into my office a few years ago, I decided that the fridge should be there, along with everything else in the kitchen. If it wouldn’t fit into to break room at the office, I gave it away. Why the office, instead of my home? There are several reasons. I’m single. I work all the time, which usually puts me at the office. I don’t date (much). If you actually see me in the flesh, it’s probably going to be at the office. So the amenities should be there, and not here(I’m writing this at home).
This does have an impact on my lifestyle, assuming my life has style. I eat out every meal. I don’t go to the grocery store, ever. Toiletries and such are bought in one of 2 bi-annual trips to the local “dollar store” where I buy a dozen toothbrushes, 48 rolls of tissue, about a gallon of shampoo and maybe 20 bars of soap, among other things. I am not a “good” consumer. Shopping is alien to me. (Makes Christmas kinda hard.)
The Cost Factor
So with all that eating out, I must be spending massively on food, right? Not really. The cost of food in the house is more than just the cost of the food. There is the electricity to store the food in the fridge, the cost of cooking the food, the cost of cleaning up the cooking, the cost of dishes, pots and pans… the list could go on. I have none of those costs here at home. A small container of dishwashing soap lasts me over a year. I need it because, although I am willing to give up my food-at-home, I really want my coffee. So I do have a coffee maker in the house.
And what’s my monthly food budget? I spend around 500 dollars a month to put chewables in my mouth. That’s actually a bit less than I spent when I cooked at home. Adding in the savings on electricity, water and the drudgery of washing things up, I think I’m looking at a profit.
Not For Everybody
Now, if I was married, or had kids at home or a roommate, I probably wouldn’t be able to live this way. I can do this alone, but I’m not sure it would be accepted as a way of life for anyone else. I’m certain it would be unjust for me to expect anyone else to accept it. So this lifestyle may not be for you, or anyone you know.
Then again, if you’re single, work alot, are not trying to impress anyone with all the stuff you’ve got, maybe you should think about it. Done well, this can save quite a bit of money and time. Of course, you’ll have to be ready for the inevitable question, and the strange looks, and the reputation for being, well… weird.
Does It Make A Difference?
If it doesn’t make a difference, then it’s just pointless. Looking around the net, you can find alot of sites that will calculate your “carbon footprint” and compare it to averages for your state or country. In checking mine, I found that my footprint is less than half of the average for North Carolina, and about a quarter the average in California.
This is a lousy estimate, in my opinion. For one thing, this site didn’t bother asking me how many computers I have running at any given time. That answer alone would bump me right up there with the worst of them. My TV may never be on, but I have at least one PC running all the time, sometimes 3 or 4 at a time. So my household output of about 5 metric tons of CO2/year is not quite accurate. Add to that at least another 5 metric tons due to the office. That gives me about 10 tons of carbon output per year. That’s about what the average household in NC produces. But if you add in the computers, the amount explodes. My impact seems to be quite small.
But at least it is something. I’m toying with the idea of closing the office and moving everything into my house. It will be a tight fit. I’ll lose the “move-around” room I have, and will have to deal with customers in my private space. But it will eliminate about half of my real carbon footprint. I think that’s important.
What do you think? Do you know your carbon footprint and how it compares to the rest of the world? How about your computer, do you know it’s footprint? Do you think all this talk about footprints is just hogwash? Let me know, I’m curious.
I am Jon, and I’m thinking about bringing the fridge home.