Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Help!! Tips on Rioting

Here we go - let's put together a tip sheet on Rioting 4 Austerity! The Riot is a project where participants aim to reduce their carbon emissions by 90% by reducing their use of electricity, heating fuel, gasoline, water, waste, and changing the way they get and make food.

I'd like to put something together to help new Rioters - a Quick-Start Tip Sheet.
I have started a rough outline of some ideas to help reduce carbon emissions, organized by the seven Riot categories. Please help me with your ideas and experience - take a look at the outline and let me know what you think! Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • Ideas/suggestions for specific changes to reduce waste/consumption/energy use - with links you found especially helpful?
  • What changes saved you the most money? (Specific numbers??)
  • What changes saved the most energy? (Specific numbers??)
  • What changes were most worth it overall/ most satisfying?
  • Was there anything you tried that didn't work?

1. Water
i. Habits
· Taking shorter / less frequent showers (egg timer anyone?)
· Letting the yellow mellow
· Planting xeriscape or garden instead of watering a thirsty lawn
· Infrequent lawn watering
· Turning off tap when brushing teeth / dish-washing
ii. Technology
· Low-flow showerheads
· Low-flush toilets / Toilet dams
· Fixing leaks ASAP
iii. Conservation in the garden
· Mulching
· Adding organic matter to the soil
· Ollas / In-ground buckets
· Drip irrigation
· Swales

Water Harvesting
i. Greywater
· Re-using shower or washer water in the garden
· Re-using shower water to flush the toilet
ii. Rainwater barrels / tanks

2. Waste
i. Stop junk mail
ii. Buy in bulk or buy with less packaging
iii. Buy used goods (which usually don’t have packaging)
iv. Decrease disposables by replacing with reusables
· Cloth hankies
· Cloth bags
· Drink containers (Coffee cups/Water bottles)
· To-go boxes, plasticware and napkins
· Cloth TP
· Diva cup and cloth pads
· Cloth diapers (??)
· Composting
· Freecycling
· Municipal recycling

3. Consumer Goods
Resisting temptation
· Avoid watching TV
· Don’t go shopping
· Shop only with a list
· Resolve to postpone any purchase for one week
Make it last
· Buy durable, well-made goods
· Use smaller portions of items like shampoo, makeup (or use less often)
· Take care of machines and tools
Buy used
· Thrift stores
· Used book stores
· Consignment sales (ex: JBF sale for kids stuff)
· Craigslist
· Freecycle
· Family members
· Amazon (used)
Buy local
Don’t buy

· Do you need it?
· Do you have one already hidden somewhere in a closet?
· Borrow
· Rent
· Reduce disposables (see under waste)

4. Gasoline
Use your car more wisely
i. Trip reduction
· Planning & combining trips
· Shopping & researching via Internet
· Staycations
· Telecommuting / 4-day workweeks
ii. Carpool
iii. Drive efficiently
· Driving habits (speed, acceleration, braking, don’t idle)
· Car maintenance (spark plugs, air filters, oil changes)
· Tire inflation
Car alternatives
i. Biking
ii. Scooters
iii. Public Transport
Replace your low-mpg car with a (used) hybrid or other high-mpg vehicle

5. Heating Energy
Better technology
· More efficient furnaces
· Geothermal (aka ground source heat pump) units
· See renewables
Insulation and Weatherizing
· Get an energy audit
· Insulate attic and walls
· Insulate windows (quilt/thermal window coverings & bubble insulation)
· Seal leaks ("Great Stuff"/caulk/weather strips/draft dodgers)
· Seal HVAC ducts
· Turn it down/Turn it up - go extreme!
· Programmable thermostat
· Clothes, hats, shawls, blankets and hot water bottles keep you warm without the heater
Use renewable sources of energy
· Passive Solar techniques
· Solar heating panels
· Wood stoves (only EPA-certified efficient stoves, and sustainably harvested wood)

6. Electricity
Efficient technology
· Kill-A-Watt
· Energy Star appliances
· Laptops
· CFL’s
· Vampires
· Good habits
Appliance alternatives
· Sun Ovens
· Clotheslines
· Crockpots
· Haybox cookers
· Wood cookstoves
· Solar hot water
· Photovoltaics
· Solar Appliances
· Wind energy

7. Food
Use local sources
· Farmer’s Market
· Food Co-op
· Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Change your diet
· Less meat, less dairy
· Less imported food
· Less processed food
Grow your own
i. Permaculture food forests
· Fruit and nut trees
· Fruit shrubs & vines
· Perennial edible and medicinal herbs
ii. Gardening
· Building soil and composting
· Starting seeds
· Crop rotation
· Companion planning
· Season Extension
Raise your own
· Bees
· Chickens / Ducks / Rabbits
· Goats
Cook and preserve your food
i. Meal planning
ii. Making your own
· Baby food
· Cheese
· Yogurt
· Bread
iii. Preserving
· Root Cellering
· Drying
· Canning
· Fermenting
· Home-brewing

Special Topics
Rioting at work or with your business

Rioting with babies and kids
Home improvement and the Riot
Keeping up motivation
Tracking the Riot

Thank you to everyone for sharing your tips, ideas and experiences!


e4 said...

Great list, and great idea to put it together.

Not sure if these qualify as Quick-Start, but these are what I thought of...

Water conservation:
- Composting toilet (a la Humanure Handbook rather than one of those expensive applainces).
- Wearing clothes multiple times (until they're *dirty*) to cut down on laundry

Heating energy:
- Wood pellets, corn, cherry pits, etc.

- "chest fridge"
- Get rid of stuff you don't really need / use (old VCR, electric can opener, food processor)

- Grass-fed beef, pastured poultry

helwen said...

Big energy saver is hanging up laundry to dry. Outdoors if possible during warm weather, indoors in cold/wet weather.

It's dry here in the winter so the laundry doubles for humidifying the apartment. I also have some bowls and bottles with water in them, in particular on the few old-style radiators. And I also have a mister bottle that's mostly for the plants and for the rare occasions I iron, but sometimes I'll do a gentle misting (single shots) around the apartment to help raise the humidity without having to use an electric humidifier.

I do still sometimes put towels and always sheets in the dryer in the winter but everything else gets hung up. Dryers and irons are two very high energy appliances. If something's a little stiffer than I might like (like jeans), I can always beat it on one of the bed posts a few times but I don't really find it to be an issue. And towels can be snapped to soften them. Also, I don't bother with anti-static sheets -- I try to get the sheets out of the dryer before they're over-dried so it isn't an issue.

helwen said...

I know I gave my blog address and to look for things through the tags, but here's one on creative insulating that might be helpful in particular:

And yes, tried them all and they work.

Heather ("helwen)

Kiashu said...

1. buy electrical power from other non fossil fuel sources preferring in order: wind, geothermal, solar, hydroelectric, landfill gas or natural gas, waste burning, bagasse. Don't even think about nuclear or coal.

2. use cool drinks and fans not airconditioning, jumpers and hot drinks not heating, hang washing out to dry, change to CFLs and pull plugs out on appliances not in use

3. Don't fly in aircraft at all.

4. bye-bye cars: for a journey under 3 miles, walk. Under 10 miles, bike. Over that, public transport.

5. consume mainly fresh fruit and vegies, grains and legumes, avoid processed containerised food

6. reduce meat consumption to under 26lbs/year (0.5lbs/week)

7. for consumer goods, borrow rather than buy, secondhand rather than new

8. if available, use coppiced wood for heating/cooking, otherwise use that wind powered electricity, or if that's not available, use natural gas

and not reduction, but still a good thing to do:-

9. plant trees – don't pay someone else, plant them where you can watch them and know they'll be cared for.

Theresa said...

In terms of quick waste reduction, composting made a world of difference for me, and it's really easy. Waste is the only category where I've managed to reduce to less than 10% of the average.

Also quick and satisfying for me was going vegetarian, although I realize that won't be something everyone will do.

Similarly satisfying is Kiashu's recommendation to plant trees in your own yard/land or somewhere where you can take care of them yourself. A tree is a beautiful thing.

A quick start list is a great idea!

Tara said...

Do you have experience using greywater (from shower/washer) to irriagate gardens? We've discussed doing that but we're still unclear on whether it's safe to use on edibles. Beyond that, we're not sure what to do with our greywater. We have way more greywater than toilet flushes and we don't water our "lawn"...uh, ever. Right now the greywater is running out a pipe in to the grass. So we have one square of yard that's really green, even now. :)

Peak Oil Hausfrau said...

Hi Tara - I have used the "warm-up" shower water to water my edibles, no problem. But that is really just pure water. Since I have rainwater barrels I have more than enough to water the garden. But it would be nice to direct our greywater to the lawn during droughts....

There is a book out there by Art Ludwig that tells you how use greywater - "The New Creating an Oasis with Greywater". I'm thinking of getting it.

Anonymous said...

Couple of ideas...

-Put hot water heater on a timer
(We heat the water for a few hours each morning & evening - if we need fully hot water, there is a button to override the timer. We get fully hot water in about 10 mins. The water still remains hot to warm while the heater is off.)
-Insulate hot water heater
(We have not done this :-( yet, but plan to do it this year.)


Kiashu said...

I have put greywater on my garden for five years now. We don't have any fancy systems.

We have a bucket in the shower to catch the first cold gallon or so, that goes into the washing machine. Then the washing machine, I wait for it to drain, put a bucket under the pipe, wait till it fills, open the machine lid to stop the cycle, put the bucket on the garden, and so on.

If you do that, then the laundry powder or detergent you use is a concern. The cheap powders are bulked up with salts, but interestingly the cheapest liquids are among the lowest-salt. I don't know of studies of American brands, but a study of Aussie ones is here, and perhaps there's some brands in common.

Basically if you use a cheap powder you'll kill your plants with salts from the greywater, if you use a cheap liquid then it'll be fine.

Some people say that you ought not to use greywater on your vegetables, particularly your leafy greens, because OH MY GOD THOSE CLOTHES WERE NEAR YOUR DIRTY DIRTY SKIN DISEASE DEATH OH NO. However we've been doing it for five years and eating the spinach and are still alive, and when I asked people to point to a single case mentioned in a medical journal of someone getting sick from eating vegies watered with greywater, there was a loud silence.

Water-saving tips here. :)

Kate@LivingTheFrugalLife said...

Well, it's just one small idea, but today I posted the results of my attempt to make my own apple "cider" vinegar from the apple pomace leftover from cider making. Turns out you can make pretty decent vinegar from what would otherwise just be compost bin material.

Haven't tried it, but I imagine it would work well with apple cores saved up slowly or from making a pie.

Knowing what I now do, I figure I could easily make a year's supply of vinegar (and we use a lot) after next fall's apple pressing, if only I had the containers to do it in.

Making your own vinegar with tap water and apple "waste" has got to be more energy efficient than hauling the liquid hither and yon.

Tara said...

Thanks for the grey water input. I'll look into it more. My biggest concern is the soaps, detergents and such in the water, and whether it would (a) kill the plants or (b) make them not so safe to eat. We use mostly all natural products, but still, I'd like to know for sure.

Jennie said...

Hmm.. I farm worms in my kitchen. This isn't a huge thing, but it is pretty easy. I have a large rubbermaid container with red worms in it and during the winters when my compost piles are frozen I put all my organic waste in the worm bin. In the spring I have 10-15 pounds of worm castings that's free. Works great to fertilize container plants or general gardening.

I'm currently half way through my first year of Rioting and I'm expecting a baby. You had a ?? by the cloth diapers in you post. So here's what I figured in my research.
1) You can buy a cloth diaper stash that is used. Places like or hyenacart sell gently used diapers.
2) You can make organic cloth diapers. This is one of the routes I'm taking. I invested in 200$ worth of organic bamboo fabric and organic hemp terry cloth and I'm going to sew together a decent chunk of the diaper stash from it. Sounds like a lot of money, but 200$ is like a months worth of disposable diapers. These will last much longer than a month.
3) Cloth diapers can be washed in cold and dried outside. One of the best stain removers for cloth diapers is the sun! Plus, the detergents made to keep diapers soft and chemical free on baby's skin are some of the greenest detergents on the market.

So, not sure why the ?? by the cloth diaper in your post, but they are definitely part of my riot plan with baby.
The rest of the rioting with baby is pretty standard. Used baby furniture, used clothing, baby shares the one bedroom with hubby and I, (we are not moving to a bigger house just for baby,) and breastfeeding.

If anyone is interested in how the diaper making goes, I should be posting the first steps on my blog after this weekend.