Ours was a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and I hope yours were too. With the passing of the holidays it is time to clear our the decorations, especially the more flammable ones. The family loved having a fragrant and green Christmas tree in our home.
A few years ago we insulated our home's attic which made a huge difference in our heating bills. At the time we didn't insulate above the garage because I thought it was unconditioned space. But, the walls between our kitchen/living room and laundry room are poorly insulated - allowing lots of heat transfer between the house and garage. That makes the garage "indirectly-conditioned space" and in dire need of insulation.
Recycle it instead. Yes, we FINALLY got rid of the big old CRT TV. We had added a digital converter box and kept on using the old, but functional, tube TV for years. A good friend pushed us into the digital TV era with a hand-me-down, but quite decent LED digital TV (I'm not a luddite, really!). This left us with an electronic white elephant to kill recycle.
Out with the old, in with the new. We've replaced much of the flooring in our house (more on that here) and removed some very worn carpet. Before ripping out the carpet, carpet pad, cactus-like tack strips and hundreds of staples and nails I looked into recycling the old carpet. It turns out that you can recycle carpet (at least some kinds) but as usual for us, it required an extra effort.
I hate to throw away "perfectly good" things even when they're a bit scruffy. Case in point, my road bike. I bought this bike from a friend many years ago and have put quite a few miles on it. After a couple of years I re-painted it and replaced some worn parts. Well, after a decade or so of riding it desperately needed another overhaul. Now I have a friend with powdercoating equipment and I've restored the bike to better than ever.
Santa Feans recycle less than 10% of all possible materials that instead go to a landfill. When the national average for recycling is 34% why is the rate in eco-conscious Santa Fe county so low? Because recycling in Santa Fe is a pain in the ass. To illustrate, a friend created this flow chart for visiting relatives to explain what items could be recycled and what couldn't. At first I laughed, because recycling really is this ridiculously complicated in Santa Fe. Then I had a realization.
Why is it that recycling so often feels like an obligation and not like fun? I've discovered that recycling is a lot more fun when it pays cash. I made a trip to a local scrap metal yard today and exchanged aluminum window trim and a leaky stainless steel tank for cold, hard cash. The line of pickups carrying scrap metal into the yard made it clear that quite a few folks already know about the profitable side of recycling.
Just in Time Production is a popular manufacturing strategy with the MBA crowd. It's also a popular strategy for the procrastinators among us. At the Santa Fe Master Gardener's Fair this spring I saw a simple demonstration of how to build an inexpensive (Woo Hoo!) rainbarrel.
Our family listens to a lot of public radio and we even have three local stations to choose from. While I'm not a big fan of pledge drives, I understand the need for them. Recently, I've heard public radio (and TV) stations promoting Car Donation programs as another form of listener support. It just happens that we had an older car that was, ahem, 'fully depreciated' and worth almost nothing as a trade-in.
It's been a tough week or so here at the EcoFamily homestead. Our ~16 year old (yes, it really lasted that long) drip coffee maker died. Don't worry, we didn't go without coffee. But, my skill at coarse grinding coffee beans with a 'whirly-blade' grinder for french press coffee has much room for improvement. Of course, I did try to repair the old coffee maker, but the thermistor that died didn't have any useful markings.