The first figures for my challenge are from my water bill. Yesterday I told you the goal for water usage was 10 gallons per person per day.
For the months of February and March my usage was 207 and 213 respectively. My usage rose some since last year. I added a washing machine to do my laundry where last year I sent out all my larger items (to my lovely daughter-in-law) to have them washed. Also, from June until March of this year I had my son and granddaughter staying with me every weekend, using my shower, flushing the toilet and washing up. With those things in mind, I’m not real concerned about the increase.
In February I used an average of 6.9 gallons of water, March that number rose to 7.1. I’m satisfied with that number. In March I had a houseful of people which left me with multiple loads of bedding to wash which I believe accounts for that spike.
I don’t have the numbers for my electricity at this moment but I know those figures are very low. I also feel good knowing that I participate in two programs which offsets my usage in renewable energy. One program matches my usage with solar and the other wind. The first program charges me a set amount based on my usage. The company wasn’t thrilled to learn I used so little electric because they only receive $4.95 a month from me. The other program is through my provider and I pay $.02 per Kwh more to participate.
There are other changes coming.
One has been on my mind a lot lately and I can’t shake it.
Eliminating the internet in my home.
Several things happened around the same time.
- The internet can be a huge time waster. I have to avoid turning on the computer early in the day or soon I’ll find hours have passed and nothing was accomplished.
- I’ve been hacked one too many times for my liking and it’s making me angry.
- My provider has been having problems with delivering our service. I’ve been without internet as much as three days in a row but the company does not adjust their customers bills when this happens. Effectively, I’m paying for something I don’t have.
- Congress now allows Internet Providers to sell our internet histories to companies who want to target us with ads while we are online. This bothers me because my privacy is being sold and because my provider will continue to charge me the same amount while making a bundle from advertisers.
- Internet providers can be a bit shady, more on this in a moment.
- A little known fact about the internet is that all the servers that run 24/7 burn huge amounts of fossil fuels, it’s not a sustainable technology. “The internet releases around 300m tonnes of CO2 a year – as much as all the coal, oil and gas burned in Turkey or Poland, or more than half of the fossil fuels burned in the UK” Or “Around 300 million tonnes of CO2 per year, equivalent to every person in the UK flying to America and back twice over.” (source)
It was the last fact, the huge waste of fossil fuels, that has me looking at my modem and thinking it’s time to send it back. I feel deceived by this realization. In one of Bill McKibben’s books he argued that he would give up anything but the internet because it would be key to keeping societies connected and running. For a man who has spent his career preaching about the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, why would he argue for the internet knowing it’s environmental cost?
This doesn’t mean I would be internet free, all my bills are paid online. I’m not sure I could in this day and age but I can limit my carbon footprint on the internet.I still have a smart phone with data and I could take my computer to the library to use their Wi-Fi. The idea of using the library to connect when needed has me thinking this might be a good thing. It would give me a reason to get out of the house and maybe I’d meet some new people.
My son tells me I’m crazy. He points out that I shop online. This is true. I purchase toilet paper and gifts for Christmas and birthdays using the internet. I figure I could carry my laptop to the library and purchase everything I need for the year at one time and call it done. Plus as part of the challenge by Riot for Austerity my consumer spending allowance is no more than $1,000 a year, so doing all my shopping for the year in one afternoon will make it very easy to see how much I spend.
I mentioned above that internet providers can be shady, they will do anything they can to keep their customers. My son used to pay only for the internet, his bill was $40 a month. Then he added cable to get sports and his bill went to $79. He just found out that YouTube now has a subscription service ($35 a month) where you can get all your local programming. He called his provider and asked to cancel his cable. The customer service rep informed him if he eliminated the cable his bill would go up to $90 a month for the internet!! Talk about shady.
In 2005, I cut the internet. I had promised myself that unless I was earning an income using the internet there was no reason to have another bill to pay. I even went so far as to sell my computer. For six years I never touched a computer (and I didn’t have a smart phone then either).
As the thought of eliminating internet service in my home keeps popping up, I think back to those six years. I was happy, productive and never missed what I didn’t have.
It’s a pain to shut off service. There’s equipment to return for starters. If I decided I wanted to hook back up there are connection fees as well. For that reason I’ve set May 31st as the date to come up with an answer. In the meantime, I’m taking a good hard look at what I have stored on those servers. I have an old blog with 4000 photos and over 600 posts that I never deleted. Storing all that information knowing the environmental costs has me working to download my content and finally delete the blog. I’ll probably clean up this one as well and leave only the best material here for posterity if I decide pulling the plug is the right thing for me to do.
I’ll keep you posted…..