Day 11 Update

Well, it’s getting better.

I’m getting more experienced as to what food makes sense to buy in terms of price, flavor and how long it lasts sitting on the counter–gotta love sweet potatoes.  Thanks to a solar/crank lantern my dad got for camping, I don’t have to use hot candles as my light source at night, and I even think I’m adapting to the no A/C thing.  It’s still uncomfortable fairly often, but I would no longer call it miserable like I would have during the first several days.

(For those of you that are curious–I do these blog posts on public computers at the library, because people use them all day and they are constantly on, so I see it as the public transportation of computers.)

I do occasionally forget that I can’t throw things away and use a paper towel to dry my hands at work, but I’m getting better.  I have a list of things that I’ve thrown away or recycled and it’s really short.  Most of the things were from my “Oh god what do I eat, I have no idea what I’m doing, this is organic and local I’m buying it anyway even with the plastic wrap” phases of the first week.

Things I’ve had to bend the rules on: I have to use oil to cook sometimes.  A lot of vegetables that I buy local and organic and sans wrapping would burn without oil, so I use a little bit of canola oil (produced in the USA/canada, as opposed to olive oil which must be transported over from Europe).  Also, I bought bread this weekend.  It was from a local bakery, and I bought it without wrapping, and all ingredients were local except the flour.  It is next to impossible to get local flour, it just isn’t really grown here.  I felt guilty, but I hadn’t had carbs in a week, and I was feeling it.  I tried to run a few times during week 1 and I physically couldn’t. I think it was from not getting enough energy, simply.  So I “caved” you could say and bought a loaf, but it was delicious and I was able to make it last (surprisingly, it didn’t start to mold) until today.

Update on total mileage biked up through today: 165.5 miles.


  1. This is incredible. I am truly impressed at the lengths you’re going for research. When I saw the abstract, I completely breezed over your commitment to this environmentally conscious, green woman, survivor-styled regime. I am sad to have missed it the first time. Out of curiosity, what if you tried baking bread? Is it breaking the rules to buy the unprocessed but transported flour from whole foods grocery stores? It’s not hard, and it sounds like you could use the calories.

    As a sidenote, this has become my incidental inspiration. Whenever I feel stonewalled on my research, I check this blog and get perspective.

  2. This is a really interesting project and I am looking forward to see how it turns out after your 3 weeks. I was wondering more about the logistics of what you’re doing. Did your parents turn off the A/C for the whole house and are suffering with you? Are they allowed to use appliances, hot water, etc. and are you keeping track of how much energy they use? And do you think this is a feasible way of life outside of the short period of time that you are doing it? Or are you simply looking for the best and simplest way to reduce energy consumption?

  3. msteague says:

    Haha, that is an excellent point you bring up. My parents are being incredible. They are doing a lot of the same things I am. They don’t use A/C when I’m at their houses and they eat a lot of the same thing I’m eating. However, they use lights and take hot showers and things like that. They both still use their cars, and eat normally for lunch when we are all at work. It’s been a struggle though. The first weekend I was reading in the living room and it was pretty dang hot. My mom was wandering around looking miserable so I told her she could turn the fan on and I’d just go to a different room. She said it was fine. I asked her again,was she sure? Her response “No, I’m not sure! And I’m not sure I don’t want to go the store and buy pudding!” So, needless to say there are ups and downs. Cooking in the dark (with one solar powered lantern) at night and in the morning isn’t fun for anyone, but they still use the washing machine and other appliances like that, so they have it a little better.

    I’m not keeping track of their energy usage, because it’s out of my control. I refuse to tell them (nor would they listen) that they can’t use hot water and must hand-wash their clothes (which is a nightmare), etc. but at the same time, I don’t think my energy usage should include theirs, since I’m not the one using the appliances.

    As far as whether or not this is feasible to do long-term, that’s what I’m trying to figure out. I only have one week left (thank god) so I’ve been thinking a lot about what practices I’ll keep and which I’ll toss out the window. For example, washing clothes by hand is awful. It takes forever, is way more exhausting than you’d expect and no matter how hard I try I don’t get my clothes as clean as my washing machine. Furthermore, I use a ton of water washing by hand. So it’s not realistic (or even very environmentally beneficial) to keep washing clothes by hand. However, I do plan do keep biking more than using a car–although to be fair, I already did that pre-project–and I’m very conscious of where what I eat comes from. After I’m done with the 3 weeks, I’m going to compare how much I missed each appliance, etc. to how much energy each uses, as a way of isolating things that use a lot of energy and that I found it fairly easy to live without. These are practices that are realistic (and worth doing). I will still use lights because the amount of energy they use just isn’t worth try to cook, wash clothes, and shave my legs in the semi-darkness. Believe me!

  4. msteague says:

    That’s a really good point. I have thought about baking my own bread, but there is only one place in the area that grows wheat locally. I saw that there was some of their flour sold at the local grocery store, but it was about $10 for less than 2 cups of flour, I kid you not. Also, it was packaged in plastic. So, I’d have to spend an arm and a leg to buy flour, and then still by yeast (packaged), use salt (not local) and cook (uses power). So while on it’s own any one of these things isn’t terrible, occasionally I must buy foods with a little packaging, despite my best efforts not to. And I do cook, but only because a lot of things I buy aren’t edible raw. But I just don’t think baking my own bread would be worth it. Instead, I buy it at the local farmer’s market from a local baker. They use organic ingredients that are local for the most part, except for the flour, which they buy in bulk to decrease the cost, packaging and transportation. I think that buying it this way is really the best way to do it.

    Thank you so much! I really appreciate that a lot!