A while back we were having a conversation about things we’d have to do differently in a solar powered home. I said that I’d like to start changing some habits now…. like not using a microwave, or toaster, or having the computer on all day. I was surprised at Zach’s reaction to the computer. “How will we look things up when we want to?” I said that we could have a running list during the day, jotting things down as we thought of them. Then when we used the computer we might be more choosy about the things we actually looked up. We might think some of the things weren’t as important after having time to think of them, thereby decreasing the amount of time we actually needed to spend looking things up.
Anyway, I’ve started having the computer off a lot more often. Sometimes I don’t turn it on at all. Sometimes I turn it on for a little while in the afternoon or evening. Sometimes I turn it on in the morning and off after an hour or so. The kids don’t notice AT ALL. When they ask to look something up I just say I’ll write it down for later. I don’t even point out that the computer isn’t on. I notice that the dead screen also decreases the amount that the little boys ask to watch videos (things like “The Modern Major General” or songs from BNL’s Snacktime), and computer games. The rotating screen saver, mostly pictures of themselves, seems to be a trigger that the computer is on….. and calling. Personally, I notice a big difference having the computer off. There isn’t that pull to look something up – instantly, or to send of a quick email (that can often lead into more time spent at the computer), or to check if the library has a book. I feel that it is a disruptive force, pulsing it’s way into my thoughts and time. A quick note reminding myself of something to do online later, and then a focused time doing those specific things, seems a much more efficient use of my time.
The only disadvantage right now is that the computer is also our music system – we don’t have any other stereo (except my little nine dollar AM/FM radio/cassette player…. not much use for CDs).
Moving on to other appliances….. we’ve only run the dishwasher once in the past month. The boys are having to “do time” and they are getting much faster! Graeme still does a lot, and I try harder to keep up on them more during the day. (Not a strength!) I enjoy drying along side the boys as they wash in the evenings. I also enjoy that the dishes are, by and large, a lot cleaner than when they go through the dishwasher.
When we moved down here we were planning to go microwave free. One was not going to be left here, and we purposely included ours in the sale of our house. However, plans changed and one was left here. A few weeks ago, it started to malfunction. It was when I got home from camping. At first the buttons worked temperamentally, then when it finally started it beeped randomly all throughout running. After a couple of days of this it stopped working altogether. Alas, our delayed microwave free plans became a reality. And I have to say, I rely on it a lot less than I thought. I do have to be a little more careful about making sure I have things out of the freezer in plenty of time. But I think I was already so aware of how I used it, how I wanted to stop using it, and what that would mean, I really don’t feel a loss or inconvenience or even an adjustment period. I do want to get a few more small pots and dishes for reheating food, melting butter, etc. But even here, I am finding that a metal measuring cup or a small stainless steel mixing bowl works great over the element. I’m trying to think of the best option for reheating in the oven and not having to use aluminum foil to cover things. I’m thinking small cast iron cookware with lids. I want things that are multi-use (stove top and oven) and long lasting.
Small steps, maybe, but steps toward energy efficiency, simplicity, and turning the drudgery of daily chores into quality family time. One small step at a time. (One might argue that not having these things is more complicated, but consider how frustrating it is when these things don’t work, or rob us of time we’d like to have spent in a better way, or instill unhealthy habits in us and our children, or cause harmful changes to the food we eat.)