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Posts Tagged ‘efficiency’

When I first got to Washington to start my new job, I had to look all freshly scrubbed and nicely attired. And I was…except for my shoes. I walk with purpose, and my shoes look like I walk with purpose. To the outside observer they might also looked old and scuffed. But these were nice shoes (Nunn & Bush), so I certainly wasn’t going to throw them away. The only other option was to fix them. What they needed was to be re-stained (or dyed or whatever it’s called).

For about three seconds I considered doing it myself, then I pulled out my iphone and began to look for a cobbler. Yes, a cobbler. That word evokes images of an old Danish man dressed in a frock and hunched over a table, pounding tiny nails into the sole of a leather boot. As I typed cobbler into google maps, I wondered how far I would have to drive to find one.

There were three in downtown Everett. Apparently, people in Everett still take their shoes in to get repaired.

So I took my shoes in for their tanning (or dyeing or whatever) where I had to wait in line to get served. A line. At a cobbler’s. Who was neither old nor hunched. Nor Danish, for that matter. Bottom line: $25 bucks for both shoes. When I picked them up they looked like new. Which is a big savings compared to actually buying them new for $85 a pair.

This event got me to thinking (as pretty much every event does; it’s the philosopher in me): what if we applied the cobbler methodology to other things, like computers? First, let me explain what I mean by cobbler methodology. It’s simply this: just because something is old, worn, or even broken doesn’t necessitate throwing it away. It can be fixed, often to look and feel like new; sometimes it can even be made better than the original.

What if Apple took up this methodology? (I’m using them as an example for a few reasons: a) they’re super geekilicious; b) their new laptops are cut from a solid block of aluminum, making them very durable; c) they’re rapidly adopting green production methods). Instead of designing their computers to allow for minimal expansion, modification, or replacement, they could make them modular and significantly upgradable. Then, instead of buying a whole new laptop every time there’s an advance in, say, processor speeds, you just take it to your neighborhood Apple Store and have one of their icobblers swap out the processor for a new one. No need to waste all of those precious materials by tossing out the whole unit. Just adopt the cobbler methodology and extend the useful life of a resource-intensive product by years, maybe decades.

I realize that this is a return to the way that many computers (mostly PCs) used to be made. In fact, some still are made this way. The difference is the way in which it’s done. Formalize it; standardize it; coolifize it. Make a statement while making a positive change for our planet.

How’s that sound, Apple? You in?

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First, can someone please tell me why I decided not to get a dryer in the middle of the rainy season? Still, I have managed to hold my laundromat trips to a minimum; two precisely. And that was to dry the thicker towels and blankets. I do believe that in the nearly 2 months I have not had a dryer, that is pretty good, don’t you think?

The clothesline Samson and Jeanne made works wonderfully.

Mostly.

We are still working out a few kinks, but in the end I will have the coolest line on the block! Then everyone will be jealous. Kind of like an episode of “Desperate Housewives,” without all the makeup, drama, or women.

The secret? It is really all about time management.

I put the clothes on the line during the sunniest part of the day; for us that is mid-morning to mid-afternoon, after the fog has burned off and before it rolls back in. I leave around 8am to take Logan to school, so I throw a load in the wash before I go and then by the time I get home the clothes can go on the line to dry.

I also have found that one load a day is the best answer. I have never been a “separator.” All my clothes are washed together in warm/cold with a gentle, environmentally friendly detergent and rinsed with a little bit of white vinegar (LOVE that stuff!), so having one load a day is really no problem. Oh, and as for whites, the sun is amazing for making the whites white.

The only problem is if I am not home to do the one load a day, it backs up on me and I am back to stringing up another clothesline on the back porch. That’s when I miss the dryer. I suppose I could just have Samson stand in the laundry room and breathe hot air over them…LOL!

Now I am off to hang some clothes….no really!

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So…we have electric central heating. Dumbest thing ever. You should see the meter spin when the heater is running. In the winter it drives our electric bill from $60/month to $360. Last January our bill was $626. Yep. Innnnnn-sane.

Something had to change.

So I went on an energy-saving crusade:

  • I started unplugging appliances (like the coffee pot) and electronics (like the entertainment center) at night
  • I bought a space heater that uses as much juice as a toaster
  • We put on a sweatshirt before we turn on the heater
  • Denette made draft dodgers (She’s writing a how-to post)

Our electric bill dropped from $343 to $141 in the first month.

Then our electric dryer broke. Now I’m keenly awaiting our next bill to see how much that has managed to knock off.

You know what’s cool? Realizing just how much control I have over my conditions. I can, if I choose, save significant amounts of money by making small lifestyle changes. Okay, the dryer/clothesline switch is a BIG lifestyle change. But the others are not. The others are simple and straightforward. And an immediate boost to the budget.

Now, what to do with the extra $? Debt reduction or Hawai’i? Hmmmmmm…

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I had an astute friend ask me to track expenses on the projects we’re doing. With the economy at the forefront of everyone’s minds, I think that’s a great idea. We can demonstrate in very real terms how much it costs (or saves!) to do the sustainable thing.

I’ve placed the tracker on the TV Episodes page. It’s pretty rough right now, but I’ll refine it as time goes on. One of the things I can already think of is how to demonstrate savings as well. For instance, we haven’t used our electric dryer for three weeks. I’m sure that’s saved us some substantial pocket change.

Let me know if you can think of anything else we should be tracking—financially or otherwise.

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