My name is Tom and I have been a recovering consumer for five years. Since I’m new here, I’d like to let you know a little bit about myself.
Not long ago, I was a Typical American Consumer. I bought what I wanted, and threw out what I didn’t. I rolled my eyes at people who disapproved. I consumed. I drove a V6 car that got 21 MPG. I got an automatic lawn sprinkler and a snow blower. My wife and I bought every plastic item required to raise a happy, well-adjusted child in America. I took long showers. I flew cross-country every few weeks for work. I threw my towels on hotel floors. And yes, I used incandescent light bulbs.
But, in 2004 I read Paul Roberts’ End of Oil. That was the beginning of my awakening from the affliction facing so many of us Typical American Consumers. I learned that our American ways are not sustainable. I also saw why gas was going to become so expensive and bought a Toyota Prius. The Prius enlightened me, but, not because of the hybrid engine — it has a real-time MPG monitor, right there, in your face. The monitor has greatly improved my mileage. At better than 50 MPG, the Prius uses less than half the gasoline of the car it replaced. Could it be that I could make similar changes to the way I lived?
End of Oil says just five percent less could make a difference. Five percent seemed entirely reasonable and plausible. In 2005, I started a green blog named FivePercent, recording the changes I made. The blog’s name sucks, but the results are good.
As it turns out, conservation doesn’t require huge sacrifice, or cost, or effort. I turned out lights and switched to CFLs where they worked well. I figured out how to keep our lawn green without the sprinkler (and I mow less, too). I wash clothes with cold water. I have a great low-flow shower head. I think about my food choices. Simple stuff. Most of my changes have come from becoming aware of when I am wasting. I consume a lot better now: much less of what we don’t need, but also needing and wanting less. My household now uses 50% less electricity than before (yes, half as much!). It’s truly amazing how much you can waste without realizing it.
I am still a recovering consumer. My life isn’t sustainable by any measure (yet), but I’m moving in the right direction. And with the money I have saved, I can buy that 60,000 BTU Weber Grill. Or maybe a tankless hot water heater (how cool is that?)