Friday, January 27, 2006

Where Will It All End?


This is the EarthQuaker's washing machine. I'm going to replace the horrible plastic seat with an old leather Brooks Saddle that the former resident of this house gave me when he moved out. I think that it would pedal more efficiently with a longer set of cranks, but since I only have to pedal it for twenty minutes a week to take care of making my clothes as clean as they really need to be, I can probably just live with it.

The contraption is an unholy union of a discarded exercise bike and a 1930's era Maytag washer, complete with 'mangle' for wringing clothes. It was a student sustainability project which I oversaw at the Woolman Semester (www.woolman.org). When the students researched the ecological footprint of doing laundry, they actually found that it takes more energy to heat the water for warm or hot laundry loads than it takes to run the washing mashine for agitation and spinning. So, cold water and pedal powered agitation and wringing make up a pretty earth-Friendly way to get the clothes clean.

But what about refrigeration? Running this computee? Reading lights and the electric toothbrush? Can the EarthQuaker live an ecologically responsible life without running nekkid in the woods, eating grubs and berries? Where will it all end?

14 Comments:

Blogger Robin M. said...

I don't believe you have an electric toothbrush.

The computer is hard - even if you found a way to recharge the batteries using your exercise bike, I would think the mining and manufacture of the battery would still be pretty high cost.

When I was a young and single, carefree woman there was a year or so when I washed all my clothes by hand in cold water, with bars of this really caustic soap. This was also the year that I decided that hot running water is my FAVORITE luxury. O the glory of a hot shower after months of cold baths by the cistern. O the relief of having a hot water electric washing machines in my much later days of dirty diapers.

8:32 PM, March 18, 2006  
Blogger earthfreak said...

I don't believe you have an electric toothbrush either.

Where the heck was this post?? I know it wasnt' up here in January!!!!!


I wash all my clothes in cold water, but I have to admit to having a washing machine and now even a dryer!!! (that I use! It's terrible. I didn't have one, but I now have a tenant who uses one, and found me a free one, and there it is, so convenient. In summer I can hang clothes outside, but in winter it's more trouble (they wouldnt' dry outside, and I would get frostbite trying to hang them up, and I don't have that much space in my house, that a drying rack can be set up much of the time)

I also have a refridgerator, which I think is pretty inefficient (but then, how destructive is it to buy a new one?) I don't have a computer of my own (I have one at work, and access to my sweetie's, which is plenty, I may also take on her old one, which doesn't even have wifi! gasp!) I do have a TV, but so far I've only watched the oscars on it.

I can't imagine washing dirty diapers by hand, and I do loooooooove hot baths myself! (though my water heater is set pretty low, and I think of getting an on-demand one when it needs to be replaced, which probably won't be soon....)


I really like the exercise bike idea for powering things - there seem to be so many of them around, too. what else could you reasonably power with an exercise bike??? (I assume you'd have to be quite a jock to keep a computer running, for example)

peace

Pam

12:08 PM, March 22, 2006  
Blogger Carl Magruder said...

I actually do have an electric toothbrush, for reasons of periodontal health. However, I only charge it when it asks to be charged, and I only plug in the charger when I'm charging the toothbrush, to avoid "phantom loads." My dad bought an Energy Star fridge last year and it dropped his electric bill by some crazy amount, like 32%. There is the issue of new product manufacturing, though, and old product recycling. Quandaries, quandaries...

You can power a small TV with an exercycle. This is very good if you want to regulate your kids' TV watching--they will have to want to watch the show bad enough to pedal dor it, they won't get obese and diabetic, and they probably won't pedal during commercials, and therefor won't ask you to buy them useless stuff! Of course, you could also just have no TV--works for me!

1:08 PM, March 22, 2006  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Hey, we had a nice supper with your dad last Sunday! We talked a bit about blogging, and I think I convinced him that you have the spam under control on yours and it is safe to get back in the water.

As for the date of posting, I suspect that Carl started this post a while back but then didn't bother to change the date when he actually posted it.

We have no TV at our house, and this works quite well not only at preventing tv watching but also video game playing. Although we are not opposed to our kids watching or playing at other people's houses - I put tv in the same category as ice cream - it's not so bad in moderation, but I don't keep it in the house.

2:07 PM, March 22, 2006  
Blogger earthfreak said...

No ice cream in the house! Now there I do differ! (okay, but I'm getting better at the moderation thing, and it's usually soy ice cream these days)

I had no clue that electric toothbrushes still existed. I thought they were simply a fad from my childhood.

I did hang up my clothes on the rack today rather than using the dryer. I feel so pure. It was shocking to me, that my gas bill went up about $15 (or 3o%, in summer) when we got the dryer (but then my tenant started doing his wash there too, and he's a hot water addict.


Carl, all of your struggling for righteousness (and against self righteousness) and balance really speaks to me. One of the hardest things for me to realize (and continue to realize) is that it's impossible (and likely not desirable) to be totally "pure" - but that there are big differences to be made my acting with conscience somewhere in the middle.....

peace
Pam

7:32 AM, March 23, 2006  
Blogger Carl Magruder said...

It is challenging, isn't it? Jesus warned the Jews continually against a legalistic piety, on the one hand. On the other, he said things like, "Forsake thy mother and father and go with me," which I think is less about family relations than it is to say, "Even that to which you are most attached, and that it seems appropriate for you to be attached to is secondary to your living a faithful life." How, then, can I not Forsake my Isuzu and follow?

Woolman said that "Love is the first motion," but the second motion was right action--a system of ethics based on "Pure Wisdom" which did include what I believe was an equivalent level of comfort/convenience, and taking on of peculiarity to our trying to live sustainably today, at least subjectively--his struggle wouldn't have been easier for him, even if it looks easier from where I sit.

George Fox never said, "Wear thy sword as long as thou canst," but all of these people went through a process. Where the bleep was Jesus for the 30 years between his birth and his ministry, after all? With Gandhi, MLK, Dorothy Day, John Woolman, Lucretia Mott and Thomas Merton, we know a little about their development into spiritual activists. It's a process.

I think that what I want is to be wrestling, moving forward, and seeking, rather than trying to set some rules that I can follow. The other piece that I know is that the joy of living in integrity is a much more profound experience than self-righteousness affords. There are the little joys of a bicycle ride to town on a clear Spring day, and the larger joy of communion with the Whole, which is impaired for me when I am acting out of a paradigm that says that I am separate from the water system, the hummingbird, the woman harvesting rice, the horror in Darfur.

What I am interested in now is exploring the possibility of Community as the best green technology we have. What could better facilitate the living into of new Truth than a spiritual community dedicated to doing just that?

8:07 AM, March 23, 2006  
Blogger earthfreak said...

Carl -

I'm very interested in that too - Community as green technology, and would like to hear more of your thoughts on it.

I have always been drawn to the idea of living in community, but haven't tried it since I lived in a big co-op house where my indoor cat got let out and hit by a car.

At the same time I am frequently frustrated by the immense waste of my single lifestyle - a refrigerator, bathroom, washing machine, dryer, all just for me. I'd like to live in community where we could share the technology that we decided to use, and thus lessen its per-capita impact, and also where the abundance of human resource (strength, intelligence, etc) might help us to radically lessen the technology that we do decide to use.

I haven't even imagined much what a community with a spiritual eco-commitment would look like. I feel like the two are intertwined (well, integrated) for me, but I rarely find kindred spirits on that particular issue.

And the hardest part of community is, for me, like with my cat, what do you do about things that are very important to you as an individual, but not very much so to other members of the community? It's impossible to find 10, 20, 100 people with exactly the same values, how close can you get? How close do you even want to get? what do you do about discrepancies???

peace
Pam

7:38 AM, March 24, 2006  
Blogger QuakerK said...

In thinking about these issues, I've been struck by how much difference the community you live in makes a difference. For example, a similar lifestyle in Europe would have a much smaller footprint than in the US. So perhaps we shouldn't just be thinking about individual actions (though we shouldn't ignore them, I think).

I sympathize with your comment on legalistic piety. I've sometimes thought that the point is to be transformed, totally, and if that is done, everything else will follow. Not clear what to do in the meantime, though.

David

2:19 PM, March 24, 2006  
Blogger QuakerK said...

In thinking about these issues, I've been struck by how much difference the community you live in makes a difference. For example, a similar lifestyle in Europe would have a much smaller footprint than in the US. So perhaps we shouldn't just be thinking about individual actions (though we shouldn't ignore them, I think).

I sympathize with your comment on legalistic piety. I've sometimes thought that the point is to be transformed, totally, and if that is done, everything else will follow. Not clear what to do in the meantime, though.

David

2:20 PM, March 24, 2006  
Blogger QuakerK said...

In thinking about these issues, I've been struck by how much difference the community you live in makes a difference. For example, a similar lifestyle in Europe would have a much smaller footprint than in the US. So perhaps we shouldn't just be thinking about individual actions (though we shouldn't ignore them, I think).

I sympathize with your comment on legalistic piety. I've sometimes thought that the point is to be transformed, totally, and if that is done, everything else will follow. Not clear what to do in the meantime, though.

David

2:20 PM, March 24, 2006  
Blogger Carl Magruder said...

Pam-
I love your queries on community. I will do a little exploration soon, and post it here...
-Carl

2:48 PM, March 24, 2006  
Anonymous Mica said...

Wow. This is a really interesting dialogue on the ideas of moderation, community and piety. This last month I visited a friend with cancer and she is regulating the type of food she eats (mostly raw, living veggies) and her environment in a rather radical fashion. I started to think about food and environment more and all the conflicting information about what is healthy and what is not. Taught in my American school to memorize and respect the "religion of science" (by which objective lines are reasonably drawn between thing such as plants and animal) I continue to look for lines between all types of concepts. But, as we probably all know, most lines are really fuzzy when you start to look at them up close. Maybe the lines are fuzzy because ultimately everything is very interconnected -- our intentions, our actions, etc. Maybe not using the dryer has more than one effect -- we use less energy and we send out into the universe the message that we care. Both may have energetic effects. And, even when we use our dryers, perhaps we need to at least use it with the consciousness that our earth is paying a price for that usage. I think that this is different than just taking it for granted. Which brings me to the idea that the community in which we live provides us with both opportunities to curb our use of certain redundant items but also supports a more conscious mindset -- both of which, in my opinion, affect the energy and sustainability of our world.

How's that for a opus Mr. Magruder?

6:12 PM, April 02, 2006  
Blogger Robin M. said...

So I ran into another Friend of yours who said that when you first got that bike-pedaled washing machine, it was declared too hard to use, by better eco-freaks than me. (or should I say more committed Gaia-care folks) One image John used was that you'd have to use it naked or you'd sweat so hard that you'd end up behind in your laundry again. And that doesn't sound fun on a hard plastic saddle.

So did you make some changes to the contraption or did you just lower your standards for clean clothes?

9:06 AM, April 22, 2006  
Blogger Carl Magruder said...

Neither, Robin. I haven't modified the contraption, and my standards for clean clothes are as low as they can go. Nope, I just got tougher....

1:55 PM, April 22, 2006  

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