Archive for December, 2009

SIREN call for energy conservation

SIREN Energy Showdown posterThe Southern Indiana Renewable Energy Network (SIREN) is a local group dedicated to increasing the amount of renewable energy used in the area. This is an especially important goal around here, since almost all of our power is currently produced by coal.

Maggie and I have gone to one or two meetings and found them very interesting. Their focus appears to be primarily solar energy, with several group members getting together to buy solar panels in bulk. Unfortunately, even then solar panels are expensive since Indiana doesn’t have any solar incentives. As near as we’ve been able to figure, our break-even period would be over 30 years, which makes it hard to justify.

Recently, however, SIREN has begun advertising the SIREN Energy Showdown. The goal of the contest is to get people to reduce the amount of electricity they use in 2010 as compared to 2009. Although you have to meet certain requirements to win prizes (owning a house in Monroe county, etc), anyone can sign up to play for fun. If you do qualify, you can sign up to win some cool prizes, including a 1kW solar system as the grand prize.

We’ve already signed up and are looking forward to tracking our electricity more carefully. I’ve started checking our daily usage instead of just our monthly usage and I’m using my Kill-o-Watt to figure out what our big energy hogs are. I don’t expect that we’ll win anything (we’ve already done most of the easy stuff), but I think we could still reduce our usage by 10%. Reducing our electrical usage by 10% could save us more than $60 a year. According to my back-of-the-envelope calculations, it would also reduce our CO2 production by over half a ton!

Even if you can’t compete, I encourage you to sign up and see how much you can reduce your usage. Let me know if you do sign up and especially if you have any good energy-saving tips!

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Trashion and Refashion

Trashion Dress from 2009 UMM Fashion ShowI’m on the board for a local group called the Center for Sustainable Living and a few folks from the center are organizing the first ever Trashion/Refashion Show in Bloomington, to be held on February 20th.  The concept is straightforward – anyone can design and submit and outfit that is either made of stuff that would otherwise be thrown away (trashion) or old clothes remade into something new (refashion).  There are some folks from the IU design department involved but I expect a lot of the entrants to be just regular Janes and Joes with a bit of flair.

I am not sure that I qualify, having both dubious fashion sense and a lack of sewing skills.  I am also realistic enough to know that I have missed the boat for having anything resembling an outfit complete by January 1st (which is the deadline).  However, people are also invited to submit single items that will be sold in a silent auction.  There, I think I might be able to pull something off.  In fact, my father (of all people) came up with the brilliant idea of converting old ties into new suspenders.  There is someone on etsy who is doing it but I think it’s a great concept.  Executives who are about to retire could mail in their favorite (or least favorite) ties and have them converted into a useful keepsake.

One of my co-workers is planning to take some of our old seed packets and convert them into a skirt or vest or hat or something so I could try to help her out.  Ooh, maybe what I need to do is convert some of our old holey socks into dog clothing, since the dog does seem to love old socks and she has been shivering in the cold.

Have any brilliant ideas to share?

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Seeds, seeds, and more seeds

I Love Bees Seed MixIt’s December and it’s snowing and I am feeling totally unprepared for Christmas.  None of these things are particularly unusual for me or I suspect for most people.  The good news is, I did manage to launch the webstore for my new organic seed company, Nature’s Crossroads.  It has been a lot of fun coming up with collections and kits based on the seeds we have in stock.  Probably my favorite is the sunflower fort but we are also selling some really cool heirloom tomato seed-saving kits.

Will and I are plugging away on the house and our respective businesses.  2009 has been a good year but it felt very transitional.  We’re looking forward to a little more stability in 2010.

There are also some cool green living events coming up in 2010 which I’ll post more about next week but just as a sneak preview, we recently signed up for the SIREN Energy Showdown where households try to become more energy efficient and win fabulous prizes.  I’m also debating entering an outfit in the Trashion/Refashion Show which challenges designers to make new clothes out of either discarded items or old clothing items.

It’s events (and organizations) like these that remind me how much I enjoy living in Bloomington.

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