Lifestyle Project

The Lifestyle Project is an opportunity  to learn about energy and environmental alternatives by modifying your lifestyle.  Over a period of three weeks  you will choose some aspects of your lifestyle Ė such as driving your car, your consumption of energy, your use of water or your production of waste - and make changes that should significantly reduce your impact on the environment.  You will keep a journal of what you have done, and how it has affected you.  

Categories (you can choose 3 categories from the following list)

  • Waste
  • Electricity
  • Heating 
  • Water
  • Car usage
  • Diet
 

Waste

On project days you must not use or buy anything that will end up in the landfill (or on the roadside!).   This includes beverage cups, most food packaging, much other packaging, paper towels and other disposable cleaning products, but it does not include toilet paper, feminine hygiene products and condoms.  You are allowed to use things that are recyclable, but you must actually recycle them.  Even so, you should try to minimize the amount of your recyclable waste by consuming less, and reusing things as much as possible.  For example, you can reuse plastic bags, write on both sides of paper and donít print or photocopy documents that you donít need.  Almost all food waste should be composted.

It is NOT acceptable to just save your refuse, and then throw it out on non-project days.

 

Electricity

On project days you should reduce your electricity consumption to less than 50% of your normal rate.  Turn off all lights and electrical appliances that arenít needed.  Do as much as you can by hand, avoiding the use of appliances such as electric can openers, pencil sharpeners, hair dryers, razors and food processors.  Use only full loads in the dishwasher, or do the dishes by hand.  Take shorter showers.  Wear clothes longer between washes, and use only full loads in the washer and dryer.  Hang clothes to dry whenever possible.

You might also consider replacing some of your commonly used light bulbs with low-energy bulbs. 

Before starting the project you should read your electricity meter for several days to see how much electricity you use on an average day.  Then you can read it again during the project period to see if you've been able to meet the 50% target.

 

Heating

Home heating is one of our most significant uses of energy, and we can save a bundle simply by turning the thermostat down.  During the first week keep your main thermostat 2į C cooler than normal.  For the second week turn it down another 2į, and for the final week turn it down a further 1į.  Unlike the other categories, this heat reduction applies to every day of the week.

Meanwhile, use your heating budget more efficiently.  Donít heat rooms that arenít being used, and turn the heat down through the night and if the house is empty during the day.  While its beyond the scope of this project to think about home renovations, try to avoid wasting heat by closing doors and windows in rooms that are being heated, and by closing curtains and blinds at night.

 

Water

On project days you should reduce your water consumption to less than 50% of your normal rate.   Reduce your shower length to no more than 5 minutes.  Only flush the toilet when necessary.  Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, shaving or washing the dishes.  Use only full loads in the dishwasher, wear clothes longer between washes, and use only full loads in the washing machine.

For more permanent water saving, consider installing a low-flow shower head, and put a brick or dam in your toilet tank.

 

Transportation

Do not drive your car on project days.  If possible, get around by walking, biking or using the bus.  If one of these alternatives canít work for you, ride with someone else. 

Itís not good enough to leave all of your errands to non-project days, and then do them by car.  Walk to the store, ride your bike to a friendís house or take the bus to the mall.

 

Diet

Our meat-intensive diets are incredibly wasteful of land and water.  For example, producing 1 kg of beef requires 16 kg of grain, and consumes over 20,000 litres of water.

On project days restrict yourself to fresh vegetables and fruits.  You can get all of the nutrition that you need by including some complex carbohydrates (whole grains, potatoes etc.), plus beans and nuts.  Wild sea-foods are fine.  Dairy products and eggs are OK, but they are still very inefficient in terms of resources consumed. 

Wasted food represents wasted resources and money, so try to avoid preparing or serving too much, and make sure that leftovers get used.  Buy local products whenever possible, and of course, avoid products with excess packaging.

 

 

Your journal

The most valuable part of this project is the journal in which you record your experiences.   In your journal you should first state what your goals are in each of the three categories that you chose, and then, for each of the project days, record what you have done to meet those goals.  For example, what temperature you kept your house at, how long you stood in the shower, what you ate, how you managed to get around without your car or how successful you were in reducing waste.  You should also write a few words about what you are feeling about the project and your participation in it, and how it has affected your lifestyle, and how it has affected people around you.