Saturday, July 15, 2006

Back to Posting With New, More Sustainable Digs

So I've just finished moving to new, bigger, and more sustainable, digs in El Cerrito, CA. Just a couple of minutes up the road.

Although I really enjoyed living up in the east bay hills with all the trees and beautiful views, it was a more car-dependent location than I'd like (both for pollution's sake and for my wallet's sake). So we chose to move down into the flats, a 2-minute bike ride from the nearest BART Station, a 2-minute walk from the nearest bus line, and walking or biking distance from most needed amenities. It is our hope that this cuts our gas costs and emissions considerably.

We are particularly excited that this property has plenty of space for a veg oil tank, and even though the Toyota hybrid diesel that I want is not yet available (hint hint, Toyota), we are planning on getting a high-mileage diesel and going biodiesel ASAP (mixing about 50% veg oil and 50% biodiesel as long as it is warm enough). You don't need much more than a kindergarden reading level to see the writing on the wall that gas prices are headed over $4/gallon sooner than later. Possibly much sooner the way this Middle East situation is unraveling. The more we can do to buffer our wallets against that ASAP, the less painful this will be (and of course, it will also reduce our greenhouse gas emissions considerably!).

We've made good progress in greening the new space, replacing all bulbs with compact fluorescents, installing water conservation devices on sinks and toilets, buying some nice used (as opposed to new) furniture where we needed fixtures (re-using perfectly good items), bringing in all recycled paper products and biodegradable plastic garbage bags, putting up a clothes line rather than use an energy-hungry dryer, keeping many appliances and electronics (entertainment electronics) unplugged when not in use to conserve energy, keeping the place and our clothing (and ourselves) clean with eco-friendly cleaners and detergents, using solar to power our battery rechargers and backyard fountain, and filling the fridge with lots of locally and organically grown foods. Fortunately, the house comes with double-paned windows and central air (which we'll rarely need in the Bay Area's temperate climate), and the landlord has offered to cover the cost of a compost, which we'll use on our organic garden (which we have quickly created from a very pesky patch of weeds). He wants us to maintain a too-thirsty lawn, so we've reseeded it with the most drought tolerant, low water use grass seed we could find (and plan to gradually sneak native grass and wildflower seed mix into the grassy areas, as well as native california wildflowers into all the flower beds).

Off for an afternoon hike. Enjoy your weekends!