Just like the hypermilers attempting to extract various driving efficiencies to maximize fuel economy during their regular commute, our daily lives and regular chores present ample opportunities to reduce our individual carbon footprints. However, creating awareness about these opportunities is a necessary step. Unaware people might be doing things habitually not realizing the easily avoidable harm they are causing to the environment.
The single garment washes, such as color-stained clothes and aprons after my art workshop, are a good example. The waste of both electricity and water inherent in the single garment wash – especially compared to the urgency of that particular wash and to the impracticability of running the mud-soaked or color-stained garment with other clothes – is nearly invisible and goes unnoticed.
A mini washing machine advertised for apartments, like the one above, appears to be a good solution for such small loads. And if one doesn’t mind the inconvenience of it, there are few hand-operated ones that campers use. Do not get carried away by the latest Energy Star ratings on the washers, these are normalized by the capacity of the fully loaded washer. Single garment washes don’t warrant running a typical Energy Star washer (20 gallons per wash cycle) when these mini washers use merely 3 gallons each cycle.
Leaky Faucet = 2000 Gallons a Year
There are several other opportunities, such as turning off faucets while brushing teeth and shaving (savings of 20 gallons each time). The USGS calculator reveals that just one leaking faucet dripping 1 drop per second can waste 2000 gallons each year.
Similarly, actions like turning off lights when leaving a room for long periods, using right sized pot depending on the quantity of food and burner size can all result in improving the energy efficiencies in our daily chores. Most of us are already hypermiling by actions like recycling, driving the smaller cars, and walking short distances instead of driving.
Legislating and implementing policies such a fuel efficiency standards and Energy Star ratings are the direct way to bring about certain change, particularly in the manufacturing sector. However, hypermiling practiced while driving or in our daily chores can help extract the extra mile beyond the standards from the precious water and energy resources spent.
And just like hypermiling, it is not sufficient to be aware of these simple changes, but to convert them into habit. When it becomes a habit, a change for the better will become binding, and can also influence the behavior of future generations.Photo courtesy of Thomas Kemp via Flickr.com under Creative Commons License