This Post Is Green

Today was our first day of green bin pickup — we are the last neighbourhood in Ottawa to take their turn. I drove around a bit this morning and it looks like we’re getting a 40-50% participation rate. At first I was disappointed, but the more I think about it, the more I think, not that bad. It’s the first week, and maybe people are just getting used to the idea, wanting to check out what their neighbours are doing first. Considering the trepidation I felt when we got our own green bin, I can understand people taking a little time to warm up to the idea. I hope by next green bin pickup day, I see a lot more houses taking part.

Our own green bin process is going fine so far. We have these super giant green bins here, like those big recycling bins with lids that you see in apartment buildings, and ours was pretty much full to the top. So I’m happy about that.

However, we still put out just as much garbage as we usually do, or at least it seemed so, and I can’t figure out what that means. Did we produce a lot of extra garbage this week? Was it just not packed as densely without the food waste to weigh it down? I’m not sure. I thought my goal for this year — to get our family down to one bag of garbage a week — would be snap, given the green bins and the impending toilet training of Gal Smiley. However, it seems like so far composting isn’t making a huge difference to our output. I’ll have to give it a few months to see if I can figure out what’s up.

In other environmental news, we’ve been experimenting with lowering the thermostat this year. I used to read a blog called Crunchy Chicken but I had to give it up. Her ideas on reducing her footprint on this Earth are awesome and amazing, but I am just not ready for things like grey water recycling and it was freaking me out and making me feel guilty all the time. Anyway, every winter on her blog she has “Freeze Yer Buns Off” challenge, in which she turns her thermostat down to something ridiculous like 16 degrees, and dares her readers to do the same. I KNOW.

Still, it was inspiring, so this year we went down to 20 degrees during the day, and 19 at night (I’m not willing to go colder at night right now as Gal Smiley still sleeps with no blankets and no socks, and LORDY, those are some cold toes that come crying at 4 a.m. when the heat is not on. We’re working on that for this year.)

I have to say, 20 degrees feels a LOT colder than 21. I know it’s only one degree, but for some reason, my body says, 21 happy, 20 NOT HAPPY. And then I read on the gas company’s site that lowering your thermostat by 1 degree means you’ll save 2% on your heating bill, which for us is like, $30 over the course of the whole winter. So for the sake of $30, I was freezing my ass off in my own home all the time? Why?

But MyFriendJen thought that it was worth it and talked me into trying it for a few months, so I dug out some really ugly fleece sweaters and my slippers and sucked it up.

The kids, by the way, are totally fine, they are all running around in shorts right now. FREAKS.

I do have a point here! I really do!

So my point is that…we saved a bundle. Our bill for December, which arrived in the second week of January, is about half of our bill from last year. HALF. That is like, $150 in savings.


And, I’m saving the planet, too! Bonus.

14 thoughts on “This Post Is Green

  1. Oh, the thermostat…I should lower it, yes. I know I should. We keep ours at 22, and even so my hands feel like icicles half the time. I have terrible circulation. (Gawd–don’t I sound like I’m 80 years old?)

    My brother and his wife keep their house at around 18 or so and whenever I go there I’m tempted to wear mittens and a coat inside the house because me hand hurt from the cold.

    Maybe I’ll give lowering the temp another try…just down to 21. Surely I can handle that.

  2. Me hand hurt? What the heck am I typing and why do I see these things AFTER I press Send? I mean, “my hands hurt from the cold.”

    Time for me supper…bye!

  3. CapnPlanet

    Interesting that your green bin is full – from what? We have green waste collection down here, but in the winter it’s always empty except for one kitchen pailful of food waste (which is probably about, maybe 8 liters?)

    We found that the real reduction in normal garbage went to recycling – now we fill our recycling bin, and our garbage per week is very small. Larger now while we still have a child in diapers, but otherwise pretty minimal.

    For the thermostat, we’ve always kept it at 20 during the day, and down to maybe 16-17 at night. Again, a little warmer at night now that we have kids (though I suspect they wouldn’t care if it went cooler, it’s just SmokingToaster who projects her own feeling of being cold on the kids 😉 ). 20 degrees and wearing a light sweater feels about right to me.

    Then again, this winter I’m experimenting with wearing shorts all season long (in case you think that’s a lark, I’d counter by saying that’s a bold decision in Northern California), and so far that’s been feasible. So my experience with thermostat settings may be completely irrelevant to you.

  4. MrsCarlSagan

    Last year we kept out thermostat at about 69 degrees F which is 20.5 degrees C. Every time we received a gas bill, I freaked out and lowered it a degree. We acclimatized to 65 degrees F (18C) and that’s where we keep the thermostat now. We bundle up – thick socks, double sweaters and at night I often wear fingerless gloves if I’m reading or on the computer. All the bundling up is worth it though – our heating costs have been reduced dramatically. And, because we’ve been doing this for awhile, we are actually pretty comfortable with the house so cool. We do raise the thermostat when we have guests over. 🙂

  5. I haven’t used my green bin yet for several reasons, one of which is htat it is frozen shut and I’m too lazy to work on opening it. (Actually, after today’s warm weather, it may no longer be frozen.)

    I do compost already, so I would mostly use the green bin for things like kleenex, and I haven’t figured out how to make that work without covering the neighbourhood with kleenex every 2 weeks.

    1. CapnPlanet

      Interesting — we’ve been told that kleenex should not go in the green bin (but paper towels are OK – go figure).

  6. i heart my green bin. i was so excited to get it i actually hugged it. little tip: i am not using the bags. i am using the newspaper origami liners. so much cheaper (especially is you use the local free papers) and they fit so much better than the bought liners. but i digress…

    we keep the house at 21 during the day and down to 14 at night. i love to sleep in the cold. the jellybean is such a little sweaty kid, he doesn’t seem to notice. i really should try to go down another degree. the husband would kick up a fuss for sure. he’s always so cold. i really like having a programmable thermostat too. especially for weekends when we are away.

  7. Last January was COLD though. Andrew was born Jan 3rd, so I remember how utterly brutal it was that month. This month has been MILD in comparison. We normally put plastic on the inside of all our windows, but didn’t get it up this fall. I was worried about how it would impact our heating bills. I’m sure it has, but they’ve still been lower than last year.

    As for the thermostat, we have it set at 15C during the night, it comes on at 19C for a few hours in the morning while Peter is home, then down to 16C for the rest of the day, then 20C for the hours he’s home at night.

    Can you figure out who does the complaining about the temperature around here??

    I figure that by keeping it low during the day, I can justify the higher temperature in the evenings. And my “higher” is only 20C!

    Shouldn’t all your pie baking help keep the house warm??

  8. Don’t assume that people aren’t using the green bin just because it’s not out — my parents use theirs a ton, but they don’t have to put it out every time because there’s just the two of them.

    We keep the thermostat at 19 during the day and 16 at night, but Eve wears feet pajamas and the kids have fleece sheets. I’m always too hot, so it seems unfair to get credit for lowering my thermostat – my sacrifice is not using the air conditioner or keeping it low in the summer.

    I love the green bin too, and we do the origami newspaper thing. My obsessive hand-washing makes it a little problematic, but I’m dealing with it :).

  9. The only things that should be in your garbage right now are non-recyclable plastics and diapers/sanitary products. Every thing else including tissues, napkins should be going in your green bin or in your recycling.

    We’ve found that we’ve managed to get our garbage down to about half what it was. (We are still composting our veggies in our backyard because it’s good for the flowers.)

    We’ve always kept the house between 19 and 20. If it gets warm outside, we’ll turn them down even more. We use our ceiling fans to move the air around… seems to work. No doubt you’d freeze here too though.

  10. Betsy Mae

    wow, that’s pretty amazing. i would be willing to turn ours down a touch to save $150. i wish that there was better way to break down how much it costs to run our dryer each time or our washer on hot or cold wash type thing. i’d like to know how much it costs to run our dishwasher each time you know?

  11. We’re a 19 when we’re home and awake and 16 at night and when we’re out family. Reid sleeps in footie pajamas – Old Navy has good ones up to size 5 and then Lands End. We have a duvet and quilt plus flannel blankets on our bed. I raise the temperature for guests and have spare slipper available. I grew up in a house without central heating. If the bedside glass of water doesn’t have a layer of ice on it in the morning, I think the house is warm enough ;+)

    I heart my green bin, too. We were at the point of needing a second composter in the backyard and it’s hard to get to in the snow. We didn’t line the bin the first week and had a bit that froze to the bottom. Will see how it goes with newspaper in the bottom and boxes/bags of compost rather than just loose material. It’s definitely worth figuring out.

    And, to my surprise, the “H” on the Canadiens jersey stands for “Hockey” – I almost “helped” a girlfriend’s DD with her homework by supplying “Habitant”.

  12. 16 degrees in January?? Sorry, but no way! I am passionate about saving the environment, but that is way too cold for me!
    I have bad circulation or something and am FREEZING in 20 degrees, but try to keep it around that temperature for the environment and my bills, but I will not go lower than 20. I would have to wear mitts and thick socks in the house! LOL

  13. I am like you, a cold person!! My husband and I are always cold. We figure we help the environment by not using AC in the summer, so it won’t kill the world if we raise our heat a bit in the winter 😉 I do 19 during the day, but often sneak it up a bit on really cold days when I get a chill. Our house just seems really cold!! We do 18 at night – just can’t go lower than that I find. We all have duvets but I wake up freezing and shaking (wimp).

    Our garbage is one bag a week. I took my City of Ottawa list and I put ALL that stuff in the green bin. Kleenexes, pizza boxes, parchment ppr I’ve cooked on, food scraps, vacuum canister remnants and 14, 000 yards of urine-soaked paper towels (potty training fun). I also drove around to see who in my neighbourhood had their box out, and I would guess it was lower than 40 per cent 😦 I’ve chatted with some neighbours and got them on board, so we’ll see how it goes this Friday (our first pick up was two weeks ago)!

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