Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sustainable Lifestyle

On Friday evening, 1/25, I attended a gathering of members of the Idaho Earth Institute. The topic was of interest - CAR-FREE LIFESTYLE.

Fortunately, the meeting was only about a mile from my house, and I was able to ride the bike despite harsh winter road conditions. (It would be SO WRONG to drive the car to a meeting about Car-Free Living... wouldn't it?)

They had some of my "bike brothers" - I'd not met them before - who embrace bikes-as-transportation and shared their ideas and enthusiasm with the 15 or 20 people gathered. Their enthusiasm and knowledge put a smile on my face. (They also invited me to briefly share my "story," which I was happy to do. Give me a soapbox to stand on, and I'll preach the word!)

The Idaho Earth Institute (link to website HERE) are folks who are trying to live a "sustainable" lifestyle.

I fully embrace that concept. Of course, each person has to decide what measures he/she is willing and able to take, to leave a smaller footprint.

For example, some Institute folks shun meat; after all, it takes a lot of food and water to bring a newborn calf to the butcher shop. I don't eat a lot of meat, but I would never willingly give it up entirely, as it enriches my life.

Another example is bicycling. It's easier for me to live a "bicycling lifestyle" than for, say, a mom who has kids to deliver to daycare, school, etc., or an electrician who travels to multiple jobsites with lots of equipment, or for somebody who lives in Kuna and works in Boise. (Although the latter situation is a poor choice for sustainability. Let me emphasize choice. There are some things we don't get to choose, but we all can choose where we're going to live.)

Julie, who writes a blog about Boise Mass Transit (link to website HERE), made me aware of the gathering. I was happy to meet her face-to-face; she was in attendance as well.

She was the "voice of reason" among the zealots! She observed (I believe correctly) that most people cannot or will not give up automobile transportation altogether, or disconnect the gas and electricity, or eat only what they grow in their garden, or live in a 128-square-foot house built out of old tires.

However, we all should be aware of our consumption of resources... and we should go beyond "awareness," and actually take active measures to minimize our consumption. Maybe we can ride a bike 8 months of the year... or leave the car home 3 days a week. Maybe we can live closer to work, or work closer to home. Maybe we can take 5-minute showers instead of half-hour. (I wish my kids would take THAT advice! Does anybody know of a household shower-timer, that cuts off the hot water after, say, 7 minutes? I want that!)

If you're interested in sustainable lifetyle, or "voluntary simplicity" (what a fantastic notion!), or want some practical ideas on how you can live more sustainably (and cheaply!), get in touch with these Idaho Earth Institute folks.


Julie Fanselow said...

Great write-up, bikeboy, and it was good to meet you in person!

db said...

I know the comment might've been made in jest, but there are a number of shower timers on the market. Here's a link to one:


Thanks for the info about Idaho Earth Institute. I had no idea that they were around.

Bikeboy said...

That shower timer looks FAN-FLIPPIN'-TASTIC!!! I'll be looking into that!

(One kid described it as the "Shower Nazi," so it should appeal to a guy like me, I s'pose. I liked the notion of rewarding the "victims" in some way at the end of the month, so they'd see a bit of the tangible results of our money-saving / resource-conservation effort.)

Jon said...

I bought my house to be central to almost all of my everyday needs (work, groceries, coffee shop, Post Office, bank, etc.), and that allows me to lead a rather "car-light" existence. I felt lucky yo be able to find an affordable house in that location.

But, not everyone has that choice to make. Cost of housing may be too much to live close to work, existing mortgages and a slump in the housing market might disallow moving to be closer to a new workplace, etc. So, don't judge commuters too harshly.

Instead, promote alternate transpo (carpools, bus, bike, etc.) and help those people to realize that a 40 mile commute doesn't mandate driving their personal automobile, by themselves.

My two cents.


Bikeboy said...

jon, I appreciate your weighing-in on living-location choices. And to some degree, I agree with you. There are circumstances which make it difficult to relocate, especially in our volatile real estate market.

But - I believe people tend to deceive themselves about cost-of-living. For example, a friend's brother relocated from Grand Junction to the Boise area, and rented a place in Nampa (20 miles or so distant). His rationale? He could rent for $40/month less there, than in Boise. Never mind that he was buying $100/month or more in extra gas to commute, AND spending an hour-and-a-half or so extra beind the wheel, 5 days a week!

Also... (and this is true of the Boise area; I can't speak for sure about the Denver area)... before the proliferation of single-occupant vehicles, people didn't have a realistic choice of living 25 miles from their workplace, entertainment, shopping, etc. Nowadays they enter into such a situation fully expecting to drive everywhere. NOT a good choice, from a "sustainability" standpoint. That "choice" would be removed from my list of options; I just wouldn't even consider it.