Have you heard of this? Sharon Astyk, who I have mentioned few times before, posted last month about the Riot for Austerity. Back in 2007 a bunch of people made it their goal to live on 10 % of what the average American consumed. TEN percent. Ninety percent less than what everyone else was doing. It was a movement that grew to several thousand people and crossed 14 countries. It was a huge goal. Sharon is doing it again, and I’ve decided to join her.
Apparently my crazy knows no bounds. The Riot focuses on consuming 90% less than the average for seven categories: transportation energy, electricity, other fuels (like natural gas or wood), water, garbage, food and consumer goods. This is huge. Read the goal details in her post linked above.
At first, I was really excited about the Riot. Heck yeah! I can do that! I unplugged my fridge, for goodness sake. I’m an extremest rock star! And Rick has always laughed at my crazy but come along, I’m sure I can get him to go for it! We can bike everywhere. We can totally do this! I will start September 1st!
And here it is, the beginning of September. And I’m totally freaked about it. Rick is so not on board. Ten percent is such a crazy low goal. We are slated to drive 240 miles one-way to pick peaches in the next couple of weeks and Rick has two hunting trips planned. That sinks our transportation energy in the first two months. What the hell was I thinking – I can’t do this. Why must I put my family through these crazy experiments. Henry is going to grow up and be able to one-up all his friends by saying, “Yeah, well, my mom wouldn’t let us have a fridge.”
Thankfully, Sharon was smart enough to create a facebook group, which has been great for ideas and support already. No, Rick is not yet on board. Yes, if I count the miles for the peaches and hunting, our transportation gets blown, right off the bat. But a lot of people are starting this off without their whole family being on board. And as the group pointed out, no one else is counting their food costs in their transportation budget. The tough thing about the riot, besides the obvious of course, is that it makes transparent the otherwise hidden costs of the way we consume. So we spend 25 gallons of gas to get a year’s supply of peaches or meat. That cost is in front of us. The cost of fuel to get peaches shipped from another state (or country) is hidden. But it’s still a real cost. The cost of commercially produced meat in fossil fuels is not very clear to most consumers at the grocery store. But there is a cost and it’s high.
When I posted my peach/hunting debacle and sudden discouragement to the group, Sharon’s response was “Maybe one of the questions to ask is, “even if we’re not going to change this this year, what would we do if the cost of gas did exceed the other costs? What would we do if we felt we couldn’t? Are there are other ways to do this?'” Those are very real and hard questions. Lots of people asked if there were closer orchards or ways to split the cost by getting peaches of others while we were there, which we’ve done in the past.
Perhaps my favorite response was a quote though, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” -Voltaire
It is so easy to get discouraged before you even get anything off the ground. I thought I was ready to start cruising the house for things to unplug and start taking sponge baths, September first. But I realized that with three kiddos under five years old and a husband not yet on board, maybe I should use September to evaluate where we are at. How much are we using in all of these categories? Where is our real, low hanging fruit – things we can do now, painlessly that will cut our energy consumption (using a clothesline, for example)? Also, Maybe I should cut myself (and my man) a bit of a break. I’m not the only one still waking up a couple times a night with the baby.
Then Apron Stringz jumped in. She beat me to the punch with a Riot post (see I’m still not even back on the blogging ball yet). And she announced her Quiet Riot idea, which I love. I think it’s a wonderful idea. I’m not necessarily going to Quiet Riot, though I’m reserving the right to go back on that too. I really want to see if I can hit that 10% benchmark. But to get there, I’m going to take my time. For my family’s sake, I am going to cut myself some slack. September will be the evaluation month. I know I can’t do this all at once (none of us can).
More on this to come… my mind is reeling a bit, both with ideas and little inner battles. Stick with me, and don’t judge me, please. I know how crazy I am.