By the numbers

Posted on July 30, 2010 by Anne Basye

Since we humans are so fond of expressing our goals and measuring our progress with numbers, today I offer a handful of measuring sticks for sustainability.

How are you doing on the 100-thing challenge—the quest to pare down your worldly goods to 100 items?

How’s your 100-mile diet going? If you have a big backyard and live in a warm climate, you might be able to enjoy a 100-foot diet.

Does your McMansion gobble up time, energy, and natural resources? How about living in 100 square feet? For a perspective on tiny living spaces OUTSIDE the United States, check out this slide show of residents living in 100-square foot rooms in Hong Kong’s oldest public housing estate. [This blog on small living spaces is interesting, too.]

Your 100 things, 100-foot garden, and 100-foot house can find a happy home in a 20-minute neighborhood, a concept that is big in Portland, Oregon. (Though I must point out that in Chicago, I lived in a 5-minute neighborhood!) Kurt Hoelting on Whidbey Island determined that 62 miles was his circumference of home, and then spent a year exploring his home by foot, bike, canoe, bus  – staying out of cars for a year in a mostly rural area that is NOT well-served by public transportation. Trying to make our lives more local is important because our current rate of air travel is not sustainable. Watch this video to learn about love miles–a concept that can’t be quantified!

Now, how about getting your energy use down to 1000 watts per year? Begin by signing up for Wattzon and measuring exactly how many watts you use a year. Most of us use way, way, way more, and that’s a problem. For example, says Wattzon, a 12,000-watt lifestyle is 120 x 120 light bulbs burning permanently, around the clock. Alternative, clean energy sources cannot be ramped up in time to continue this kind of energy use. We have to pare down. Wattzon can help you do that. See a slide show on energy reduction here.

Add up all these numbers, and you get a sustainable, enjoyable, not-so-big life. Are you ready?

Anne Basye, Sustaining Simplicity

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