Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The year in review ..

I love the news programs on TV that review the year and remind us of all the events that took place in the last 12 months. So, what better time than the last day of the year to update you on some of the green living changes we made and how they worked out. Here are a few of the things that had the biggest impact on our house.

Composting and Recycling

This year we began composting ... something that we thought would be difficult in an Apartment. It has worked surprisingly well. We turned planters, not in use, into compost bins and started tossing raw fruit and vegetable matter into them. We now have three bins "working". There is no smell, no bugs and no "icky" factor. The food scraps are decaying rapidly and hopefully we'll have fertile soil in the spring.

Recycling was another activity that we thought would be difficult in a small space. But ... where there is a will, there is a way. We converted trash cans in our office to "paper only" cans. We also put some boxes in our laundry room, which is right off the kitchen, and now toss all recyclables into them. Every week or so ... we make a run to the local recycling area.

The result of these two actions is that the garbage bin has become our smallest can. And, before tossing anything into any bin, we consider whether or not it can be re-purposed.

Energy Consumption

This year we kicked up our energy saving practices. Out of 12 light bulbs in two bathrooms, we twisted off 8 (no one needs that much light). All electrical devices, with the exception of the VCR, the refrigerator and the stove, were put on power bars and when not in use, the power was completely off ... no phantom power gluttons. Things like cell phone chargers or battery chargers were unplugged until needed and then, they were only plugged in long enough to charge up the device. In the summer, rather than use air conditioning, ceiling fans were employed and we ... well ... opened the windows. Adjusting the curtains throughout the day also helped keep temperatures comfortable. In the winter, we dressed warmer and used blankets while watching TV. If the temperatures dipped too low, we turned on the heat ... but only long enough to warm things up and take the chill out of the air.

By far our biggest energy change was the use of the hot water heater. Rather than leave it on, all the time, we opted for turning it on for 30 minutes a day. Our water heater doesn't have an on/off switch but ... the circuit box is easy to get to so ... we just flipped it on and off as required.

These efforts were rewarded by lowering our electric bill considerably ... from $90.00 at it's highest to $34.00 last month. More importantly, there was an energy savings ... from a high 1054 kWh to the current 320 kWh.

Starting this blog

One of the most important green living changes in my life has been writing this blog. Through it, I have learned so many things. In addition, I've met wonderful people ... people who care about each other ... and the planet. In the beginning, my goal was to create a place where we could share ideas and perhaps, between us, compile a large enough list that everyone could do something. Thanks to all of you, that goal has been met.

Now it's your turn

What green efforts have you made this year? What are the efforts that you are most proud of ... and why? Of the green efforts you began this year, which has had the most impact? And has there been anything that was a bust?

I look forward to 2009 and sharing even more green ideas.

To all of you ...



  1. Hello Small Footprints,

    A few years ago I was very into the GREEN thing. I studied with a local group and became something known as a Master Composter/Recycler. As a result, I can tell you a lot about composting...

    Then, for some reason(s) I fell out of it. I stopped doing all the things I knew I should be doing to better the environment. I became very self-centered and very narrow minded. I have no idea why this happened; maybe stress...maybe I got discouraged...I don't know.

    Then, I regained consciousness. Your blog, and others like it, have reawakened in me an ancient passion for the environment. In '09 my son and I are going to be putting in an organic vegetable garden along with a worm-bin and compost system. I am very excited!

    Thanks for helping me through the doldrums. Your work here is very important and greatly appreciated.

    Happy New Year!


  2. Hi, Reduce Footprints!

    I am not really as green conscious as you are but just thinking that whatever I throw away in the garbage will come back to me with a vengeance, has made me think twice before I ever use these things.

    Thank you for always reminding me to always think of Mother Earth and living a healthy life.

    Happy New Greener Year!

    Searching Soul

  3. Hello, and a Very Happy New Year to you also! Composting is great.... I love it when the time comes to empty the compost bin and we're rewarded with all that lovely earthy dark brown material to spread round the garden. Like you, we've began recycling more seriously and our rubbish bin is now only half full by the time it's emptied. What I'm most pleased about this year is that we've started growing our own veggies and, being vegetarian, that can only be a good thing. :) We're already benefitting and I look forward to even better results in the coming year.
    All the best for 2009!

  4. I have made great changes this years and I think the one that I am most proud of is actually starting to change the way my husband thinks.

    More on eco friendly friday.

  5. Those electricity savings are awesome!
    Hope you get a chance to vist Robot Nine today and play the Picture puzzle, nobody has won yet.
    Robot Nine

  6. The lite bulb tip is great! I have about 12 bulbs in my bathroom too...very unnecessary I agree. This year I am going to try my hand at square foot gardening and I'm also planning on planting numerous fruit trees as well. It's my hope that within a few years all of my fruit and a few veggies will come from my own backyard!

  7. Hi Small Footprints. Thanks for all that you did throughout the year. Your tips are amazing and you have done an awesome job at providing simple tips we all can follow.

    I have much work to do in 2009, but I've improved by reusing the same water bottle for the last 3 months as opposed to the packs of 24 I used to get and drink one after another. We also cook less food, preventing more waste and many other smaller things.

    Have a happy new year!

  8. Let me see...we made a few changes this year:

    1. using cloth bags for the grocery store as much as possible (some stores welcome this while others seem to be bothered by it)
    2. recycling as much as we could. Our apartment complex is awesome when it comes to recycling. They have bins for everything
    3. Changed all the lightbulbs to the energy-saving ones (well-- our apartment complex did this, we didn't)
    4. Stopped driving so much. This is easy to do in the city, however.

    We are looking forward to 2009, where I'm instituting even more changes like composting and growing more veggies and herbs.

    Keep up the blog. I really like your ideas.
    Happy New Year!

  9. I also started composting this year.

    We also turned the thermostat down and started recycling more.

    I hope to do more this year.

    Happy New Year to you also !

  10. Happy New Year, Small Footprints! I have been really an eye-opener to the green ideas you have suggested since I first came across your nice blog in 2008. Thank you for sharing. You wrote ”Where there is a will, there is a way”, and that can be a great encouragement for many followers of your blog who are making their hard way to achieve something, not only reducing-footprints-matters. Now the year has just changed, and I am thinking I'll keep following your blog same as 2008.

  11. I can't claim to have done much in the way of 'green' this year... what CAN you do in a city that really demands that the aircon be on all the time?
    The only thing I am proud of are my sprouts :).

  12. Wow on your savings with electricity! Our bills are being raised 25% starting in January and I have concerns on how to further lower it--thank you!
    Happy New Year to you.
    I should be back blogging by Monday once again!

  13. Hi Small Footprints!
    First, thanks for the visit to My Song via Andy&Mel Lowe's Black Bus;
    Aren't they just the sweetest!
    Having recently moved(again!), this time to the big city, I still find ways to green it up. There is already a small but dedicated garden in the back yard; I've begun composting to a)cut down on trash and b) help fortify the soil. I've always been conservative energy-wise, primarily for financial reasons (before the 'green' revolution; glad it's arrived though!). The power bars are a HUGE asset--glad to see you saved so many kiloWatts!

    Keep up the informative blog!

    More soon


  14. I'm very impressed of your achievements Small Footprints! And since I had not told you this before, welcome to the blogosphere! You're doing fantastically great, and you had inspired and touched many lives. Most importantly, you will be remembered by many as someone who contributed significantly to a greener and less 'footprinted' Earth :)

    Keep up the great work, and looking forward to more 'collaborations' with you in 2009! Happy New Year and have a great week ahead!

  15. SF, congratulations on all your efforts throughout the past year. I have only been following for a few months, but your site has always been one to teach and lead. I enjoy coming here.