Was, umm...not very dramatic. Our baselines are pretty low, so right now we're picking a little at a time at reductions. I wish I could write about how we did something really simple that cut our usage dramatically, but nothing so far ;-). I think the big step will be the fridge turn off. Which I meant to have done already, but haven't quite, simply because we're still using up all the bits of condiments in the fridge. I can't quite bring myself to throw away good food, even though this is stupid ;-). But I think we'll do the big turn off at the end of this week, finally.
Our electrical assessment will have to wait until the monthy bill comes in - I expect a fairly dramatic drop, because March was artificially high. We were brooding out turkey poults, and we had frost periodically until May 22. We've been more diligent about turning off the computer, and I'm trying hard to have 3 days a week (only succeeded once so far) in which I don't connect at all. We're also trying to wean our son to a smaller nightlight with an LED. We've been using our solar cooker and other cooking energy savers as well, so hopefully this will work out as a large net savings.
One thing we're considering later in the project is simply going entirely without grid power - not with solar, but simply converting our life over to electrical free for good. We're debating.
Gas - our approximate monthly allotment is 20 gallons per month for the household. We used 34, including the trip back and forth to NYC my husband took with the boys. Which is significantly over, but getting better. My oldest son's whole annual allotment (and perhaps more) will be used by his busing to the school for kids with autism he attends. I'm hoping we'll come in under his allotment - it will depend on the size of the bus they assign, and the number of other special needs kids going his way. We don't really have any control over this, and I doubt our family will have enough extra gas to cover his full allotment if, for example, the school district does something insane and puts Eli with only 1 other kid on a 12 passenger school bus. So this may be our failure point. Over the summer, the big reasons for driving are synagogue and swimming. But we want to save up gas for the fall, when DH has to commute to work.
I'd love to get rid of the van we have, which is comparatively low mileage, but fits all 6 of us. I hate having two cars. Heck, I hate having one car. They are never on the road at the same time - ever - we inherited the little car from Eric's grandmother and we use it for commuting and anything we don't all do together - the van is driven only 1x per week or so, or occasionally on long car trips. So I'm looking for a higher-mileage 30+ vehicle that could fit six passengers, 3 in car or booster seats. Oh, and it can't cost too much, but has to be reasonably reliable. If anyone has any wisdom, I'll gladly accept it. We'd dump both of the other cars in favor of that such a magic vehicle.
I got the information about the trike with kid seat Colin Beavan is using over at Noimpactman, and I'm looking into that - Eli doesn't have the developmental skills to ride a bike safely in traffic, and no one else is big enough or a good enough rider to be able to cover the multiple hilly miles between us and anything else. We've looked into rickshaws, but too pricey as yet. We have yet to figure out how to transport four kids with pedal power. Which is too bad - we'd love to. Horse and buggy would be the other option, but I don't know that I have the horse skills or the time to really acquire serious driving ability - enough to feel really safe with my kids in the buggy. I used to ride, but I've never driven. Any good advice on this front?
Heating - not been a problem here ;-). We don't usually turn the heat on until late October. And unfortunately, one of the two beautiful birches that shades our house is moribund, and has to come down. The upside is that the wood will be nice. But we want to replace it with a similar, but less disease prone tree - anyone know something that provides light, dappled shade, isn't too prone to disease and is pretty to look at? I was thinking locust, perhaps, or maybe Chinese Chestnut.
Food - we were already very nearly at the 90% reduction, and as the garden and local produce gets better, we're pretty comfortably there. I wish I could come up with a good substitute for cheerios, but that's about it. Oh, and a cheaper organic juice source for popsicle making. We're really enjoying the very beginnings of the real "summer" things - the first green beans and zucchini. No tomatoes yet, but forthcoming.
Garbage - the debacle in which my shop shelving collapsed and crushed a whole bunch of glass jars of pickles into sacks of grains and beans pretty much killed my garbage quota this month. We were way over - I didn't even other calculating how much. We have been working to minimize our garbage, but that kind of killed it.
Consumer goods - I was doing so well until I bumped up against Simon's homeschool materials at the end of this month. Most of it is a good investment - amortized over the 2 kids following him, we'll get 3 years of usage out of every curriculum year. And we were able to mix and match, which was good - at 5 1/2 he's ready for most of the 2nd grade materials, but not quite all. And I simply couldn't find everything we needed used. So I spent more than my @80 per month allotment on that - we bought a total of 140 dollars in used goods (most of that was DH's banjo), which at a 10% allotment was 14 dollars, but then spent $105 dollars on Simon's second grade school materials, new. I'll probably spend another bit this month on Jewish materials, which simply aren't readily available used.
Water: We're averaging 10-11 gallons per person, just above optimal. I think I can get that down pretty well once we move the other toilet to composting, which will happen as soon our friend who is building new ones for us gets it finished. The cistern *should finally* go in in July, and we'll have more flexibility then, particularly because of our abundant rainfall.
The big learning curve on this has been not that it is so terrifically hard, but how many little places there were for us left to make cuts.
The other cultural thing that has been interesting is the level of negotiation. I describe this project a lot, and the immediate reaction tends to be an attempt at negotiation - "Well, but I couldn't do that because I have to..." I think a lot of people just don't realize that science doesn't negotiate - that is, they don't seem to grasp that while you can dispute the grounds for doing this, if you conceed that we have to do what it takes, you can't bargain on the what it takes. It is a painful realization to recognize that every day we wait to make these changes raises the bar - it makes it less and less possible. I've had two people say to me "well, once it gets to 100%, we won't have to do it anyway." They were joking, but that scares me - the idea that if we just make the disaster irrevocable we don't have to take responsibility...that's scary. But then there are the people who do get it, and want a role in changing things. That's reassuring.
BTW, I'm going to be interviewed live (GACK!) on the Reality Report on Global Public Media by Jason Bradford tomorrow from 12-1 EST. There's a call in portion at the end, so feel free to participate. Live streaming is here:
http://www.kzyx.org/pages/listen_now.html and the phone number is 707-456-9991. I'll be talking about sustainable agriculture and 100 Million farmers.