A few days ago I mentioned what electric devices we do not use and don’t miss. Electricity is tricky. See, it seemed like a blessing upon its discovery and I am sure in many ways it was, but not without a hefty price. Electricity and oil, resources that cannot be replaced, have become such a huge part of our world that no one wants to give them up. We have billions of car parts that will never decompose. They use tons of oil and gas and have the ability to maim and kill. Of course, I don’t particularly want to walk to the next town over (seven miles on a highway) but I seem to be without a horse and carriage as well. Electricity becomes such a constant factor that we only become aware of it the few times it goes out and we then realize (horrified) that we cannot make coffee! Pollution, fracking, it is all a bit much so that we can turn on a light at 1 am.
The larger electric companies, like the one that serves Denver, is creating huge grids of solar panels and they have a large wind turbine farm an hour east of here. I used to cheer and carry on with joy about it. Except those are not perfect forms either. Disposable solar panels, batteries that never decompose, and wind turbines that take out thousands of bats and migratory birds every year. They would have to use so many of these forms because none of us want to give up an ounce of our electricity. We should be educating people of another option. Gasp. Use less. Ok, someone help me down off of this pulpit.
I could go completely off grid. Prairie style all the way. Doug would be searching for a cellphone signal around the tiny cabin and probably catch a taxi. We have to make compromises. If we did get a little solar power, a small one we could keep the few things that we enjoy. It would certainly be a smaller footprint than how the large companies are doing it and we could be more self sufficient. Here’s a few things that we could give up, may give up, but haven’t yet.
1. The Television. We watch precisely three television shows a year. Sometimes less if we get bored. This does not include Bronco football games. We watch American Idol, The Voice, and So You Think You Can Dance. We both missed our chance at Divadom and though we can sing at Rodney’s house on his karaoke system and sing to the chickens (they rather enjoy that), we like to see what others out there are doing with their voices and dance skills. It also keeps us from getting terribly bored and wandering out to eat. Perhaps when all the kids move out completely we can think of other things to do. Ahem…
2. The Coffee Grinder. I can indeed sit there for a half hour contemplating the universe while grinding coffee by the early morning light of dawn. But the quick buzzing thing does it in twenty seconds! I’ll work on it.
3. The Computer. Not bloody likely, my husband would say. He needs wifi like he needs morning coffee. I could be happy writing this at the library.
4. The Music Channel. Along the lines of getting rid of the television (or could we keep it just for movies?), there would also go my music stations. I could pick up the piano again, or the fiddle, or listen to Doug play the mandolin. We could start a band, or just sit on the porch with cold beers and entertain the neighbors. We could make mountain music. We could hum to ourselves. We could make our own music.
5. The Stove. I want a wood cook stove so bad I could cry. I would love to be able to heat the house and cook up some biscuits and eggs all in the same place. I know that after cooking on a gas stove for many years I would miss the quick kettle heat up, the fast soup heat up. I would need a summer kitchen in order to stand cooking indoors. Oh wait, I need that anyway!
6.The Refrigerator. And the last thing that requires electricity is the refrigerator and freezer. I would need a darn good root cellar and a cold creek to get away with that one. Let me think that one over.
There are many ways that we can lessen our use of electricity. A potato masher instead of an immersion blender, turn off the lights when not in use, give up the curling iron (you look great), unplug chargers and turn off power strips when not in use. All those invisible currents are still pulsing out. These things not only save us money (that we can spend on seeds) but helps out the planet. Even if it doesn’t feel like a lot now, in a few generations it will, because everything we do has a trickle down effect.