Posts Tagged 'energy conservation'

Coal, Incandescents and Conservation

I’m writing on the south bank of the Columbia River here in Boardman, Oregon (population 3,500). I went running last night at sunset . . . oh my. Beautiful; what a joy. I found deer tracks on the sandy beach and looked to the west, where Mount Hood was a tiny, rosy peak in the far distance.

Oregon’s only coal-fired energy plant was just a few miles to the south. This is the plant that supplies about 20% of the state’s energy, and the one that the Oregonian reported yesterday to be polluting the state’s air even more than previously thought. And coal emissions are a prime cause of global warming.

How about some energy conservation? Here in my hotel room, if and when I turn on the bathroom light, I immediately am hit with waves of heat from all of eight incandescent light-bulbs, each the size of my fist. Most hotels in the U.S. are still wasting energy like this. Compact fluorescents (CFL’s) would use 75% less energy, creating 75% less emissions.

In my view, incandescent light bulbs should soon become not legal-and-rare, but simply illegal. Freedom has to be tempered by responsibility. Fighting climate change is more important than being free to waste energy.


Cooking For Climate Change, Part 2

My husband Thor and I love to have people over for dinner. At the same time I’m addicted to sociability, I ‘m also passionate about choosing food with the smallest possible carbon footprint (similar to ’embodied energy’). Our guests keep coming back, so I gather our cooking tastes pretty good.

Here are the major guidelines we use:

  • Buying local food lowers carbon footprint more than the ‘organic’ label
    Example: Australian wine doesn’t make the cut for Oregonians
  • Build meals around what’s in season where you live
    Examples: citrus & avocados in Sun Belt; salmon & pears in Northwest
  • Avoid frozen food (freezing uses a lot of energy)
  • Exception: unless frozen food clearly reduces your car-trips to the store
  • Meat holds huge embodied energy, i.e. fossil fuel inputs
  • So, use meat sparingly as an accent or not at all
  • Build meals around pasta, beans, lentils, and whole grains
  • Right-size our servings of food
  • I.e., a normal serving of pasta is the size of one’s fist

Sidebar: When it comes to a quick bite out, we find that Burgerville is very diligent about sourcing from local farmers. And I understand they treat their employees well, too.

Cooking For Climate Change, Part 1

Last night some friends and I had one of our periodic ‘Green Girls’ dinner parties at my friend Colleen’s house. We had a blast sharing news, laughter, viewpoints and encouragement around sustainability. Colleen’s meatless eggplant mousakka was a hit.

We all eat more than 1,000 meals a year, for a big percentage of our carbon footprint. If we want to lighten our carbon footprint, the principle to embrace is that heating anything is a surprisingly big deal. It burns the fossil fuels that releases global warming gases. So if we’re cooking to combat climate change, we want to conserve heat at every turn. Some tips: (please write in with your own, too)


  • Make and post on fridge a list of your favorite no-cook meals
  • Examples: tuna salad, tasty sandwiches, crackers & cheese w/ fruit
  • Defrost any frozen foods before cooking them
  • Cook double amounts to create meals you can quickly reheat later
  • Use a stovetop burner no larger than the pan (40% of heat can be wasted otherwise)
  • Cover anything cooking on stovetop with a lid to conserve heat
  • Copper, glass and ceramic all conserve energy better than metal pans
  • When food is close to done, turn off and let coast on existing heat
  • Cook and eat with others whenever possible! — to cultivate community as much as to conserve energy

Coming up next: conserving embodied energy in Cooking For Climate Change, Part 2.

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