Ms Betterhome

Using resources (our footprint)
September 30, 2009, 7:37 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

Another post adapted from the AIP course – assessing our current use of resources, & our needs for the future:


According to the calculator on Aaron Newton’s site, my household uses 40515 gallons per
year. We observe water restrictions here, although they’re not as strict as they
could be. In summer we have a habit of catching our shower water in a bucket before
we get in & start soaping (ie as it’s heating up). With a shower a day for each
of us, that goes a way towards watering my thirstier veggies.

Our tap water here is sourced from an inland dam, with a fairly large catchment
area that always seems to be just outside the edge of an actual rainfall. I
checked a local rainwater tank sales site that told me Sydney’s average rainfall
is around 1175 mm. (47 inches) a year. The pattern is for an average of around
470 mm. (18.5 inches) to fall between July and December, with some 705 mm. (28
inches) falling from January to June.

We are close to a river, but most streams etc have been closed in & converted to
stormwater drains. The state govt is building a desalination plant, but it will
not be terribly energy efficient, I gather.

Although I claimed in my intro we were on the edge of a sub-tropical climate (I
think in 10 years we def will be), currently we are officially ‘temperate’, with
drought & flood cycles.


Most of our meals are home-made from scratch, but this is still only a rough
estimate. Over a week-10 days in March this year we ate:

2-4 cups of rice and/or 2-5 cups of pasta
1/2 kilo (about a pound) of potato and sweet potato
1 cup of mushrooms
4 cups of salad greens (including fresh herbs)
2 cups asian greens
4-6 cups assorted veg in season (ie zucchini/eggplant/broccoli)
7-10 pieces of fruit
1 cup dried fruit
4-10 slices of bread or tortillas
a cup to 2 cups of nuts (almonds, walnuts & cashews most often)
2-4 cups of tofu
1 litre (about a gallon)of cows milk
1 litre of soy milk
½ litre each of cow & soy yogurt
¼ cup of sprouts
½ cup to 1 cup of olive oil
½ cup of vinegar or 2-3 lemons
¼-1/2 cup margarine
4 cans of tomatoes
4 cans of beans
2-4 portions dried beans
½ kilo (about a pound) of meat or chicken (Mr B only)
¼ cup -1/2 cup of cheese
1-2 cups of flour (various kinds)
1-2 cups oats
½ cup jam
½ block dark chocolate
4 tablespoons chutney
¼ cup sugar or other sweetener
Assorted splashes of soy & other sauces
4 tablespoons egg replacer
4 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
About 100gms rice crackers (ie a package)
2-3 litres soda water
2-4 bottles of wine

We currently grow very little food – mostly greens, herbs and the occasional lemon, but it would be better than nothing is the rest of our diet was pantry
stores. I make sprouts and yogurt, & sometimes bake bread at home.

The whole `food miles’ issue is difficult here. The area around Sydney is
actually quite fertile – we still have market gardens with in the official city
limits, and national parks that contain small amounts of native edible plants
(plus good old weeds). However, housing sprawl has been allowed to build out
lots of the local small farm, making us more reliant on food trucked in from
further away.


I don’t have a real indicator of my current household’s usage yet, but looked at
last winter’s bill’s (when I was living solo):

Natural Gas (hot water & cooking) consumption was (on average) 35 megajoules
per day during winter.

Electricity (lights, heating, gadgets) on average was 1.20 kilowatts per day.
July (mid-winter) quarterly bill was for 287 kw, April bill (when neither fans
nor heaters were running) was 108kw.

(sorry, I wasn’t sure of the most meaningful non-metric conversions for these).

We have a camping stove & a small gas barbeque (with gas bottle). I also have a thermal cooker, but I’ve only experimented with it once.

Health care:

Australia has a universal health care system, but it doesn’t cover dental work.
I have private health cover for basic hospital plus extras (ambulance, dental,
optical, acupuncture etc), Mr Betterhomes has none.

He has serious allergies to grass seed, and is currently on a program of
injections designed to desensitise him. Herbal remedies might well help, too.

I have an old injury which causes some weakness in my left leg. I have been lax
with my exercises lately, but can take more care of it when I put my mind to it.
I also have (benign) uterine fibroids that are beginning to bug me.

More worrying, I have long-term damage from the after effects of juvenile
peridontal disease that mean regular treatment from a dental hygienist. It would
be almost impossible to find a non-professional alternative to this. I am likely
to lose teeth without this care – not a happy prospect.

I prefer alt therapies, and will herbal teas, tinctures & creams (from a herbal
dispensary in the city) in preference to things like steroid creams,
anti-depressants etc. I keep a small stockpile at home, alongside more orthodox
items such as Betadine, painkillers & bandages

I’m still (theoretically) fertile, though neither of us has plans for kids. I use a menstrual cup for my periods, & we use a combination
of condoms & outercourse for contraception.


We both have mobile phones – I can’t say I would trust the networks in an
emergency – they overload on Xmas day & New Years Eve as a matter of course.

We have an array of electrical gear – almost none of it essential. I have
flashlights, candles, matches, a windup lantern and and a battery/wind-up radio with a phone charger & LED lantern built in.

Mr B’s ute gets 500 km (about 311 miles) per tank. He currently refills the
tank about once a month. He also has a well-maintained mountain bike. We walk to
local stores.

I take the bus to work & use the bus and/or train to run
errands/visit friends. The Sydney public transport system is not on par with
places like London & New York, but it’s pretty good where we live. We are about
15 minutes gentle walk from the nearest railway station. I would like to get a
bike that would be safe for my injured leg, possibly also with a small back-up
engine to help with the (many) local steep hills – am researching at present.


Some form of refrigeration is essential here most of the year if perishable food
is to be stored for more than half a day. We currently run a second hand `upside
down’ fridge, with a large freezer compartment at the bottom.

We have a reasonably efficient washing machine we use about 4 times a week, and
a dryer we use almost never (line drying is the done thing in Australia – we
boggle at the US laws forbidding it!). I didn’t own a washing machine in my last
house, & am a proficient bathtub /bucket washer when I have to be.

I’ve just started bottling jams & chutneys, & I have small food dehydrator… but have not
started experimenting with it yet.


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