RDP #28: Reduce


My kitchen is probably the biggest power eater in my apartment: the fridge, freezer, microwave, oven, cooking range – they are all on stand bye.

Life has become one big battle of reductions. We all do it the wrong way. My ancestors lit a candle or later used gas. No-one really asked where the gas came from. Everyone had a so-called meter and you fed it with change when the gas was no more. You would be cooking a cake in the oven, perhaps  the meat and vegetable were on the flame and suddently the flame got smaller and weaker and it was no more. It was time to put money in the metal box, the meter, to get your supply of gas again. The funny thing in those days was no-one cried  to save the gas. People were not rich, but paying as you go seemed to be more manageable than having a monthly bill through the letter box.

Perhaps it was growing up in these surroundings that gave me a basis for not living as if there was a second world around the corner. If we left a room in our little house in London we switched the light off. It was a normal state of affairs, you save electricity. My mum remembers her mum as being one of the first in our back street in the East End of London to sign for the street to be opened up to lay the electric cables. We continued to cook by gas because the gas pipes were already there, but now we had an electric light and no longer needed to light the gas holder for light. This electricity was new, and my grandparents, as well as my parents, learned to care for it.

Growing up under these circumstances, it was in your system. I have now been married 50 years (next year) and I am still switching off the bathroom light when the bathroom is empty. The kitchen is the place where this electricity is mostly used, but our dishwasher is only in use from 9.00 p.m. in the evening, as we have half price electricity from 9 in the evening until 6 in the morning. This is the same for our washing machine in our linen room in the cellar and that is only switched on for a wash at 9.00 in the evening. The biggest wash, the white wash, is just 1 hour 20 minutes so I can easily hang it in the evening and it dries by the morning.  Perhaps you might think this complicated, but our electricity bill remains normal.

I even recharge the battery in my wheelchair from 9 in the evening. Our electric life mainly exists in the night hours.

I am not an environment freak that wants to save the world, but just like to save my own money. I remember once seeing an elderly lady in the supermarket with her granddaughter. She was buying eggs and the granddaughter intervened. “No granny, not those eggs, they are not environment friendly. take those from the hens living in natural circumstances”. They were 50% more expensive, but granddaughter was being kind to the hens If granddaughter had known what she was talking about, she would have realised that battery chickens are forbidden in Switzerland and they all have room to take a walk on their farms. I am also sure that grandmother did not have so much money to buy the more expensive eggs.

However it goes without saying that I am careful of what I use in my daily life and avoid using plastic where I can, or at least give it back to the recycling depot. Even our newspapers are collected once a month for recycling. Of course we have computers and a television, you just have to keep everything in its place. I switch my computer off and disconnect it when it is not being used: it is just common sense. I do not live a life of reduction, if I had wanted to, I could have become a nun I suppose.


RDP #28: Reduce

22 thoughts on “RDP #28: Reduce

  1. Yesterday I was thinking about all this. I was opening a bottle of cream. I suddenly remembered cream when I was a kid. It was delivered by the milkman to the milkbox in front of the house. It came in a bottle. The bottle had a small paper cap on it. When the bottle was empty, it was placed in the milkbox to be sterilized and reused. The little paper cap went (with other paper) into an incinerator in the backyard and was burned when the incinerator was full, maybe twice a month or less. We had one trash can. It was less than a meter tall. Veggie garbage went into the garden. That didn’t leave much left for that little trash can. The ONE advantage to plastic bottles is shampoo. I remember breaking glass shampoo bottles in the shower and with poor vision and bare feet, it was scary. BUT if a person washed one’s hair in the sink (as my mom preferred for obvious reasons, meaning glass bottles) those accidents didn’t happen.

    I now have two IMMENSE bins (and a composter). One bin is for garbage, one is for recycling. The bins come up to my shoulders and are bigger around than I am. I dunno…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always had my hair washed in the sink at home for the simple reason that we did not have a bathroom. Everything was done in the sink. If you wanted a real bath, you went to the baths locally. We were not spoiled. The garbage was put in a bit metal bin which was collected once a week. No plastic linings, the bin men just threw some sort of pink powder in the big afterwards, some sort of disinfectant. I think mum burnt some stuff on our fire now and again, as an open fire, which is now a luxury, was in those days the only heating we had to keep warm in winter.
      Today throwing rubbish away is a science. The garden stuff comes in a special container, the cardboard and the newspapers are collected in a special collection. Of course it all has to be paid for and the plastic rubbish bags that we fill and put in the big container where we live cost a fortune. At least it makes us save on the rubbish we throw away.

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    • At night less current is used, so they make it cheaper. Some even have the cheap rate on Saturday and Sunday, but you have to pay a little extra monthly for that, and it is not worth it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “Everyone had a so-called meter and you fed it with change when the gas was no more. You would be cooking a cake in the oven, perhaps the meat and vegetable were on the flame and suddenly the flame got smaller and weaker and it was no more. It was time to put money in the metal box, the meter, to get your supply of gas again. ”

    I have never heard of this. That would have been an amazing time to live. I don’t think they had this kind of thing in The States… but I am looking it up! Thanks for the share!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am not so sure if it was really amazing, but it worked. Often the problem was that you did not have the right coin for the meter and had to run around to the neighbours to see if they had half a crown or a two shilling piece. My mum had this system for a long while in England, even when she moved house after I was already living in Switzerland.

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  3. Awareness of consumption is how we begin to change. Simple things make a difference. And paying attention, as you are to where it matters and where it may not. Interesting to know that the swiss don’t allow battery farms for animals (at least the hens) Gives me hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I always enjoy your writing and I learned so much in this particular entry. Feeding the coins in the gas meter is something I’ve never heard of. We also have reduced price hours for electricity, and I try to use them for the big things like dishwasher and clothes washer. Good reminders here, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some things have to be in plastic for hygienic reasons. It would be too complicated to take your own cup or whatever and get it filled with your flavour, but you can use the empty pots for various purposes.

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  5. I would save the world if that were in my power. In the meantime, I have the lowest electric bill in my neighborhood. There are no extra lights burning. Nothing is on when no one is watching it. Computers are unplugged or off at night.

    Like you, I grew up in that post-war world where you didn’t waste things. I don’t buy more food than we can reasonably eat. I’m very careful with power and gasoline. I think that is how we were raised, that we were lucky to be alive and not starving like “the children in Europe” and later like “the children in China” and eventually “the children in Africa.” These days, it might well be the people around the block.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I also hate waste. I know I am successful with saving on energy bills. We had a basic increase in power charges, but my bill stayed more or less the same. When no.1 son is eating with us, I rarely have food left and I put any rests on one side to re-serve.
      Today everyone wants to save our environment and we are retracing our steps to where we were before plastic. That’s ok, commendable, but some things have to be. Where would the diabetics be without their pens and my MS medivine would not be possible without the ready made disposable injections.


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