The topic of green living is vast and variable. It would be quite easy to get lost in the details. I don't really want this blog to turn into a discussion of my lifestyle on a farm. Most of the people on the planet don't live on farms; and aren't going to, any time we can see in the future. We are now a city based species.
My life here is relevant to city life, however; I hope. I want to start one such conversation here today.
I live without a refrigerator. Have for 3 decades. If you live in a city- you do not need a refrigerator. AT ALL.
-->> It would be easier to do without one in the city than it is in the country.
A great deal of what's in your fridge absolutely does NOT need to be there. If you're interested in trying this, just start by taking all these things out of your fridge, and putting them in a pantry type situation:
Butter/margarine - shelf life about 2 weeks
Eggs -shelf life at least a week
Cheese - keep covered, shelf life variable- taste when unrefrigerated hugely better
ketchup/mustard - shelf life - forever
honey - shelf life - forever
onions/garlic - shelf life - 2 weeks
tomatoes - shelf life - 4 days
cabbage - shelf life - 1 week
cooking oil - shelf life - months
peanut butter - shelf life - months
Ok, long enough list for now, though of course there's more. Some of you are saying "he's crazy, I never keep cooking oil in the fridge!" True, I'm sure; but I know plenty of people who do; just to "be safe". And every time they take it out to cook dinner- the bottle warms up, the door is opened twice, and somewhere, some coal is burned to re-cool it when it goes back in.
What about meat? Milk?
Yeah, refrigeration is a good idea, if you have to keep it more than 6 hours or so.
Here's what we do, out in the country; we buy a little meat when we go in to town, use it immediately. Sometimes, if it's a bigger cut like a pot roast, we keep it for 3 or 4 days- cooked on day one, and re-heated whenever eaten- then carefully simmered with the tight top on the pot. And we're very careful NEVER to open the pot- until ready to re-heat. It's just like sterilizing a petri-dish, or hospital equipment- heat it, keep it closed, it stays sterile. Soups- same thing.
Milk- we buy in town sometimes, or use powdered milk in cooking or for kids if they need it. No, it's not as tasty usually- but we all live through it. Can't tell the difference in cooking, I think.
Much of the rest of what folks use refrigerators for clearly comes under the category of "luxury". Ice cream; beer, pop.
Would you be better off if they weren't so handy? If you're like me, if the ice cream is there- I'll eat it. Then buy more. How much of our obesity epidemic is due to having a handy supply of treats in the fridge- all the time?
In a city- it's dead easy to "stop off" somewhere, and just buy - a little ice cream; a little meat; one cold beer.
On days when you aren't going out - do without. Won't kill ya to have potatoes and canned peas for dinner, or a cheese omelet.
This, potentially, is a big deal. Refrigerator lust is one of the things driving huge energy use increases in the developing world- everybody wants one; it proves you're modern.
If we start a movement here in the Overdeveloped World to get RID of them in homes (sure, the restaurants, the stores, need them) - some folks in the OverdevelopING World would pay attention- and perhaps put the brakes on their country's rush to refrigerate. Maybe.
I've worked in China- in places where the nearest refrigerator was probably 100 miles away. Guess what? They manage just fine- and don't "need" it, until you tell them they do.
It would be relatively easy for them to KEEP their healthy habits-rather than try to recover them, after a little romance with refrigerators.
More on this coming. Please send this around- and let me have your comments.
(OH, and true confession - I HAVE rented a locker at the "freezer plant" in town, from time to time. Not at the moment.)