Sunday, April 8, 2007


Answers for Deanna, whose whole post is here: comment

I'd love to do my quotations here with margin insets; but I'm too lazy to figure out how; I'm on a Mac, and this setup is a little cranky about it.

>>So, it seems you really would like people to give up their refrigerators.

Well. I would really like people to think about it seriously. No pressure. The planet is running on "broil", but what the hay, no pressure. :-)

I would like to emphasize, or re-emphasize that I'm highly in favor of individual choice- and in favor of folks not being obnoxious about other people's choices. It's definitely not that I think all paths are equally good- but persecution is pretty well demonstrated to be a way to shut down conversation- as well as civilization.

>>I wanted to get your thoughts of the impact of that many thousands of refrigerators going into the waste stream?

I can't tell you how delighted I am to have thoughtful people reading here. You're quite right- somebody needs to think about the consequences.

>> if everyone is to give theirs up (let's say a government imposed requirement unless for medical necessity, etc.) there's no market for used fridges.

I can weasel out of this one; and don't really think it's weasely- certainly in the early days of any movement away from universal personal refrigerators, there will be TONS of folks who are not on the bandwagon- the market for used fridges should initially be quite good.

If the day should ever arrive where a government imposed rules- it should not be terribly difficult to "phase-out" the whole phenomenon. We should be able to see it coming. First thing would be to require inefficient fridges to go to the recycler immediately- which would mean there would be a considerable initial market for good used ones again. It would even make excellent environmental sense to ship them to country B, which is NOT partaking of this imagined government ban- then they won't have to build new ones; a gain in itself as you see below here-

>>So what happens to all those old and lightly used fridges? Well, the epa site claims that the following (more or less) happens to your old fridge:

Lots of recycling details there- good stuff. Yeah, it's a mess. Partly what seems to have made Deanna's ears perk up was the mention of the several Ozone Depleting materials that come out of fridges when they're trashed. Sure, that's not good.

>>Anyway, if that much ozone is getting blown into the atmosphere, is that good too?

I'm sure that's just a typo- you meant freon, or the equivalent. Here's the thing- all the fridges currently in existence WILL go through this trashing process eventually. So those consequences are already in the pipeline- there's really nothing we can do to stop them. In terms of the planet's time frame- fridges are short lived; the trash is their immediate future.

What we CAN do is prevent NEW fridges from being made- by decreasing the demand, now, quick, with a personal choice type movement. In case you haven't noticed, waiting for the Gummint to save our behinds is a losing proposition. The government follows US, in fact.

Every person who stops using a home refrigerator means one that will NOT be built, just down the road. And selling your good used one now means the demand for new will decrease- by TWO- now.

I'll toss out two other consequences I've considered; one good, one bad. There are more, to be sure, but these are substantial.

Good Consequence: The makers of refrigerators will be appalled and terrified if people start unplugging and selling their fridges. Really. I'll guarantee you, one of their first reactions will be to increase the efficiency, durability, and greenness of the machines they make. In fact they'll compete over it. Home fridges could be HUGELY more efficient. Lots of ways- like using vacuum for the insulation, instead of foam. Yup, vacuum is a bit more expensive. So is the more efficient motor. So? We're all of us going to have to get used to the idea that "clean" is not cheap.

What's killing us fast is the fact that CHEAP is FILTHY. We bloody can't AFFORD cheap, anymore. We need the best, most efficient- most durable goods we can imagine.

A real movement to unplug will put a LOT of pressure on; very fast. So- a bunch of people will quit using home fridges altogether- and the remainder will slowly shift to machines that are much greener. And lots of folks WILL find a place in-between; shifting from a huge fridge to a small one; or using one only 3 months of the year- there are lots of ways.

Horrible Consequence: somewhere, sometime, a small child will once again crawl into a turned-off fridge, become locked in, and suffocate. This already happens, every year. But if there are a lot more turned-off machines, the chances go up. And it will make a bunch of people very unhappy. Including me.

But it's not a reason not to unplug. It's a reason to THINK about what you're doing, and make sure the fridge is deactivated safely (take the door off, for crying out loud.)


Anonymous said...

Some good ideas, and definite food for thought. Not sure we're at the point of not using a fridge, but I have started looking at what does and doesn't need refrigeration. We'd like to build a root cellar, but the basement of our current home is a little damp.

Meantime, if we do decide to turn the fridge off, we can still use it for storage (selling a house without appliances doesn't go well in this area, so the new owners would get a very nice Energy Star fridge/freezer).

Heather Gray
(Holyoke, MA)

Robbyn said...

Do you have any suggestions for my climate? I'm in Florida, and needing ideas. Unfortunately, we have acclimated to AC to the point where it will take our eventual move to acreage OUT of the city (where we can safely keep windows raised for ventilation) and a period of time to get used to the "untempered" hot temps. Any suggestions?

Also, do you preserve your food for the times it's not so readily available? We don't live in a forageable area, for the most part, but I'm trying to gather ideas of how we can shrug off our dependency on modern "musts." To us, this spells freedom, whatever OUR choices will be throughout the process.

Would love your insights on these things, since you've been living it for so long! :)