Thursday, May 13, 2010
This post is a bit late because I've been spending most of my spare time on a side project, but I finally want to recap our month of no lights or meat.
The month started off to some adjustment. Living without light got us into a routine of laying down with the sun. By about 7:30, I was already starting to feel tired, sluggish, and unproductive. This kind of concerned me because I took on a new programming project about halfway through the month and really wanted to work on it until late into the night.
I found that working on the computer with the monitor as my single source of light was really what was causing this problem. In response, I set up my desk with some candles and was able to be quite productive using only a few small peripheral candles. I also found that even having the slightest bit of ambient candlelight in any other room really helped my mood overall.
I made a spreadsheet of candlelight usage vs. room light usage and the results were pretty positive. Based on my estimations, we use about $7.50/month in lighting and less than $1/month in candles. It's not a huge cost savings, but we live in a pretty small apartment so the savings could be much more in a larger house. Somewhat ironically, our power bill went up from the same time last year because, I believe, we did a lot more stovetop-cooking and baking than we normally do by not eating meat during the month.
Living without meat has been a very refreshing experience. Neither of us really miss it and it has made us much more aware of the food we consume. We've started buying food from the food co-op and farmers' market more regularly because we are actually able to finish all of the food we buy before it goes bad.
One of the best things about living without meat is our expanded menu of food. For a long time we got into a rut of making the same things over and over, but this forced us out of our shell and made us explore new things. I've found that you can make almost any traditionally meat food you can imagine with some very tasty vegetarian substitutes.
An interesting side effect of eating no meat is how people react to it. Many aren't sure how to cater to our new diet and it seems to scare some people. We've been more than happy to bring vegetarian dishes to any occasion and I think most people that have tried them have been impressed.
One of the best lessons I have learned from living without lights is how little artificial light I really need. Sunlight provided almost all the light I really needed and when the sun wasn't out, candles provided all of the necessary light. The two exceptions here are the bathroom and the closet, neither of which have windows. The hardest thing about candlelight in the bathroom is shaving and reading, but every other task is completely doable.
We're trying to stick with no lighting as much as possible, but there are times when we use them just for the time savings. The candles are much dimmer so finding stuff by candlelight is more difficult, but I have really learned to love the glow of the candles.
We're also going to stick with no meat for the foreseeable future. We've found an ample amount of vegetarian meals that satisfy our appetite and feel much better all around because of it. I personally am not going to be strict about it and will eat meat from time to time, but I'm trying to only eat meat when it comes from reputable sources like local farms.
Overall, the experiments during the month of April were a huge success. If for nothing else, it gave us both a new perspective on the things we put in our bodies and the necessity of light. We've got a few more experiments planned coming up, but that's for another post.
Candles provide enough light for most activities and vegetables can replace meat for almost everything except when you get a hankering for a burger. We're sticking with both for the foreseeable future.