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Clean Alternatives to Everyday Machines: On/Off/Switch?

To wrap up my ode to John Henry (and a more sustainable lifestyle) I am going to cover a few more everyday household plug-ins by giving the current ON the grid offering, it’s OFF the grid alternative, and weigh in on whether a switch is warranted.


The Fridge: We all know what it does and why we use it–so what are the OFF the grid alternatives?


The Fridge: William “The Refrigerator” Perry, former defensive lineman for my beloved 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears. You could try contacting him to see if he’ll deliver fresh food to your door on a daily basis. I understand he’s not very busy these days.


Jarring and canning fruits and vegetables to preserve for the winter months may save some space in the fridge, but cannot replace the fridge altogether.


Realistically, it’s not likely. However, the size of refrigerators in this country is insane. My parents have an enormous fridge and regularly come across 3 year old cheeses and meats that get lost under piles of their newer/fresher replacements. In lieu of a switch to William Perry (we can’t all use him–it’s simply unrealistic) we can buy a smaller, energy efficient fridge, fill it with less food (eat fresher food), and keep the door open for very short intervals (know what you’re getting before you open it). A few generations back, families typically had more members yet much smaller fridges, so it can be done–and you’ll benefit from fresher fare.


The Air Conditioner: It’s July in Missouri for me, so I can appreciate a cool house–but what are my alternatives?


Awnings: Awnings or trees planted in front of windows provide shade, thus keeping the sun from heating up the inside of your house.


Blinds: Same as above, keep the sun from beating in and heating up (your home).


The Fridge: Have William Perry fan you (and feed you grapes) after he drops off your food.


Depending on where you live this may not be realistic. But, again WE USE TOO MUCH AC! We are AC crazy in America. Every time I walk into a big box store (fortunately, not often) it is FREEEEEZING! I know people who keep their AC at 68 degrees and BUNDLE UP while inside!

That’s INSANE. Here are a few sane AC tips:

* Keep it at 78 degrees minimum (trust me–you’ll be comfortable, we’re still warm-blooded creatures)

* Use it only when needed. Use the blinds and fans (much less power required) to help minimize use.

* Wear less clothes (no clothes?) while indoors. Turn off your AC and turn on your lover!

* Turn it off when you leave for an extended amount of time.

* Get a programmable thermostat to change the temperature–set it warmer while you’re at work, etc…

* Suggest to a manager at a store/hotel/restaurant that the temperature is too cold. The more people do, the better chance for change. I’ve been told that the reason it is so cold is because people complained it that way.


The Dishwasher: Uses a lot of energy to clean your dishes.


The Sink: Does use a lot of energy to heat the water for washing. Therefore, stop up the sink and fill it with warm water and soap (plant-based) to clean the dishes. Then rinse with cold water and towel dry.


Yep (following the steps above).

Atleast use it most of the time (since you probably already have a dishwasher–and they can be a blessing after a big party). Also, if you do use one, don’t use the heated dry. Run the dishwasher at night and leave the door open when it finishes, so the dishes can air-dry while you sleep.


The Boob Tube: Ann Landers said it best when she said, “Television has proved that people will look at anything rather than each other.” TV has become a staple in the American home. According to a study done by California State University Northridge, the number of hours per day that TV is on in an average U.S. home is almost 7 hours! TV has made us anti-social, desensitized, fame starved, materialistic, insomniacs. And we are keeping those power suckers on for almost one-half of our waking hours!


Turn it off! Sell it! Or, at the very least, pick one or two shows a week to watch as a family. TV is like dessert–it shouldn’t be the meal, but a treat on occasion.

…I’m sure William Perry would agree.

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Written By

is an Environmental/Political cartoonist for Planetsave, Elephant Journal, Wend Magazine, Twilight Earth, Ecopolitology, EcoSnobberySucks, and more... Joe also does a kids enviro-toon called Hank D and the Bee on EcoChildsPlay and NaturalPapa. Joe lives in University City, Missouri and spends his free time with his beautiful wife, enthusiastic daughter, and curious toddler of the same name. He also enjoys writing, drawing, painting, walking, biking, skateboarding, gardening, reading, listening to music, playing sports, and watching plays (especially the plays his wife's site-specific theatre company, Onsite Theatre puts on).   Visit Joe's online cartoon gallery at


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