R #1

It does not take much to become “world famous in New Zealand,” and even less in Wanganui. We love Wanganui because it is a city of 45,000 but feels like a small town because everyone (nearly) is so friendly and everyone (nearly) reads the Chronicle.

After one short article (Couple hopes green renovation inspires), we could not enter a shop or get on the bus without someone saying, “I saw you in the paper. Good on ya!” But that was three weeks ago and our quarter hour of fame has faded…or so I thought. As the last of the stainless steel fibre cement nails were driven into the Hardy plank yesterday afternoon, I rushed into Mitre 10 Mega on my way to the police auction and annual holiday spot prize giving at Haywards Auctions. I hardly had time to gag at the price ($30 for 500 grams) when a voice rang out behind me. “I read about you in the paper. I see you in here all the time.”

Following a brief interchange, he said, “You must be a real greenie.”

I took a deep breath and replied, “Actually, I’m an economist.”

Brief silence.

“Look, oil is at 90 dollars a barrel and petrol is pushing 2 dollars a litre. Being green is only going to save you money in the long run. Everything we are doing in our house is to save money in the long run. And as energy prices go higher and higher, we’ll save more and more.”

“Yeah, I know,” he shrugs. “I drive a V8 supercharged.”

Brief silence.

“Thanks bro, I gotta go.”

The point of this story is to introduce the first of our Rs: Reduce. It is hard to explain this concept in the context of Western consumer society. It is like explaining the desert to a whale or the ocean to a cactus. It is like the negative image of a photograph.

Additionally, reduction is not really something you do so much as something you don’t do. You don’t…waste. You don’t waste anything: time, money, energy, materials, water, etc.

By designing efficient systems, buying second-hand goods, investing in energy efficiency, and embracing creative reuse, we have reduced: our construction costs, our carbon footprint, our power bills, our waste disposal bills, and our grocery bills. With those savings we can reduce the time we work for money and increase the time we surf!

Peace, Estwing

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