Energy Diet

Finding New Boxes to Check

Addressing the subject of “wild card” tasks is one the hardest for us. It’s kind of difficult to invent something that was not already a part of your prearranged boxes. Maybe we are just not creative enough. Well! We’ll give it a chance and try it anyway.

At the store, we tend to reduce buying unnecessary goods by having a list handy, rather than throwing things into the shopping cart. But one thing that isn’t mentioned on this diet is how to reduce paper purchases. We have two stacks of paper near our printing machine and when we print a final version, we use new paper, but when we print drafts, we always use already used paper and turn it around for another use. By making double-sided printouts whenever we can, we reduce the quantity of new paper that we use and, of course, buy.

On the subject of repairing old clothes and extending their use, I myself regularly make some smaller sewing repairs at home with my sewing machine (for example: zippers, etc.) and I also knit from an old wool – when someone at home has an old pullover, I reuse the wool. I knit another pullover or something else with the same old wool (see attached photos!).

We also always return old electronics to the store, because (as I already wrote about) in Slovenia stores are legally obligated to take old electronics back when you buy a new one in the same store. The same system is also in place for all kind of old machines (dishwashers, TVs, washing machines, etc…). When you don’t buy another one, you can bring it to the waste disposal areas which are located on some special places all around Slovenia (see my previous post!). We also collect used batteries in our kitchen and bring them in special boxes to stores or petrol stations, which then direct them to proper recycling facilities. In Slovenia we can also return empty printing cartridges to the store, which we always do.

Milk machine at the nearby farm

Milk machine at the nearby farm

Regarding food, we already eat more than 70- or maybe even 80-percent vegetarian — especially me, the guys a little less. We almost never have take-away meals, mostly because these kinds of meals are not very usual in Slovenia. For this reason we don’t have much opportunity to do so. Our children are aware that fast food is not good for health so we almost never eat it and at the same time reduce the amount of waste disposal.

That means that we eat at home, what we cook or we eat outside in the restaurant or canteen, especially during working weekdays. We eat a lot of homegrown vegetables and fruits, because my husband’s parents have a garden nearby and we get it from them (as I already spoke about it in one of my previous posts). We also get milk and eggs in a farm nearby. We pour milk in the glass bottles.

Because such milk doesn’t have a long life term, we have to go to the farm twice or even three times a week. We go walking or by bike, because it’s in the vicinity. We also have a special box for eggs and we can use the same one many times. Every year we buy olive oil from a farmer in the Primorska region and potatoes in Gorenjska region so we do not need to buy them in the store. We buy those items in larger quantities once or twice a year and we store them in the cellar for everyday’s use.

As I already wrote about, we use two cars to go to work and children rides buses to go to school. That’s in the winter time, but during spring, summer and autumn I practice to go to my work by bike. I work only 7 kilometers (4 miles) away from home. At work I spend half of my working time outside of the office, so I ordered a bike also at work and they approved my application. So in October 2010 I also got a bike at work to go around Ljubljana for working purposes (instead of using a car as before).

I like biking very much and my city is very comfortable for bikers, because almost the whole area is flat (there are no hills). I should also mention that when I use car during winter months, I carpool with two of my neighbors and also my oldest son, who all work or study at the city center at the same time as I do. When my husband and I drive a car we drive fuel efficiently (without fast accelerations, around 110 kilometers per hour (68 miles per hour) on highway, regularly checked pressure in tires). In March 2010 we bought a new car with less engine capacity and less consumption but with the same technology.

When I wrote about water use (in my third post) at first I didn’t mentioned the use of toilet water. You remembered me on this issue, because from our point of view it’s normal that you have toilet flushes in two stages (see photo!). It’s incomprehensible to think it the other way, because we use such system for many years. And we don’t use it only at home, but also all around in public places. Something we are proud of is watering indoor plants with rain water because we didn’t do it for many years. We just started couple of years ago.

At home we made these energy efficiency measures for less energy consumption:
• Change old heating device with new one with energy efficient technology and quality regulation
• Removal of barriers in front of radiators
• Shortening times for ventilation in winter (all windows should be open at the same time)
• Switching off the lights if nobody is in the room
• Not using electricity for water heating
• Reduce unwanted heating in summer with heat protection screens and change thermostat to higher temperatures in summer
• Cooling down the house during nights with opened windows
• Change old toilet flusher with new one with variable amount of flushing water (as I already mentioned previously)

I don’t know if I put all measures stated above correctly in new check boxes, because it’s too much of everything, but I believe you got the picture. 🙂


  1. Rob Covey
    February 21, 2011, 1:22 pm

    I love reading your posts. Thank you!

  2. […] me from making yet another purchase involving packaging and energy. I’m not as impressive as Mateja, who makes new sweaters out of old wool, but I will mend holes and […]

  3. Mateja
    February 23, 2011, 12:12 am

    @ Rob thx. 🙂

  4. clipton
    February 23, 2011, 12:57 pm

    Nice blog Mateja. I saw you mentioned, “not using electricity for water heating.” What is your substitute?

  5. Mateja
    February 23, 2011, 2:05 pm

    @Clipton, as we already wrote about in our post, we use natural gas instead.

  6. […] everyday bread, we can walk or bike to a little store nearby. Also for milk and eggs, which we buy at a nearby farm, we can go walking or biking. By buying goods directly from farmers, we avoid the commercial sales […]