Energy Diet

This week marks the last stretch for the energy diet. Unlike other diets I imagine, it’s not exactly a big deadline looming ahead after which we get a free pass to say, run an electric kiln in our back yard and whip out the 4×4 Utility Vehicle to do Fartlek exercises from lamppost to lamppost in our street.

Most of the changes we have made are safely in place, in fact, I think that it will take more effort to go and undo those. For instance, our second geyser is switched off. We don’t use the bathroom and don’t think about it. We have gotten used to boiling the odd kettle for warm water in the sink, but the dishwasher takes care of most of our dishes, which we also only run when full, about every second or third day, so there is the big electricity saving there. (It helps to have enough coffee mugs to go around)

Setting the pool pump to a longer cleaning cycle (lessening the amount of hours it is on daily, as well as setting it to run on off-peak times) was also relatively painless. The pool is still blue, so I think we can keep up the status quo with that one.

We reduced our electricity severely by not using any other heating for the house instead of the anthracite heater. Even when the heater died a couple of times, we did not give in (partly because we don’t have any electrical heaters in the house!) and just dressed warmly until the coals started glowing again.

One of the things that I am glad we got around to doing, which we wanted to do energy diet or not, was starting a vegetable garden.  After thinking that we planted it too late in the season and that everything died, we’ve spotted a mystery plant that does not look like a weed! I think it may be either beans or peas, because it looks like it might be in need of something to climb. Not a total failure then! I cannot wait for it to bear something edible! (The other mystery plant turned out to be parsley. Which goes with everything, and also fights off halitosis. Yay for us!)

I found the hardest part of the challenge to forego the plastic grocery bags. In total honesty, I think we actually added significantly to the original number of bags we had, instead of whittling it down to zero. I feel like an ex-junkie trying to kick the habit, but surrounded by a bunch of enablers: ‘Do you want a plastic bag with that’ haunts me now even in my dreams. Of course I should take responsibility, and it is really because I don’t carry my own grocery bag with me. Sometimes I’m just such a slow learner! I am now looking for a cute printed bag that folds up tiny to fit into my handbag. I’ve seen them around, I’m taking the next one that crosses my path!

As disappointed as we were by our cloth diaper fail, we decided that we were not giving up on that venture. I have also had encouraging reports from others who have tried it, so we will try again soon.

The most important bit for us was to realise that as a pretty ‘regular’ household we could put small changes in place that could make a difference, and that it is very easy to adjust to these changes.  Even the harder ones, such as using cloth diapers and using your car less we have found worth the effort.

During the challenge we have also had positive feedback from friends and relatives. I think for the most part people want to do something, but need a small push to put it into action. This blog was a catalyst for that change in us. Hopefully it inspired others to do the same, because it really wasn’t that hard to do.

It was fun, thanks for having us!

Mark, Cecilia and Hannah



  1. Christina Nunez
    July 12, 2011, 5:26 pm

    Loved hearing your part of the radio interview Cecilia. Thank you so much for bringing your humor and ingenuity to this challenge!

  2. lori
    July 14, 2011, 10:22 am

    Cecilia – look up bunchi bags.

    They are durable bags made from parachute material so they are strong, lightweight and you could fit a zillion into your handbag. Made by disadvantaged women – so you are supporting people who need to be supported. They are a local Jo’burg group. I found them at the Rosebank rooftop market, but I am not sure if they are there every week!
    Well done on the challenge!

  3. Christina Nunez
    July 14, 2011, 10:44 am

    Lori, that’s a cool initiative, and great that it’s local to Cecilia! For those based in the States, I am a huge fan of these portable totes:

  4. Cecilia
    September 13, 2011, 3:52 am

    Hi Lori! (You out there? tap-tap-tap) Took an awful long time to respond to this, but thanks for the tip on the bags, I have been looking out for them, will make a trip to the market soon!