Madisonians share how they're living green
Amelia Royko Maurer
Owner/operator of Free Market Organics
I keep things out of landfills. We are striving for a lifestyle where all of our material possessions are preowned and reusable and the activities we engage in are guided by the same principles. Our home, furniture, some of our water, food, the containers for our goods, all have, at the very least, a second life. All of the packaging I use for Free Market Organics is on its second life. We just recently planned a festival—Evansville’s first Harvest Windmill Festival last September—that strived and succeeded at producing no landfill waste. We do this to keep items out of our landfills because we all know “landfill” is another way of saying our soil, our water, our air and our bodies. The chemicals leaching from landfills into our ecosystem are many and dangerous. Landfills affect us in a silent way, so we feel like we have to be extremely conscientious of how our daily lives impact their growth. Great places to find preowned goods, reusable goods and info on zero waste are craigslist.org and grrn.org/zerowaste.
UW–Madison graduate student in the Department of Afro-American Studies
I share a car. Community Car has saved my life! I thought I would have to save money to buy a car when I first moved to Madison. How would I get around in this new city? I can’t take the bus or cab to the grocery store, to my doctor’s office, or to my barber’s shop; and my friends will not always be available when I need them to be. But when I saw an ad about Community Car in my Eagle Heights residence, I soon discovered that I did not have to worry about these concerns anymore. Now that I use Community Car, I do not have to purchase a car, pay and purchase monthly insurance or set aside money for gas and maintenance. Even gas is provided! With Community Car’s extremely affordable rates, I spend, on average, about sixty bucks per month. Can you say savings, especially in this fiscally stressed economy?
President of Healthy Homes and director of Green Built Home
I drive a motorcycle instead of a car. Last summer, we purchased a motorcycle with a sidecar for our son to ride in so we could completely give up our cars during the warm months. Before that change, either my husband or myself had to take a vehicle every day. Most days from late April until October we are able to avoid the car. My cycle gets more than thirty miles per gallon more than our auto and it’s really a fun way to save the world.
Chair of Sierra Club Four Lakes Group
I practice hypermiling. Basically, it’s sensible driving: no jack-rabbit starts and not speeding. And it’s also techniques like watching the traffic ahead to maintain even speeds. It takes a little thought but it’s really not that hard. It gets you better gas mileage.
Community planning consultant at Vierbicher Associates
I built an efficient home. My family recently built a panelized home in a traditional neighborhood development in Madison. We worked with John Wick Homes whose studies showed their homes had about half the air exchange rate of comparable homes to reduce energy use. Also, the panelized construction process closely manages materials to reduce waste in our landfills and promote recycling for use in other homes.
Director of Wisconsin Partners for SustainAbility and founder of TerraSource Gourmet Chocolates
I’m a vegetarian. Not eating meat, seafood and poultry has a significant impact in terms of eating more directly in the food chain. Being a vegetarian means way less water being used, no animal waste polluting our watersheds, no antibiotics being fed and released in inadvertent ways. Plus it’s healthier to eat less dense foods.
Hybrid specialist at Smart Motors
I conserve water. My wife and I have a reduced-water-flow showerhead. It reduces the amount of water that comes out and filters out chlorine. It just produces more of a fine spray—it’s not even a small sacrifice.
Executive director of Sustain Dane
I bought a conveniently located home. The single most effective environmentally conscious decision my wife and I made came when it was time for us to move. We decided to purchase a home in an area where every day we could walk, bike or use the bus to easily get to the places we most frequently recreate and shop and at least one of us could use alternative transportation methods to commute to work year-round. Although we may have paid a higher premium for this location, this decision allows us to be a one-car family and saves us thousands of dollars in automobile expenses each year.
Project manager at the Energy Center of Wisconsin and author of Energy in America: A Tour of Our Fossil Fuel Culture and Beyond
I buy wind power. I purchase one-hundred-percent wind power from MGE. They buy a certain amount of power from wind farms in Wisconsin and sell it to people who want green power. It’s measured by the kilowatt-hour so you pay more if you use more. But I’m pretty careful. I’ve managed to get my electricity pretty low so I only pay about $3 more per month.
Co-founder of Happy Bambino
I vermicompost. I have a container of worms who live under my sink and eat my compost. I adore my worms. And lots of conversations are spurred—by kids and adults alike—when I mention them. We are hoping to have the worm guy come and do a mini-session at our Earth Day event at Happy Bambino.
Farm manager of Troy Community Farm
I eat seasonally. In the summertime when there is so much bounty in all the markets and gardens around town, my partner and I spend our evenings canning and freezing as much as we can. Even though it is a lot of work in the summer, winter meals are a breeze with so much food in storage. Potatoes, onions, garlic and squash are the easiest to store. All you have to do is put them in a cold closet or basement and make sure you don’t wash them until you need them. That way their waxy cuticles stay intact and keep them from shriveling too much. Our next big plan is to build a solar food dehydrator. We love sun-dried tomatoes!
Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine.