Read the photo-story on me: “A fridge too far? Living sustainably in NYC by unplugging” from the Associated Press

January 26, 2023 by Joshua
in Leadership, Nature, Stories, Visualization

Katherine Roth interviewed me about unplugging my fridge and apartment from the electric grid and Bebeto Matthews photographed me cooking and putting my solar panels on my roof. Read the story and see the pictures at A fridge too far? Living sustainably in NYC by unplugging.

I hope it helps achieve one of my main goals for this experiment: for a few people to say “You can do that!? I want to try!” The goal is not for them to copy my results but to apply my process of mindset shift followed by continual improvement to improve their lives for themselves in their lives in their way as I did in mine.

If I could change anything about the article, I’d change two things.

First, I’d clarify in my statement “If everyone could live without a fridge for, say, two weeks over the course of the year, it would save an extraordinary amount of power” that the savings would come from our resilience at home enabling vastly decreasing the entire power grid. Not needing over 99 percent uptime could mean not needing heavily polluting peaker plants or colossal battery storage. It would mean more security from weather and terrorism.

Second, I’d make the m in millions a b in “Setting an example for millions of people so that they see that this is even possible? That’s huge.” Over half the world lives in cities. Setting an example for billions of people so that they see that this is even possible? That’s huge.

A couple small changes I don’t mind still showing: One, you can see the sticker on an avocado. They don’t sell them locally and farmers markets and CSAs don’t use stickers. The article doesn’t mention I salvaged the avocado volunteering, delivering the food they were going to throw out to a community center, one of the activities that emerged from the time freed by disconnecting from the grid. Estimates by the receivers of the food led me at first to calculate My volunteering amounts to donating about $50,000 per year of food, but I since re-estimated it’s probably more like half that amount.

Two, you can see some mold in my empty fridge and freezer. It’s been off since September 2021. It has a good seal, so the moisture in it will form some mold. It’s nothing compared to the amount of pollution it saved. And “the environment” and “pollution” aren’t abstract to me. Nine million people a year die from breathing polluted air, as one of countless measures of people suffering and dying from our comfort and convenience that aren’t even making us healthier or happier. Each of those people dying had family.

Rich people say poor people can’t do everything and use it as an excuse not to act themselves, making no sense. If you have access to farmers markets and CSAs, use them. The most effective way to enable access to communities without is to shop there. The most effective way to deprive yet more communities of access is to buy doof, takeout, and food shipped from far away, which fund industries that extract time, money, and other resources from communities, causing poverty.

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