Inside views on the jobs market
Mom goes green in the recession
Written by Sylvia Cochran
Bills are piling up, creditors are calling even before the grace period has elapsed, the kids’ college funds are virtually zero, and I hear a drum roll whenever I open the IRA statement.
Welcome to a day in the life of a Los Angeles-area stay-at-home mom.
After my husband made it through the latest round (third round? fourth round?) of the cable industry’s layoffs, we were relieved. Nevertheless, California is hit hard by the sudden loss of home-equity capital, rising food and gasoline prices and state sales-tax rates that just went up by 1 percent — now about 9.25.
Frugality started small. I learned to ferret out money-saving billing options from the utility companies. For example, Southern California Edison offers customers the opportunity to apply for a level payment plan. Summer electricity use is higher, and winter use is significantly lower. SCE takes a year of charges and averages the amounts, making the monthly bill predictable and easy to budget for.
Then something interesting happened. To pinch pennies, we learned to go green. We rarely glanced at the Home Depot and Lowe’s displays about energy-saving innovations. But with the cost of energy going up (SCE announced in March that it would raise rates by 2 percent), these displays suddenly held great interest.
Because of the recession, we learned to reduce energy consumption. Now the thermostat on the water heater is set to warm not hot, and one night we turned off all the lights to be surprised just how many blinking status lights were still on.
Since then I have hooked up virtually everything to kill-all switches that I can hit at the end of the day, when I really do not need to have the radio, TV, VCR, DVD player and all the other appliances sucking energy from the wall in exchange for being ready for use.
Being green also means setting up a container vegetable garden. Growing veggies in containers is so easy that it makes me wonder why I hadn’t thought of it before. Seeing how nutritious tomatoes are and how much a single watermelon vine will produce, it’s a no-brainer to grow these in the sunny Southern California climate. I like to take full advantage of the sun and the convenience of the container garden. I am now experimenting with artichokes. Who knew that they come back each year?
In some ways, it is a sad testimony that going green did not happen until a recession virtually forced it on us.