This article was generously shared by Murtaza Nek.
I don't know how you discovered this blog. If you're like me, you decided to Google "living without a refrigerator". After some reading, I emailed Andrea. Soon after, I started trying to wean myself off my fridge, and Andrea asked me to write something up about my transition. But my story is about more than unplugging my fridge! So here I go... here I present the month where I became an activist and began to boycotting nonrenewable Texas energy.
I live in South Texas, which was experiencing record-high temperatures last July. I preferred not to use my A/C, but when the temperatures were consistently in the high 90's Fahrenheit (high 30's Celcius), I kept the A/C on all day and kept it off during the night.
Photo: Tim DeChristopher
In late July, I got an email about a heroic environmentalist, Tim DeChristopher, who in 2008 attempted to derail an illegitimate US government bidding for public lands. Not surprisingly, the lands were to be given to oil and gas companies that sought to exploit the land for profit at the expense of the local community and the environment. He posed as a bidder (the famous Bidder 70), and won bids for a lot more land than he could pay for. The email indicated that he was sentenced to two years in jail for financial fraud.
The email really hit me. It was shocking to discover yet another low the Bush administration would sink to by selling off lands to oil and gas companies back in 2008, inspiring that Tim had the guts to do something so bold but risky to oppose it, and intimidating since I realized that if we are to pursue true climate justice, a lot of people are going to need to do difficult things, possibly risk arrest and jail, to really bring attention to the issues at hand... because somehow, the messages delivered by scientists and activists, and now ever more increasingly, by nature itself, aren't enough for the masses.
I was inspired and motivated, but scared! I wasn't ready to do what Tim did, nor was I bold enough to have the courage that Tim had to be able to say, on the day of his sentencing: "The people who are committed to fighting for a livable future will not be discouraged or intimidated by anything that happens here today."
Contemplating this, I looked around my room, irritated that I live only a passive environmental life and contribute to the profits of unsustainable electric companies by consuming energy with my AC, fridge, and other things. Renewable energy is at 6% in Texas, so one is trapped supporting non-renewable energy here.
From Tim's inspiration, I stopped using my A/C, and lo and behold, it wasn't so bad! I bore temperatures in the high 90's and even low 100's Fahrenheit (high 30's/low 40's Celcius), simply by keeping my doors open to take advantage of the breeze! But the fridge... I didn't know how. That's when I wrote Andrea:
"I wanted to say THANK YOU for your blog! It was so helpful and motivating! I've just recently heard about the prison sentence of Tim DeChristopher, and was reminded of the urgent necessity for uncomfortably difficult action for climate change, but unfortunately felt that I still lack the courage to engage in civil disobedience. Thinking about how I'd like to hopefully go off the grid, I googled "living without a refrigerator" and came across your blog. Reading it was for me one of the first steps towards attempting to go off the grid, thus doing a small part to further my carbon-neutrality."
She encouraged me with her reply:
"Ideally, what we each do may be difficult but should not be overwhelming. Compact fridges or going off completely have been a good way for me to get involved, while getting more involved in activism."
I started making preparations to turn off my fridge. I expected it wouldn't be too hard, because as it happens I live alone, and hardly use my fridge. Furthermore Ramadan was about to start, and my local mosque provides free dinners for the month so I didn't have to worry about cooking. I unplugged in August, and for the first few days I kept the fridge off all day except for 5-7 hours. Every few days, though, I needed to store leftover trays of food from dinners from the mosque, so I needed to keep the fridge on continuously.
In the middle of Ramadan I received a call to engage in civil disobedience in Washington to draw attention to the environmentally disastrous tar sands in Alberta, Canada. The call also urged us to stop a Canadian company called TransCanada from building a 1,700-mile (2,700km) pipeline from the tar sands in Alberta, through Montana, and all the way to Texas, with dangerous consequences all the way down the line. So far, the US Government seems inclined to approve the pipeline.
Photo: Murtaza Nek
The Alberta tar sands region happens to be one of the largest pools of potential greenhouse carbon in the world. With the amount of CO2 already in the atmosphere, the expansion of the tar sands means it's over for us as a species, for the climate, essentially for life as we know it. The organizers called for a 15-day protest in front of the White House in Washington, DC, one in which the protestors would be risking arrest. See www.tarsandsaction.org for more details. By the way, for those of you in Canada, there is a similar such one-day action happening in Ottawa tomorrow! For further information, see this link: http://tarsandsaction.org
Long story short, I thank God for bringing me from the point where I was writing Andrea about how I thought something needs to be done, to signing up to participate in the White House protests only a few weeks later, to unplugging my fridge, to protesting and subsequently getting arrested on Monday August 29. I thereafter returned, more resolved to do greater things in pursuit of climate justice.
Back from DC, it turns out that I might be braver than I thought, my fridge is presently off, Ramadan's over, and the rest of life is before me. And as far as fridge-ditching goes, I'm no longer getting free food from my mosque, so now the *real* challenge of going fridge-less begins. Let's see what happens next.