Transition Milwaukee's Power Down Week 2011

Here's a recap of a recent project of Transition Milwaukee in Wisconsin - how would you explore reducing your carbon footpring and powering down during one of the hottest summer weeks on record?

Powerdown week

What is Power Down Week? 
(adapted from a post by Founder and TM Steering Committee Member Sarah Moore)

What would happen if we all stayed home for vacation, unplugged and spent time with friends, family and neighbors and worked on a projects together? 

Imagine summer camp or a conference about getting off fossil fuel and building community, only when it ends, no one needs to go home, because we are already home!  All the bonds we make will be with people who already live near by.  

The kick off for Power Down Week 2011 was June 25th. Individual neighborhoods hosted unique workshops and projects going on until the end of the event, July 3rd. 


  1. Make your carbon foot print as small as you can
  2. Do it with others

Read Sarah's blog post about why they started it >> 

Check out the full schedule of events for the week >> 


How did it go?

"Just wanted to say Power Down Week 2011 was wonderful. There are so many people to thank I am not going to try at the moment in case I forget someone! But huge thank you everyone that organized, worked on events, offered workshops, came to events, helped spread the word and also to those who just had a relaxing staycation and powered down at home! I had a great time and again I highly recommend an off the hook staycation. Stay home and urban camp in your home!" wrote Sarah.

"We have decided to do it again next year after July 4th ( Energy Independence Day) The week will go from July 6-14th 2012.... The biggest compliant this year was that people didn't know what was going on until the week was started so the goal for next year is to have our schedule done by June 1st. We have a very strong team for Eastside/riverwest/harambee so we are going to focus there again next year, if other neighborhoods want to join in that will be great!"


Photo: Exploring a rooftop garden during the 2010 Powerdown week (original)

How Many Ways Are There to Power Down?

written by sura faraj

1. Stop drinking coffee (after all, it's shipped from a long way away)
2. Stop buying bottled water. Fill a reusable bottle.
3. Compost. Not only are you keeping food and yard waste from the land fill, you're creating better soil. Compost food-related ware made of paper such as napkins, paper plates, etc.
4. Buy food from local growers (within 100 miles). Most of the food we eat is shipped in from an average of 1500 miles away.
5. Eat less/no meat.
6. Grow your own food. Start a Victory Garden and plant a nut or fruit tree, vine or bush.
7. Preserve food by canning or fermenting it.
8. Drink local beer. With friends. Especially while plotting how to make the world a better place.
9. Wash plastic dishes and flatware after parties.
10. Make one-pot meals like stew and soup, make extra and use it for a couple of days.

  • Support/encourage restaurants to use compostable or recyclable take out containers rather than materials that don't decompose and refuse to take those materials and use alternatives.
  • Bring your own dishes to gatherings.
  • Rethink “weeds.” Many are edible, and some can be used for other uses such as dye, rope fiber or medicinal purposes. Examples: Catnip, Common Plantain (Medicinal), Self-Heal (Medicinal), Garlic Mustard, Burdock Root, Stinging Nettles, etc.

11. Bathe/shower less often
12. Wear clothing more than once before washing (unless you have been rolling around in something nasty).
13. Hang your clothes out in the summer, or inside in the winter, where it will help humidify your house.
14. Recycle, share or mend your clothes. Or give them to the Milwaukee Network for Social Change for their free market.
15. Don't flush your toilet when you pee.
16. use single-ply toilet paper. Every little bit counts.
17. Keep the warm water in your bath tub until all the warmth has released into your house - why waste this heat? You've already paid for it! Then use the cold water to flush your toilet and clean your sink and tub.
18. Save grey water from dishwashing, laundry, bath or sink to flush your toilet. Better yet, rig a clever system and share it with us.
19. Humanure. You can actually compost your waste, with a composting toilet or even using a bucket and some sawdust.
20. Use alternative feminine products like menstrual cups, sponges or washable cloth pads.
21. Use solid shampoos/conditioners (like a bar of soap). You use much less, and there is no plastic bottle. You can purchase them or find recipes online to make your own. Or get refills at Outpost or other bulk providers
22. Let your electric dryer vent its warm, moist air indoors all through the long, dry, cold winter, by putting a filter on the end of the exhaust hose. [caution: not for use with gas dryers]
23. Buy quality clothing. Invest in wool -- it is warm and can be washed much less frequently (wear and wash your undergarments). 
24. Reduce laundry by use aprons, smocks, coveralls and other outergarments for work that soils or stains.
25. Use cloth over paper for towels, napkins, diapers, etc..

  • Use 1/2 the recommended amount of detergents, dilute your soap, or better yet - make your own eco-friendly versions with locally sourced materials - no packaging and no transportation of goods.

26. Insulate your houses, put plastic on the windows, put on sweaters and long johns.
27. Turn your heat down to 65. Have contests with friends to see who can last the longest without turning their heat on in the fall, or who can turn it off soonest in early spring.
28. Turn off your TV and music, and you’re your computer. Instead, read, write, draw, with your family and friends. Host reading, drawing, stitching groups at home or a local café.
29. Have potlucks.
30. Put your computer, TV, converter box, microwave, etc on power strips, so they can be completely shut-off. Unplug other items when not in use.
31. Use items that people used before there was access to cheap fossil fuels. Examples are: wind-up clocks and watches (saves battery pollution), hand beaters, a hand-pushed lawnmower, a hand-held saw, a landline.
32. Recycle or re-purpose everything. Try not to landfill anything. Buy in bulk to avoid packaging. Reduce your garbage and your recycling.

  • Use rain barrels to collect rainwater for the garden.
  • Install low flow toilets and shower heads.
  • Localize sewage systems.
  • Buy a heated mattress pad - you can turn your heat waaaaay down in the winter!
  • Home made playdough
  • Purchase home building materials from the reuse shops like the Restore.

33. Take public transit.
34. Ride your bike.
35. If you must drive, go bio-diesel or carpool!
36. Plan and consolidate when using a car so that one trip accomplishes multiple errands. Try to consider what's on the way or in the vicinity when driving somewhere, and avoid another trip if you can pick up pet food and mail a package when you go to the dentist .
37. Take local vacations. Visit the places in your city that visitors love, but you've never or rarely seen, b/c you take them for granted.
38. Be active getting Milwaukee a modern transportation system that is sustainable and draws people out of their cars.

39. Barter. It builds relationships, saves money and keeps the exchange local. 

40. Work to end corporate charters. Corporations are forcing our government to its knees on the economy, peak oil, climate change, war, giant agribusiness, water rights, surveillance, the prison industrial complex, and the list goes on ad nauseum.
41. When people give you new stuff, re-gift it to someone who still places a high value on new stuff. There's WAY too much new stuff in the world.
42. Work to start a local currency through Transition Milwaukee.
43. Let your inner consumer stay in. Go out and love somebody. Give and stop taking.

Read more >> 



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