This NYC man is too cool for his refrigerator.
Manhattan resident Josh Spodek has stopped using his fridge for over a year — sacrificing the everyday appliance and its benefits in hopes of living a more sustainable life.
Spodek, who lives in Greenwich Village, has spent the past 12 months culling back on the waste in his household, identifying his fridge as the biggest source of electrical use.
So, the 51-year-old decided to see if he could go without it and unplugged it.
Spodek has now gone over 12 months without chilling his food or beverages, calling it “a mind-set shift followed by continual improvement.”
“People in Manhattan lived without refrigeration until the mid-20th century, so it’s clearly doable,” he told the Associated Press.
Spodek said his food can generally be kept for about two days on his windowsill from November to early spring. It also helps that he’s vegan and doesn’t eat meat or diary — products which can have significant health risks if not refrigerated.
“In the winter, it’s just beets and carrots and potatoes and onions, plus dried beans and grains,” he said. “You take what you have and you make it taste good and now I just have to eat what I buy before it goes bad, or pickle it so it lasts a bit longer.”
Initially, the executive coach said he began just unplugging his refrigerator for three months over the winter.
“I honestly wasn’t sure I could survive a week without it. I didn’t really have a plan for how I would get by without one,” he said. “But I figured it wouldn’t kill me, and I could always plug it in again.”
The next year, Spodek, who is also an adjunct professor at NYU, decided to shut it down for six months before plunging into a full fledged-fridge-free life.
He found that he actually didn’t need it at all.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, refrigerators are one of the most important pieces of equipment in the kitchen for keeping foods safe.
“Refrigeration slows bacterial growth. Bacteria exist everywhere in nature. They are in the soil, air, water, and the foods we eat,” the agency explained. “When they have nutrients (food), moisture, and favorable temperatures, they grow rapidly, increasing in numbers to the point where some types of bacteria can cause illness.”
USDA said that “bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 F and 140 F some doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes,” so having a refrigerator “set at 40 F or below will protect most foods.”
Spodek still cooks at home, using ingredients bought at farmers markets and a farm cooperative. He also utilizes an electric pressure cooker powered by a portable solar panel and battery pack, which he carries up 11 flights of stairs to his roof.
It’s “almost spiritual,” he said of his ritual.
Spodek insisted he’s not against using fridges, but thinks people should try unplugging it — especially over the colder months.
“If everyone could live without a fridge for, say, two weeks over the course of the year,” he said, “it would save an extraordinary amount of power.”
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.