6 Ways You Can Help Destroy the Earth More Slowly
As the effects of climate change start to become obvious—consider the numerous aberrant storms in the past year—the public awareness of conservation has also increased. So much in today’s world is interconnected. Little things you and I can do can contribute positively to saving our blue planet from irreversible damage: to its atmosphere, to its ecosystems, to its ability to support humanity.
Here are some common tips and tricks we must adopt to lessen the stress on the world around us. Nothing particularly innovative here, but the message is always worth repeating. From personal experience in the Amazon, I can say that everything here is doable on a daily basis.
1. Take a cold shower.
Especially: During the summer.
You might ask why, but really, there are health benefits. And why not? Be real men and women. Especially for those of us living in Asia’s tropics and sub-tropics during a powerful summer heatwave, cold water can be a welcome respite, washing your sweat-drenched body clean. Beyond that, cold showers saves you gas bills and the burning of gases to heat the water. Not only do you save money and improve your health, you also contribute positively to environmental protection.
2. Lights out.
Especially: During the day.
Turn off all unnecessary lighting at all times. If you have windows and access to natural light, why aren’t you making use of them? At night, consider setting aside days when you just shut off the electricity supply after certain hours — meaning nothing is on and nothing can turn on. Of course, some of us can’t afford to be that hardcore. Leave the refrigerator running, to keep food from spoiling. Things can wait and candles work just as well. Just an hour or two means enormous energy savings, considering that the average American household uses 908 kWh per month (enough to power a standard 60-watt lightbulb continuously for nearly two years). A third of that could be cut, simply by turning the electricity off at night. Hong Kong, as gorgeous as your harbor lights may be, imagine the amount of clean air you will generate if you would sacrifice electrifying the horizon for a few days each week.
3. The air-conditioning obsession needs to stop.
Especially: In cars, at homes, in office buildings, the list goes on.
I address this particularly to those living in Asian countries, which have an unhealthy obsession for “air con”: aren’t you sick of how cold your offices, stores and cinemas get? You have to dress for two climates! Unless you live in a frigid climate or in the desert, there is relatively little reason to have a heater or air-conditioner on. Most of us live in climates that we can all tolerate – as I found one living in the hot and humid jungle (as hot and humid as Hong Kong) without artificial cooling for two months. Open your windows, install a fan, there really is no need to be using the AC. It can be quite comfortable without artificial ventilation. Furthermore, there are health risks associated with artificial air circulation – especially cold air. Clean air campaign strikes once again, with the amount of electricity you save, less fuel needs to be burned in generators, cars need to burn less gas – why would you NOT want fresh air to ventilate and to breathe in?
4. Clean your clothes with your hands.
Especially: When you have hands. When you’re young and live alone.
Unless you’re highly prone to staining, there’s no need to do laundry everyday or wash clothes after wearing them once. Needlessly trying to keep your clothes clean wastes water, flushes unwanted detergent into the water systems, and costs electricity. In fact, everyone should learn how to hand-wash their clothes. When done properly, hand-washing most of your laundry saves water and costs nothing in terms of fuel burned to provide electricity. If you want to save yourself the trouble, wait until you have a full load of laundry – that way the water the machine uses is maximized. Many older generations in Asia prefer to dry by hand; this is one among many lessons that we ought to pick up.
5. Don’t be trashy. Recycle.
Especially: When you only need to spend an extra second and a half to make the choice.
This is something we all know, something that has been around for a while. What more needs to be said? Again, the world’s resources are not limitless. Re-using everyday items—plastic, aluminum, glass, paper—is better for our future. Preferable to, say, ravaging environments for new mines and oil digs. Recycling could be the one of the biggest everyday contributors to environmental protection. We only need to recall the sheer amounts of trash that Hong Kong produces to understand this problem’s magnitude. The more we recycle, the less we need to try to find. Just remember to put the right things in the right bin and everything processes just like regular trash.
6. Shut the faucet.
Especially: When you brush your teeth and wash your face — lots of water escapes your target zone.
We all love a bit of glorious water pressure, but do we really need it to be clean? Did you know that less than half the water actually cleans you when you blast the faucets? What an enormous waste. What’s more: when you don’t turn off the faucets while doing something else, you are wasting the preciously little fresh water we have. As a result, when a drought hits in China and Taiwan, the poor often run out of water. Do yourselves a favor and use appropriate amounts of water, or else one day you will find yourself naked, soaped up but out of water, like I did in the Amazon jungle.
Six easy things. Keep it in mind and the earth will feel a little healthier for your efforts.
(title image via Andy Li on Flickr)
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TAGS: air conditioning • Environmentalism • live better • Recycling
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