Friday, October 19, 2007

An informal 5th R: Random Recap

[WIP; recycled material on left]

Just thought I'd put together some random Environmental tips/thoughts/shortcuts that I like to use my in personal life, hence the title, "Random Recap," which is a little misleading, actually, since this isn't really much of a recap at all.

That's OK. I'm nothing if horrible at finding titles. Just ask my classmates in any of the creative writing classes I took.

I dilute my shampoo with water, probably not 50/50, but something rather close. After all, if you're going to have to add water to lather up anyways, why not start yourself off while the stuff's still in the bottle? And the best thing is that you usually wind up using less shampoo this way [another way to say that, undiluted, I usually was using more shampoo than necessary], which saves you money and puts less shampoo-chemicals into water runoff. I don't know about you, but I certainly don't recognize all those chemical names on the back of my shampoo. I also use natural shampoos sometimes, but usually alternate those with conventional ones because I find a mix is best at keeping my hair clean.

[Beijing, July 2006. Probably not exactly the most hygienic or environmentally friendly (I don't even think they always sweep up the hair after they're finished), but certainly the cheapest haircut you'll find. This one was taken just around the corner from where I used to live. Oh, small-scale economies and old ways of life.]

[Beijing, July 2006. Here a couple of hair cutters have banded together to become the neighborhood 'hotspot' for hair cuttings.]

If you're paranoid about not using plastic tupperware to freeze food because of recent studies that find that certain plastic chemicals can leak into water when frozen/microwaved/left in the sun, glass jars are a handy alternative.

[Beijing, May 2006. The farmers used to come into town on their horses in the early mornings, sometimes starting out as early as 4AM, in order to directly sell produce to their customers. And such was the morning commute in the inner throes of the city - pedestrians, bicycles, mopeds, taxis, personal cars, buses, horses ...]

One of the things that water filters are supposed to remove from tap water is heavy metal ions from the pipes the water flows through. One way to decrease the concentration of heavy metal ions is to let the water run for a good 10-15 seconds first - that way all the water that was just sitting there in the pipes, as the metal ions seeped in to the stagnant water, is not what you're drinking. Feels wasteful? How about filling your water filter after you wash the dishes or run a shower? [hehe, my college roommates always laughed at me for going into the shower/bathroom with the water filter ...] Or if you don't like water filters, you can still collect the water in glass jars or plastic jugs, and let it sit uncapped for a couple hours, which will let some of the chlorine evaporate out and make it taste better.

When you're finished with a tube of toothpaste, cut off the edge and use your toothbrush to scrape off excess toothpaste stuck to the walls of the tube. You can get a couple more brushings in that way.

[Wuhan, May 2006. I sometimes wonder what response I'd get if I hung my laundry outside my window ... considering I live right next to one bank and directly across from two others.]

I usually look for my journals in used bookstores, where they are cheaper and you are also reducing the amount of the earth's resources that are wasted. And then you can use the money you saved and occasionally buy a nice notebook from a small, independent store or handmade business, so that it winds up costing the same, if not less, than if you bought at Target or something [OK I'm totally guilty of loving Target ... in moderation] ... but you can support your values at the same time.

[Pedestrian street; Wuhan; May 2006]

My roommate and I share one electrical plug for his shaver and my hair dryer, so our default is that neither appliance is plugged in. When I want to dry my hair I just plug in for a couple minutes and immediately unplug ... which is good because there's less ghost electricity that gets drained from appliances that are unused but still plugged in. Actually, on that note I prefer air-drying my hair, but since it is currently short I sometimes first towel dry,, then blow dry for a minute or two and then air dry, which gets my hair straighter without making my hair super dry from excess blow drying.

[Beijing, May 2006. I wish I could say the haze is solely due to my camera, but unfortunately I believe I was breathing in some of that pollution as well. Joys.]

Little compromises. How much of something do you really need, and can you get by on a little bit less?

[The water in the eaves; Zhejiang Province, June 2006]

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