Green Gina (and Corey)
on Sustainable Dignity (India), 27/Jul/2011 11:15, 34 days ago
Gina writes:In thinking about how my time in India has changed me, one significant change that comes to mind is a whole-hearted embrace of some environmentalist ideals.Why?In India, there's trash everywhere. Towns like Koraput don't have landfills or garbage collectors, so the garbage for each neighborhood gets piled up in empty lots or strewn out of windows until it's eaten by cows and dogs and burned periodically. It's hard to see all that refuse every day and not give a think about how you can reduce your contribution to it.Basic commodities like water and electricity are a lot harder to get here. If the water level is low or too many neighbors are running their water pumps or there's no electricity, we can't get water from our well up to the tank on the roof and then have a water shortage. At those times, we have to really think hard about how to use the water that we have stored in buckets around the house. Also, using only 6-8 gallons of water to handwash an entire load of laundry or 3-4 gallons to take an extra-long bucket bath made me start to feel guilty about the HUGE amount of water used for showers and washing machines in the U.S.Before coming to India, I was fairly environmentally-conscious, but most environmental considerations were made only if there was also a benefit of saving money, being healthier, or saving time. Now though, I'd say that thoughts about how to be kind to the environment top the list of considerations.A few major changes that Corey and I have talked about making:No more bottled water- Even at work meetings or for traveling, we'd both like to try extra-hard to not consume bottles of water. Our reusable water bottles with totally drinkable tap water will be making the rounds with us when at all possible.No more paper towels or napkins- Having not had the opportunity to use paper towels or napkins in the past 20 months, we realized that it's completely possible to replace disposable paper towels with reusable/washable cloths.Drastically less Kleenex and toilet paper- Using handkerchiefs instead of loads of Kleenex here is a necessity, not a choice. But realizing the amount of paper that we've saved from the trash heaps makes us not want to return to using tissues. It's the same with toilet paper; I won't go into the details, but there are completely sanitary and non-gross ways to go without toilet paper, at least for #1! Enough said...No more paper/styrofoam plates or containers- We ate off of styrofoam plates at a party at my office about 2 months ago. Afterwards, the plates and bowls were tossed outside, where they blew around in the wind and got stuck in bushes, where they still sit. A set of plastic/metal picnic plates and silverware isn't really THAT hard to wash, is it? And if we go to a restaurant, what's so hard about bringing a reusable container in anticipation of the leftovers?Line dry some clothes- We haven't even SEEN a clothes dryer for 20 months. At times, like right now in rainy season, we really miss it. Most of the time though, it feels great to hang the clothes outside for a few hours and know that you're not using any unnecessary electricity.Using grey water where possible- The water used to wash our clothes sits in buckets in our bathroom until we need to flush the toilet. Just a few big cupfuls of water poured down the squat toilet is all that's needed to "flush". We rarely have to use any clean water in the toilet! Along with this, the squat style of toilet doesn't need to actually flush since the pipe just flows out of the toilet to the river, so it does feel nice to not be using gallons and gallons of water just for one flush. I don't know how we'll incorporate the use of grey water in the U.S., but we'll keep an eye out for possibilities.Some of these changes will save money as well as the environment. None of them are time-saving, unless you count that there will be fewer trips to the trash can! All of them are actions that we've decided to personally adopt as a way of appreciating the environment.