As the Copenhagen conference starts, I’m reminded of Dot’s old post on green living. Actually, to trace more accurately, this post is triggered off by a line in a mail from a friend, talking about the carbon footprint of a DVD he sent me. He was joking, of course, but the issue of carbon footprints one where I need to re-think my stances every now and then to make sure I don’t end up crazy and pointlessly anal or, at the other extreme, careless and wasteful.
If I think over my choices, I’m fairly comfortable with the carbon footprint I’m leaving. Mostly I used mass public transport; I don’t waste paper, water or electricity if I can help it; I don’t use too many sprays or aerosols; I try to maintain a balance between using disposable and reusable stuff. For instance, I remember giving Cee grief last year for using reusable paper towels to clean fans (I think). But surely it’s not the same as using tissue paper for the job? One such reusable towel, if carefully used, can clean four fans easy (at least, it did the other day in my house) and then one does not waste water or detergent or energy (or indeed time and thought) on having to clean it. To me that sounds like a useful way of utilising paper.
The next time the bulbs in our flat are changed, Vicky wants to install CFLs. Which is something we’ve been meaning to do for two years now, but really, it’s not that big a thing because we use tubelights mainly. A low power bulb switched on for a few minutes now and then probably aren’t as major as say, a leaking tap. We have a couple of taps that leak persistently so I position a mug/bucket underneath to catch whatever water we’d have lost. The thing to realise here is this: I do this as a matter of life and death, even though we don’t really have a water crisis here and I only have the training because I’ve lived in cities where water was at a premium. Vicky’s never really experienced that so he’s more relaxed about it.
Does this mean we need to experience hardship to really understand the value of what we have? Perhaps it does, a little. Just a sight of the ugly smog over Kolaghat is a useful reminder to me to be careful with the electricity because the price of what I’m using is calculated in more than rupees. I remember that smog – experienced just once – with a shudder.
The frequent power cuts we all live with get me good at mad, you all know that. But it’s not rocket science to know that we can all cut down a little. In the good ol’ days when I was a wee kid (I’m talking of the early ‘90s when many of you probably weren’t even born *sigh*) we used to have crazy power cuts every evening. We learnt to just not expect any electricity for hours at a time everyday. I guess that and paying my own electricity bills makes me think twice before I leave things switched on or plugged in all day.
I don’t think my carbon footprint is too extreme even though I do travel a lot and use paper towels at restaurants. Two things come to mind when I consider making further changes – thin plastic packets (the banned kind) and sanitary towels. The latter, well, I apologise to my great-grandchildren, but really, they’ll understand. I lived in the Dark Ages, I had no choice! The plastic packets on the other hand… well, they are used to pack groceries and fruits and small parcels of shopping everywhere. What I can do is carry one in my wallet so I don’t have to keep accepting fresh ones. That is something I have to remember to do, though!
What about you, how are you planning to reduce your carbon footprint?