As I start to walk long distances – from mornings to evenings – I start to appreciate many things. My good legs, great roads, shady tress, friendly people and so forth. That is when I take interest in environment and want to do more to save the planet earth.
I was struck by an article on Japan Times about a Japanese woman (who calls herself “solar-girl”) who stopped using electricity from TEPCO utility company. Instead she bought 3 solar panels and a car battery to sustain her daily life.
As a homemaker of a family of three, it is almost impossible to do the same. But I have tried many things to reduce the amount of electricity consumption.
Firstly I bought solar lanterns from MUJI store for each member of our family. As it is such fun to produce electricity from the sun, everyone enjoys them. However I stopped using it as my eyes get used to the darkness. Since our house is situated at the corner, lights come from the street lamps so that I try not to turn on the light as much as possible.
Also I bought a small solar-panel for my smartphone and iPad.It is enough for them during sunny days. Someday when home battery system is much less expensive, I would like to buy a bigger solar panel and run many other things.
As Japan is surrounded by sea, gas doesn’t come easily. It has be freezed and carried by ships. As it is called “natural gas”, we tend to think it comes to us naturally, but it does not.
I want to save it alltough we use it everyday.
I try not to overheat my bath water so much and during summer I take cold shower, which strengthen your skin and body 🙂
In Kyoto, where I live, water comes from the lake Biwa through Biwa canal. Although our ancestors created this canal, the water itself is not free of charge. We pay great amount of money to Shiga prefecture. where the lake Biwa is.
And used water goes to water plant. Some time ago I walked to this water plant with my walking friend to see Wisteria flowers. They keep a great garden there and let citizens in to see the flowers. The plant was far from the city area and I realized the water we use travel this distant, too.
Learning these things, I try not to pollute water so much. I usually wash dishes without any kind of soap using special sponge. Also hot water is perfect to get rid of oil from plates.
Then I realize, that maybe I can wash myself without soap,too. Nowadays I don’t use shampoo nor conditioner. I use soap to wash my body occasionally that I don’t need to buy soaps any longer. Seasonal gift of soaps is enough for us. Once I gave those extra soaps to one of my friends. She has two sons and seemed to wonder why I don’t need them.
I decline most bags at stores. When I forget to bring or have bags of rival store, only then I take free bags.
As I start declining, the amount of garbage is reduced. Perhaps I try not to buy things with too much packaging (even if they are tasty goodies).
I used to spend a lot of money on clothes because people in Kyoto are very clothes-conscious. I guess I didn’t want to be looked down and spent more than necessary. Now that I realize this, I don’t do this.
Once at the party there were two ladies who wore the same pieces of new clothes, which made me realize buying clothes doesn’t make you special. So I try to make, I mean, sew things occasionally, which is less expensive than buying and you can’t throw them away so easily.
6. electrical appliances
I have to admit that there are many in our household. But I have heard metallic parts of those electrical appliances are not good when disposed and burned in the furnace.
And when plugged in, they produce magnetic field which may affect our health. So I think it is better not to plug in those when not in use.
I think walking is the best exercise.When you walk long distances you save money for transportation and gym.
In Kyoto, streets are narrow and very busy. So avoid cars and taxis altogether! That way you can save time and money.
I have heard that Siberian woods are in danger because Japanese people consume so much paper. To avoid deforestation,it is better to choose recycled paper as much as possible. Especially toilet paper, which is difficult to find.
I think each one of us on planet earth should grow plants to produce oxygen. Once I bought an exotic plant from a department store. However, the packaging was so much that I didn’t want to buy any any more. Best way to do this is to start with seeds or small plants and grow them into bigger ones.
It is better to create things than buy finished products or dishes. I make Caspian yogurt from milk. All you have to do is add some small portion of Caspian yogurt into milk and leave it at a room temperature for about a day. You don’t need to buy packets of yogurt every time you go shopping.
As Japanese houses are much smaller than western ones, it is impossible to keep all books you bought. But the information you get from those books is very valuable. I recommend you buy e-books when e-books are available.