Taking ’Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’ Even Further. How Do I Lower my Carbon Footprint?
I’ve wanted to jot down the various ways I’m aspiring to use as little electricity and water as possible in order to leave a smaller impact on this world. I want to share these tips that individually might not amount to much, but day to day over time, and with them all-together most likely will. I’m aspiring to have less or do less in life so that there is more you and for me*.
DISCLAIMER: These tips have all come about through changes I’ve made in my lifestyle and while there are plenty of website also sharing their own tips, I haven’t looked at them to use in my article.
Previous ways to be more energy efficient have led me to change my diet and that’s a political issue for many. These set of tips are in no way intended to antagonise others, hence the first person narrative in this write-up, but if you like the ideas then take them as your own.
So while I don’t:
- Own a car and therefore all of its burdens.
- Have a child (this is the most carbon saving option you can make) .
- Own a TV.
- Leave all the electrical items on standby.
- Own anything more power hungry than a laptop.
- Allow myself to take more than one flight a year since 2010.
A round-trip plane ride from New York to London costs another three square meters or so of Arctic sea ice.
- Boil fully filled kettles.
- Take a bath, but shower. (I also try to take 5 minute showers).
- Buy plastic drink bottles.
I still ask myself “What else can I do to ’Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’”?
First off, I’m fortunate to be living in Hong Kong, public transport; with the underground rail is the best in the world, and the buses are fast, frequent and with few congested roads to travel on**. So it’s a no brainer to use public transport.
So here is another list of all the energy/consumptive saving practices I engage in, on a daily basis without me needing to spend either significantly more money or more time doing something for the environment.
- I buy from markets with my own reusable shopping bag, markets don’t provide cling wrap on items unlike supermarkets do and I refuse bags as I’m bringing my own. Buying produce loose also has the extra benefit of allowing you to buy exactly which items you want.
- Air conditioning is turned on only when I sleep and that’s only when the temperature goes above 22–26 celsius (yes I have a feel for what’s optimal to help me sleep, even better I wish there was a time for the AC here). Especially when the AC is the largest part of an energy bill in Hong Kong.
- I have a reusable water bottle (but everyone does this now right)?
- I bought a wool/linen bed instead of a conventional one. It’s automatically bio-degradable and it’s made with as few chemicals as possible, if any actually.
- I found a life partner who by her own nature doesn’t have a car themselves or want children.
- I typically only use 1 lightbulb at any given time in my house, luckily my house is a Hong Kong house and I can get away with only using one light bulb for most things. Of course you might not be able to if your house is larger. I also have LED’s, but I try not to use them as much, too bright for me after 6pm.
- I don’t use paper towels when visiting public toilets, I wash throughly and let my hands dry naturally.
- I don’t use air blowers either.
- I don’t use hand soap ever. Hand soap also destroys useful bacteria that on the hands.
- I always electric shave, no need to buy extra items like shaving gel or disposable blades. The Romans didn’t, why should I?
- This one is very unorthodox, so bear with me. Urinals typical flush every few minutes automatically, or the new ones have an IR sensor to detect usage. If I use the toilet I’m using extra water for flushing my waste. To go against this, I wipe with tissue at the urinal and dispose the single paper square into the bin with the paper rubbish, it’s a two-for-one. Less water is used at the urinal, and the paper doesn’t get flushed out to sea, its has more chance of being recycled instead with the other paper waste.
- I only use environmentally soap to wash myself with. Even then I only wash the sweatiest parts with soap when I need to. You might think yuck, but nobody has ever complained about my body odour ever and nobody seems to notice.
- I take a casserole dish with me whenever I get take away.
- I have my mug stored at my favourite coffee shop. I buy there or I don’t. No disposables and no coffee on the go! Sometimes coffee is too conveinent and I try to enjoy it like the Spanish. A coffee to go in Spain is an imported concept.
- I carry a travel set of eating utensils as Hong Kong is almost giddy to give me disposables at every opportunity. It’s incredibly wastful. Read about the scale of the problem here.
- Don’t, buy shit you don’t need. Apple Watch / iPhone. This is obvious for most of us and I tend to only buy non-food items I really think I have utility for. I try to go into this a little deeper. I have an example to share. At the moment I have one major expectation from the Apple Watch and that’s for it to have at least a one week battery life. It has to have that or something truly amazing to get me back wearing a wrist watch. I have skipped all three generations and I use to be the type of person who would have bought at least two of them. The added complication of a smart watch means some people are buying more than one watch (for whatever reason, like vanity or just to stay on the latest and greatest) in a short space of time whereas when I owned a normal watch, I kept it and the battery for years. It’s a waste of resources if I was one of those types who needed to upgrade nearly every year.
- My laptop is five years old by the way, I know its fine for all tasks other than video-editing. I’m only looking at a new one for helping me with that task and my expectations are that it lasts longer, thereby slowing my most expensive purchases over time.
- It’s expensive and wasteful to stay fashionable, and whatever improvements a phone makes year over year isn’t going to make a massive fundamental difference to my life. I realised after purchasing the 6s+ and then the 7+ that there aren’t truly many applications that should provoke me to upgrade again for a while longer.*** I am holding myself to a standard for the next expected advance (I only look at improvements made to the camera and battery life), otherwise I’m wasting money because all I’ve have is a smartphone that might be able to load application x faster.
- Join https://www.reddit.com/r/ZeroWaste/ for many more tips
- Lastly, I engage in fasting. I’ll spare you the details but you can start here http://foundmyfitness.com.
Anyway, that’s it, if you have your own tips then share them, I wanted to share mine and see what others think.
If you like what you’ve read, please consider donating to my ko-fi.com account at ko-fi.com/jonathanjk
*Also more money. Who loves paying bills?
**Unfortunate also because Hong Kong, while half an island nation at the bottom of China, it still receives a large amount of smog from nearby regions and from its shipping industry. That’s a shame considering the access I have to these amazing transport links.
***I am aware of the irony of having needed to purchase two phones before realising one isn’t that much different over the other. I do however need two phones.