Sunday, January 13, 2008

going GReeeeN!

Not sure if it's the hippie-esque hair, the repeated ill-fated beards or what exactly but I've made a pretty big shift in my life over the past week or so. For a long time I've been somewhat sickened by the amount of plastic bags used in grocery stores and convenience stores here in Japan, and for a long time have asked them not to give me a bag for my stuff. Sometimes I would break down and get them, to carry my stuff home, usually just when I buy a bunch of things, but I've always found it ridiculous at the assumption that whatever is bought needs to be placed in a plastic bag for me to carry it out of the store. Stupid rant so far, but slowly getting to the point... I've been thinking about changing the way I impact the environment for some time now, thinking, not really doing to much though, but it's come time. I think that a few things really pushed me over the edge. One was seeing mornin get bags for stuff when she'd buy a drink, or a pack of gum or when melvis and I bought coffee at McDonald's where they put the coffee in a paper bag, and then a plastic bag... another was seeing a show on TV here recently where a small island in southern Japan gets it's beaches covered with garbage that floats in from Korea and China when the currents change each winter, and finally, I think the last straw, was seeing how much garbage I had accumulated over the holidays, when the garbage men had the week off. I was disturbed. So, so far I've completely done away with receiving plastic bags from stores, and for that matter paper ones too. I carry a min-bag with me any time I'm going shopping and have one hooked on my backpack as well, both of them can be found for 100 yen. I've also stopped buying any pet bottles (plastic bottles) and canned coffee as well. I used to buy a big bottle of Aquarius sports drink about every other day, and pick up other drinks while out and about, and I probably averaged about 3 cans of coffee per day as well, but in the past week I've only had one moment of weakness where I bought 1 can of coffee while out in Tamachi during a teaching gig. I've switched the Aquarius for home brewed tea that I put in a former Aquarius bottle and refrigerate, and replaced the canned coffee with home brewed or in-store coffee. The only exception to this so far has been a couple of trips to McD's where the 100 yen coffee was hard to pass up, but I think that'll be off limits for the most part too now. The 2 major drink questions remain 1: beer, and 2: milk. Although I don't drink beer on a daily basis, in Japan bottled beer just isn't as popular as I'd like it to be, but I'll probably switch more often to that. I love milk! I'm currently looking into milk delivery services that use bottles also. The stuff in the stores here of course comes in the wax coated paper quarts that I'd like to stop using. The best option would be if I could go myself to a place and pick it up since any kind of delivery would use gasoline in the delivery vehicle right... There was a place on the corner down the street, but looks like it's been closed for awhile now, so I'm probably gonna check out another place I found on the map tomorrow to see if I can get it there, if not, I'm leaning to switching to Soy milk because I know that I can take my own containers to the tofu shop and get filled up there. When shopping recently I've also decided to choose stuff with less packaging, the less the better. I used to be a price man. I've really been spending alot of time lately thinking about this subject, the whole "carbon footprint" idea, for a long time I've thought of myself as being a little bit "environmental", but I realize that really I've spent 28 years destroying the planet.
I have to change my ways. This past week I've really been scrutinizing all of my actions and trying to think of ways that I can change them, to reduce my consumption, to reduce my waste, and to reduce my impact. I think I have yet a long way to go, but I think already I've made great changes, I just think about the number of pet bottles (probably 5 big and 3 small) that I haven't used, and the number of cans (probably somewhere around 20) that I haven't used just in the past week. I think about the number of times I've been offered a plastic bags (maybe 15) and I've refused. I hope that I can make a difference. I've started leaning towards organic foods, more veggies (less packaging) and stuff like that. Had some wonderful hamburgers tonight made of hakusai (chinese cabbage) tofu, and mushrooms with some organic cheese and catsup. My sister and dad have long been vegetarians, and I think my sister recently converted her whole family, but I've been a life-long meat eater. I'm not saying that I am going vegetarian at all, but I do realize the impact that livestock has on things like global warming, but I won't give you stats, the internet is full of them, some more misleading than others. I do think that I will choose organic meat over the non stuff though. Of course I believe that baby steps are required... I don't want anyone to think that I'm trying to force my beliefs onto anyone, like some Vegetarians, Christians, Mormons, Krishnas, insurance salesmen etc. do, I'm not telling you to do anything. If you want to think about how you impact the world I think it's a good idea. If you want to change the way you impact the world, maybe another good idea. If you don't, then don't. If you have any questions I'd love to try and answer them, or maybe point you to someone who can, I've been doing alot of research lately. More important, if you have any advice, let me have it, I'm pretty new to this whole thing, I'm trying to learn as much as I can, and change as much as I can, but like I said, baby steps, baby!

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