Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
April 22nd was celebrated as Earth Day throughout the world. This post is my day late attempt to start a Earth Day discussion.
Growing up in a relatively small town in India, I did not give much thought to “Going Green” or “Recycle” or my “Carbon Footprint”. In India, by default, everything was re-used and recycled. The newspapers and magazines were sold to the raddiwala. Processed food was not sold in the cardboard boxes, glass or plastic jars/bottles and tetra-packs that would generate trash by the gallons. There were no paper napkins or paper towels except on special occasion when the guests came over for dinner. People did not have luxury of thirty minute hot water showers or filling up a huge bath tub for a soak. I remember my mom telling time and again to our household help (now wasting man-hours – different story, another post) not to keep the water running while washing dishes. Most families did not have a car of their own. If they did have a car, it would more often be Maruti-800 (do they even sell a car that small here in U.S.?) and not something the size of Suburban. Of course the things have now changed considerably in India and life style there in a major metro is not that different from our lives here.
When I first came to U.S., I was amazed at the abundance of everything. It did not really strike me as “wasteful” at that time. I guess, in my naivety, I took it as a sign of prosperity and how rich this country was. Lights were always on in all the stores even at night. Most people did not bother to turn off the lights, printers, computers when they left their offices or in their homes when they left from one room to the other. Hot water (and not just running cold water) was always on anywhere. It was normal for people to go to Costco and buy the whole car full of disposable paper goods, paper towels, napkins, flatware etc. And everything you bought in the grocery store was beautifully packed in triple layers of cellophane, boxes and individual wrap inside. And by the time you came home from your shopping expedition, your major dilemma would be what to do with all the plastic bags you came home with.
Let me confess my friends, I got used to this lifestyle very fast. I do not think twice about using reams of paper towels in my kitchen to wipe away smallest of spills, throw newspaper in the regular trash or keep the water running in the kitchen sink or while brushing my teeth. When I stopped to think about it, I now generate maybe 10-15 times the waste as I did while growing up in India. Although, my first car in U.S. was a compact and fuel efficient Civic, I am now driving a wasteful SUV. All in the excuse of – I need the space for my three people family.
Now that I have a small child, I am concerned about the world he would inherit. U.S. is an amazing country with lots to offer and I have really grown as a person after coming here. But I am saddened by how easily I let my good habits – those that I had learned by default due to the lifestyle in India – on reducing waste, recycling and re-using die. I am now hoping to re-learn them and reduce my Carbon Footprint. In the process, I am hoping to save some money as well. Please share your tips on how you reduce the waste, recycle and reuse. Happy Earth Day.
Last 5 posts by rajvi
- Preventing Cracked Nails in Kids - February 22nd, 2010
- Holiday Season - How do you celebrate? - December 12th, 2009
- Assimilation as a senior citizen - August 31st, 2009
- The Daily Tip Off - Removing Tea Stains from China/Stoneware - July 8th, 2009
- Mom-in-Question: Tiyash - May 30th, 2009